28 Male Models and Assistants Allege These Famed Gay Photographers Sexually Exploited Them
Bruce Weber and Mario Testino are famous gay photographers in their own right, with impressive resumes that feature some of the most well-known campaigns for big name fashion brands and magazines. Weber is most known for his work for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch. Testino’s work has been featured internationally in magazines such as Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair and GQ.
In a new report published by The New York Times, 28 male models and assistants (who are mostly heterosexual) allege that these photographers sexually exploited them by making them pose nude for photographs not needed and forcing them to engage in sexual acts in exchange for more work.
One account regarding Bruce Weber recalls:
The men recalled, with remarkable consistency, private sessions with Mr. Weber in which he asked them to undress and led them through breathing and “energy” exercises. Models were asked to breathe and to touch both themselves and Mr. Weber, moving their hands wherever they felt their “energy.” Often, Mr. Weber guided their hands with his own.
“I remember him putting his fingers in my mouth, and him grabbing my privates,” said the model Robyn Sinclair. “We never had sex or anything, but a lot of things happened. A lot of touching. A lot of molestation.”
Highlights from the report profiling Mario Testino’s harassment include:
“He was a sexual predator,” said Ryan Locke, who succeeded Mr. Fedele with Gucci.
Mr. Locke said that when he told other models that he was going to meet Mr. Testino, “everyone started making these jokes — they said he was notorious, and ‘tighten your belt.’”
Former assistants said that Mr. Testino had a pattern of hiring young, usually heterosexual men and subjecting them to increasingly aggressive advances.
Taber, a model who worked with Mr. Testino for much of the late ’90s and early 2000s (he used only his first name professionally), described Mr. Testino as a friend until he stuck his hand down the back of Taber’s pants, and showed up at his hotel room asking for sex. “He was a mentor who took it a step too far,” he said.
“Sexual harassment was a constant reality,” said Roman Barrett, an assistant to Mr. Testino in the late ’90s who said the photographer rubbed up against his leg with an erection and masturbated in front of him.
“He misbehaved in hotel rooms, the backs of cars and on first-class flights,” he said. “Then things would go back to normal, and that made you feel gaslighted.”
Bruce Weber and Mario Testino both deny all allegations, even though The Times did corroborate many of the individuals accounts in their reporting.