The first image of Andrew Richardson on this Style.com post is striking: Richardson, the editor of Richardson magazine, posed wearing a tuxedo, holding a spotted cat for Purple editor Olivier Zahm's camera. Richardson's expression is one of an unquenchable thirst for intimacy, while the cat's eyes seem to say, to no one in particular, "I will never forgive you for allowing this to be done to me." The photo has a feeling not all that dissimilar to the one of American Apparel CEO Dov Charney posing with a dog, which was submitted to the media at the height of the company's most recent threat of a bankruptcy filing. Richardson is the stylist-cum-founding-editor of a magazine he named affectionately after himself, the last issue of which was published eight years ago. But a new installment is out, with a cover shot by Steven Klein. "We like to call it a sex magazine," Richardson tells Style.com, refuting a porn categorization. "We recontextualize sex; we're analytical about it. Richardson isn't about coming. Which is the point of porn."
The theme of the new issue, Richardson says, is "The Male Gaze," a follow-up to the previous issue which was about female sexuality. Richardson calls Richardson an "asexual sex magazine," but to put it more simplistically, it looks like another one of those nudie/arty/hipster books. (And indeed, if you go to the NSFW Richardson website, you immediately see one of American Apparel's nude advertisements.) "I think what I've found out is that men are incredibly fragile. We're less dependable than women," Richardson tells Style.com.
And how does all that relate back to sex? Or more specifically, how does all that cohere around some generally agreed-upon ideal of what is "sexy"?
The archetype that most men seem to respond to is a large-breasted, soft-lipped blonde girl whose purpose in life is to please men. I don't think you have to struggle to see the overcompensation there. But then again, there are all these trends in "sexy," like back in the seventies it was sexy to be Tom Selleck. And now I guess it's sexy to be Justin Bieber. But if you go farther, if you go beyond the images society presents to us as ideal, and you ask, "What do men want?," well, there's not any one answer. What I've come to believe, honestly, is that if you're attracted to someone, you're exiting the realm of right sexy and wrong sexy, and just looking for ways to find that person appealing. You forgive them for being annoying in some way, or for not being conventionally beautiful.
Love conquers all, as it were?
Yeah, well ... yes. Men are just infinitely distracted by women — by their breasts, their legs, their lips, their hands, their hair, their knuckles, their elbows. By anything. I think women spend a bit more time asking themselves, Hmm, but is he an asshole?
So who IS Andrew Richardson? This is a man who knows, for one, his goals: "I'd like to develop ... a major media empire. I want at least four Lear jets." But more than that, this is a man who truly knows himself, as evidenced by: "You forgive them for being annoying in some way." And: "I think women spend a bit more time asking themselves, Hmm, but is he an asshole?"
Update: The last issue of Richardson actually came out a year ago, not eight years, as implied in the Style.com story. Prior to that issue is when the magazine took a hiatus. Richardson himself also tells us over the phone, "I was joking when I said I wanted four Lear jets."