QUESTION: When is a photo of a naked woman porn and when is it fashion?
Answer: It's porn if she has big boobs and art if she doesn't.
Call me a heathen, but to my mind, disgraced fashion photographer Terry Richardson's photos have always been somewhat gross. And I've long questioned why fashion magazines made him their darling - even when I worked on them.
This week Conde Nast International, publishers of Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair worldwide, banned the use of the American snapper, following allegations of sexual misconduct resurfacing in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Like the Emperor's New Clothes, the fashion industry was seemingly blind to the fact that Richardson, famous for his hypersexualised images of models with legs akimbo wasn't the objective artiste they thought him to be - or didn't want to think about it anyway.
The fact that he shot himself being given oral sex by his then assistant and now wife Alexandra Bolotow in a dustbin with the word "slut" on her head didn't ring any alarm bells.
And the stories of models saying he put pressure on them to adopt poses and perform sex acts against their will, still didn't stop magazines and brands employing him. After all, he worked for Tom Ford and Valentino, he snapped everyone from Beyonce to Barack Obama.
"Is Terry Richardson an artist or a predator?" New York Magazine asked three years ago.
It's only in this post-Weinstein environment that anyone has done anything.
In response to the ban, his spokeswoman told the UK's Daily Telegraph: "He is an artist who has been known for his sexually explicit work, so many of his professional interactions with subjects were sexual and explicit in nature, but all of the subjects of his work participated consensually."
No matter; two decades after shooting to fame with his Katharine Hamnett campaign that caused a scandal by showing models' pubic hair, Richardson, and his sweaty crotch shots, are firmly out of fashion.
Which is bad news for Miley Cyrus, who, as his most famous celebrity muse went through that awful phase in 2013 where she posed in less and less for the photographer, until finally, nothing at all, astride her wrecking ball.
She has since said she regrets stripping off: "I'm never living that down. I will always be the naked girl on the wrecking ball."
But Richardson obviously never did, as he proudly displays pictures of Cyrus on his website Terrysdiary.com that will burn your retinas out.
Richardson's images have always made me feel grubby. While critics say they celebrate sexuality, to me they always seemed hard and masculine, not sexy, and not aspirational at all. I remember having a heated debate about him with a fashion editor on one magazine I worked on - I'm sure she thought me a fool, but I wanted stories that transported me to another realm. I wanted to look at beautiful fashion spreads, not legs spread with see-through undies. Cecil Beaton he was not.
"It's Terry's world and you're just afraid of it," declared LA Weekly at the launch of his book Terryworld in 2004. "Is it porn? Or is it art? Who even really knows anymore?"
Thirteen years later (unlucky for him), it seems we have the answer.
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