At last night’s Paper Magazine 25th Anniversary party at the New York Public Library, we asked Sean Lennon about all the flak he’d caught for re-creating the iconic Annie Leibovitz Rolling Stone cover of a naked John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the pages of Purple Magazine. This is what Lennon, who posed for Terry Richardson with his model girlfriend, Kemp Muhl, had to say:
People are saying that that photo of you and your girlfriend in Purple is offensive.
I know. I am really shocked. I can’t believe that. It’s weird. I thought controversial photos were other things than that. It seems that people are a little bit uptight these days, I guess. I thought that it was not a big deal.
A lot of people said some really hurtful things about you.
I know. It really hurt my feelings. Basically what happened was, we were in bed. We kind of thought that it would be funny if she just rolled over and did that shot. It was not set up at all. I didn’t want them to put it out necessarily. It wasn’t this like, “Oh, let’s do this shot!” It wasn’t set up. And then they just put it out. It was just a snapshot and I really didn’t think anyone would care. I didn’t even remember it until I started getting this vehement hate mail.
Do you regret taking that shot now?
No, I don’t care.
What did your mom say about it?
My mom thought it was cute. She liked the picture more than I did. I thought I looked kind of bad. I was a little sweaty because I was in my mom’s house and it’s hot in there. She likes it really hot and so does my girlfriend. I was like a little sweaty. I didn’t think I looked great. That’s what I regret.
What would Annie say about this?
I can’t imagine that she would care either … She seems to have other things on her mind these days. Like money.
I guess if anyone has the reference to do it, it would be you.
The context of it was kind of innocent. I mean, one time I was walking down the street and a paparazzi took a snapshot of us. And then there were like all these headlines in like England about “Sean tries to re-create a picture of his parents because Sean had a hat on,” and I was wearing glasses, which I have to wear because I have prescription glasses. They were like, “How dare he try to be his Dad?” I thought that was just so funny. I was like, “Wow, I didn’t even want that picture to be taken. I’m like walking to the grocery store.”
See more from the Paper celebration in our Party Lines slideshow.