The sexual harassment claims that have taken over Hollywood in the past several months have begun to make their way into the fashion industry, where rumblings of tell-alls have been underway since the New York Times published a wildly damning expose on mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. Male model Jason Boyce has slapped one of fashion’s most famous photographers, Bruce Weber, with a strongly-worded lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.
According to Boyce’s complaint, which was filed this week in state court in New York, during a shoot in December 2014 at Weber’s Manhattan studio, Boyce was left feeling “terrified and repulsed” after Weber, 71 – who is married to his longtime agent Nan Bush – kissed Boyce on the lips, removed Boyce’s underwear and forced Boyce to touch his own genitals.
Boyce alleges that on the same occasion, Weber “put his fingers in Mr. Boyce’s mouth. Shocked, Mr. Boyce opened his eyes. Mr. Weber told him to keep his eyes closed, and kept his fingers in Mr. Boyce’s mouth. ‘If you just had confidence, you’d go really far,’ Mr. Weber whispered. ‘How far do you want to make it? How ambitious are you?’”
The complaint further asserts, “Mr. Boyce felt intense dread at the thought of a modeling career in an industry where Mr. Weber was considered by many to be a top photographer and primary champion of male models. He was worried that he would continue to run into Mr. Weber throughout his career. He experienced anxiety, depression, and high levels of stress.” As a result, Boyce says that he was forced to move away from New York and was allegedly dropped by his agent Jason Kanner in September 2016.
Boyce claims that he suffered “mental anguish and humiliation, as well as adverse employment consequences, including loss future wages, professional opportunities, and other valuable benefits and emoluments of employment” as a result of Weber’s behavior, for which he is seeking monetary damages to the tune of $2 million.
And Boyce doubts he is the only one to fall victim to Weber. His complaint states, “Upon information and belief, Mr. Weber has engaged in similar conduct with other male models referred to him by Kanner and Soul Artist, and Mr. Kanner and Soul Artist Management are aware of such conduct.”
Both New York-based modeling agency Soul Artist Management and its founder, Jason Kanner, have been named as defendants in the lawsuit, as well. The agency, which is known primarily for its male models, boasts a roster that includes Chad White, Cory Bond, Marcus Schenkenberg, Paolo Roldan, Simon Nessman, and Tyson Beckford.
Weber, who, according to the Post, declined to comment on the criminal litigation that has been initiated against him, has shot campaigns for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Revlon, and Versace, among others. He’s routinely lensed editorials for Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Elle, Interview, and Rolling Stone magazines. Some of his most recent work includes campaigns for Versace, Frame Denim, Sies Marjan, Louis Vuitton, and David Yurman.
UPDATED (August 31, 2021): The parties resolved the case by way of a confidential settlement agreement in July 2021.
The case is Jason Boyce v. Bruce Weber et. al., 160630/2017 (N.Y. Sup.).