Olivier Zahm Sexts During Meetings, Says Terry Richardson Is ‘Not About Sex’

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Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

This week at the Independent Filmmaker Spring Gala at Diane Von Furstenberg's studio, party reporter extraordinaire Bennett Marcus chatted with Purple editor Olivier Zahm about sexting. His pal Paz de la Heurta, standing by his side, jumped in to help Zahm defend Terry Richardson.

State legislators have been caught playing solitaire, checking ESPN, even looking at porn, during debates. What do you do to alleviate boredom during meetings?
Olivier Zahm: I do what Derek Blasberg calls “sexting.”

You sext during meetings?
Zahm: Yes. I send sex messages to girls.

Really?
Zahm: Yes.

Girls you know?
Zahm: Of course. I’m not writing to girls I don’t know.

So people think you’re busy responding to important messages and you’re actually sexting in the meeting?
Zahm: Yes. And so you leave the meeting and you’re quite in a good mood, because you have the feedback of the girl. And it’s better to have a, you know, a time difference so that you are sexting a girl in New York when you’re in Paris so she’s in bed, and vice versa.

Did you ever leave a meeting to go meet a girl? Say, I have to run, something came up, because you were bored and horny?
Zahm: At least interrupt the meeting to give a love call, yes.

You’ve done that?
Zahm: Yes. A lot.

A lot?
Zahm: Yes. And I’m upset when the girl that I’m calling doesn’t leave a meeting for me. Because she should, right? I mean, to me, when my girlfriend in Paris, Natasha, she’s a designer, doesn’t leave the studio to call me back, I’m upset. I think love is much more important than, uh, work.

Interesting.
Zahm: No, that’s life. Come on. We're not, uh, animals who spend their time working, we are emotional people who need the support of love and sex to be able to work. Not the opposite, right?

The allegations of Terry Richardson's misconduct have died down, but what did you make of them?
Zahm: They are just, uh, they have lost their mind. It’s totally ridiculous and embarrassing for them. The women who attacked Richardson, it’s really sad. To me, it is really sad because Terry loves so much people [sic], not only women, he’s such a sweetheart that I can’t understand how people can be so mean. I don’t even see their point.
Paz de la Huerta: I feel like you can’t blame anyone for your own actions, and I feel like, you know, I’ve worked with people who I could easily say exploited me, but at the same time, I was willing to be exploited. And I decided to heal from those experiences on my own, and not to make them a public affair.
Zahm: You’re not exploited in front of an artist, you’re exploited when you have to work in a boring job.
De la Huerta: I think if you’re going to work with Terry, you know what to expect.
Zahm: But you never expect any kind of sexual interaction.
De la Huerta: No.
Zahm: What is this thing that Terry Richardson is about sex? Terry Richardson is about the playful and the seduction of who you are, not about sex. Terry sometimes plays with the idea of sex, but he’s never pornographic. Nothing is porn about his photography. Nothing is trash about his photography. People who believe that Terry is a porn photographer are obsessed by pornography. They see pornography everywhere. You know, when people see pornography everywhere, or seeing sexual abuse somewhere, most of the time they have been a victim of it and they have been trapped into it, and they see it everywhere. When people are free, like Terry Richardson, we want to control them. We want to make them suffer because they are free, they have a great life, and they are creatively alive.
De la Huerta: When I worked with Terry I had an amazing experience. I felt very safe, and, um, I danced and I felt like he only fed into my creativity, you know.
Zahm: Yeah, we did a shoot together for Purple. It was really cool.