By Andrew Richardson, Publisher and Stylist
Words by Nikolaj Hansson / Illustration by Sine Jensen
Andrew Richardson put all his work (and name) into the now infamous Richardson Magazine, that initially saw the light of day in 1998 with none other than Jenna Jameson gracing its cover. 16 years later, the Richardson project is still going full throttle and has now expanded to include a clothing label, available all over the globe. Even though Richardson doesn't consider his own magazine part of the porn industry, he's still been involved in the culture throughout the last 15 years, so we found it natural to catch up with him for a discussion about Hugh Hefner, soggy porn mags and whether or not there is such a thing as the cult of porn.
How was sex perceived where you grew up?
Is Richardson a porn magazine?
No, sexual climax has never been the goal for Richardson Magazine.
Do you find that people tend to become stimulated and aroused rather than interested and entertained when reading your magazine?
When I put an issue out, the reader is going to see the content in their way, through their filter and project their wants onto it.
Do you remember your first encounter with sex?
Sure. A soggy porn mag under a bush in the woods where the bad kids went to smoke during Lunch break at school.
Is it possible to make hard porn aesthetically appealing and beautiful?
Probably everything Rocco Siffredi has done has a fundamental beauty to it.
Is erotica a good medium for breaking down societal prejudices.
Sure, and building them up though.
Coming from a background as a stylist, how did you go about the transition into the world of erotic publications?
I worked on Madonna’s sex book when I was 25. The experience of working on that introduced me to the diverse sex subcultures of New York circa 1991. Interacting with them was very chill and friendly, so I was given access to use a lot of that kind of stuff in my styling work after the book came out. “Heroin Chic” was the anti glamour trend of the moment in the mid 90’s. Myself and the photographers I was working with at the time were into a kind of “Erotic Attack”. Adding sex and sexual provocation to that low key aesthetic. I used to work with a Japanese magazine called Dune, run by Fumihiro Hayashi (Charlie Brown). He saw some scrap books I had that were a kind of diary of my times in New York. The combination of my styling work post sex book and these diary’s got Charlie to raise the money to start Richardson.
Are sexual deviations more accepted in a city as New York compared to many other places around the world?
In New York, I think it’s acceptable to live lifestyles defined by sexual orientation or identity as in NYC is free, San Francisco is free but I hear the best swing parties and so on are in the suburbs.
How big a role do you find that the Internet has played in the liberation of the sexes?
BIG. Like, who knew about all that stuff that people could do? It's not like your parents or the education system told you much more about sex than how to avoid unwanted pregnancy etc. I think the internet is like a beacon of light for the sexually adventurous.
Alan Moore once said: “Sexually progressive cultures gave us literature, philosophy, civilization and the rest, while sexually restrictive cultures gave us the Dark Ages and the Holocaust.” Is he right?
Are you the Hugh Hefner of New York’s art milieu?
America in the 50’s was obviously a very different social and political climate than it is now, and Hugh Heffner reflected the disparity between what people actually felt and what was allowed by the institution. So Hugh Heffner was some kind of social activist, much respect for that, but Playboy really peaked in the 70’s. Right now, Playboy seems to be in an identity crisis that has dragged on since then. The struggles for emancipation and sexual liberation have been won so the struggle of today is to maintain a clear understanding of ourselves in this information age, the rationalisation of the individual ego. What I do with Richardson Magazine has a different agenda and financial ambition. That being said, I would love to have Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer (RIP) write for Richardson, but it would be in a different visual arena than Playboy ever was.
An image can tell a whole story more immediately and directly than actually reading the whole story. The visual stories that Richardson tells are very different from the rom-com stories that Playboy now tells. Richardson has always been about provocation and the so-called erotic attack, much in the same way the punk movement in the mid-seventies used sexual subculture to confront the establishment. Richardson does the same, but tries to expand the dialogue. We’re using provocative imagery to present the argument and then hopefully disseminate a somewhat more analytical ethos. And those ideas that started in the magazine follow through into the clothes, the basic forms of work and athletic wear, military motifs and symbols, the union teamster etc. All these things are gently subverted to our purpose.
Photography by Tim Barber
Do you ever make something with the sole intent of provoking?
LOL, probably everything.
Has your own approach to sex changed as Richardson Magazine has progressed over the years?
Yea, within and outside of the magazine for sure.
Is there an expiration date on the cult of porn?
Hopefully not, whatever the “Cult of Porn” is. Isn’t the cult of porn another name for Darwinism or something?