Awful New Details Revealed About How Photographers Bruce Weber And Mario Testino Allegedly Sexually Exploited 28 Men

Photo: Getty
Bruce Weber, Mario Testino

Bruce Weber and Mario Testino worked with brands like Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Fifteen current and former male models have accused fashion photographer Bruce Weber of coercing sexual behavior. Thirteen male assistants and models have accused fashion photographer Mario Testino of groping and subjecting men to sexual advances. 

In a report by The New York Timesthe men detailed their accounts of abuse and sexual exploitation at the hands of two of some of the most powerful men in the fashion photography world. 

If you said you were not going to work with someone like Bruce Weber or Mario Testino, you might as well just pack it in and go work in another industry," said former modeling agent Gene Kogan. "It was general practice to give a model a heads-up about a specific photographer who we knew had a certain reputation."

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The reputations for Testino and Weber include unnecessary nudity and molestation, according to 28 men who all say they experienced sexual harassment while working with them. 

“I remember him putting his fingers in my mouth, and him grabbing my privates,” said the model Robyn Sinclair while recalling one of Weber's private session where he led models through breathing and energy exercises. “We never had sex or anything, but a lot of things happened. A lot of touching. A lot of molestation.”

Weber, who worked on racy advertisements for brands like Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch, was known for these breathing exercises. They even earned a name among the models: Brucified. 

“It’s presented as an option, but it isn’t really,” said Erin Williams, a female model on two of Mr. Weber’s campaigns for Abercrombie & Fitch. “The models that didn’t go nude were always cut on day two, and those who did would stay for additional shoot days."

"The boys who would socialize with Bruce after the shoots, alone in his hotel room, would get booked for longer with the carrot of a major campaign being dangled in front of them.”

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One of those models, Josh Ardolf, described his experiences with the breathing exercises he had as a 20-year-old. 

"I was guiding his hand,” Ardolf said. “We did the chest, the shoulders, the head. Then I finally put his hand on my abs. Did the breathing. Right after that, he forced his hand right on my genitals. I was first in shock. I didn’t know what to think. I backed up. I felt very, very uncomfortable and very sick.”

“I felt helpless. Like my agency said, he has a lot of power. He’s done a lot of large campaigns. That was in the back of my mind. ‘I can’t screw this up. I already made it this far.’”

Testino, the man behind the iconic engagement photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton, was called a sexual predator by one of his abusers. 

Model Ryan Locke said that casting for a shoot took place at Testino's hotel and that when Testino opened the door to his hotel room, he was wearing a loose robe. 

During the shoot, which was for Gucci, they were taking photos on a bed, and Testino said: "I don't think he's feeling it. Everybody out."

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“He shuts the door and locks it," Locke said. "Then he crawls on the bed, climbs on top of me and says, ‘I’m the girl, you’re the boy.’ I went at him, like, you better get away. I threw the towel on him, put my clothes on and walked out."

Some of Testino's former assistants also said that he had a pattern of hiring young, heterosexual men and subjecting them to aggressive sexual advances. 

Representatives for both photographers said they were both dismayed and surprised by the allegations. 

“I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny,” Weber said in a statement from his lawyer.

Testino's lawyer challenged the credibility of the accusers. 

“What I’ve heard over the last couple of days is so uncharacteristic of what I would expect out of him that it kind of blew my mind,” said Jeff Aquilon, a longtime muse of Weber. “I did speak to him a day or two ago. I said: ‘Bruce, I can’t believe what is out there. Sorry to hear what you’re going to have to go through here.’ He just said, ‘Will you pray for us?’ I said I definitely would.”

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Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 10:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango’s Facebook page. You can follow her on Instagram (@blackw00d) and Twitter (@emztweetz).