Three women recount their experiences with the men who ran Pavement magazine and photographed for it, including allegations of sexual harassment, drugs and alcohol on set and sexual relations with a 15 year-old model. By Alex Casey and Noelle McCarthy.
This story was made possible by The Spinoff’s Longform Fund for investigative journalism.
It was May 1995 and Lizzie was celebrating her best friend’s 15th birthday at a suburban family home in South Auckland. A large group of teenagers spilled onto the driveway, drinking and banging their heads to a soundtrack of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and the Wu Tang Clan. She was tipsy when Pavement photographer Karl Pierard and Pavement creative director Glenn Hunt arrived at the high school house party. They were two men from the coolest magazine in the country, and she desperately wanted to be a model. Lizzie and Pierard got talking, and he gave her his business card.
“Call me and I’ll put you in Pavement.”
She remembers feeling pleased with herself that this “big magazine person” had shown an interest in her look. “I wanted to be a model bad, who doesn’t?” An outgoing 15-year-old who loved swimming, acting and drama at high school, Lizzie was already signed up to a modelling agency but needed to build up her portfolio. “Being offered free test shots was a really good thing, my agency would have been happy with that.” Price aside, the chance to shoot with a Pavement photographer was a big opportunity for any aspiring model.
A week after they met at the party, Lizzie showed up at Karl Pierard’s photography studio on Ponsonby Road to find that the two of them would be alone for her test shoot. “He obviously didn’t have many clothes there. It started out clothed but then I just did it in my underwear. He asked me to take off my top, so I did.” Feeling self-conscious about exposing her body, Lizzie tried to keep her hands across her bare chest as he photographed her.
When the shoot was over, Pierard, in his early 30s, approached Lizzie, 15. “He came on to me and kept trying to get it on … I just remember kissing on the couch, and then me asking him to take me home.”
He drove her back to her parents’ house in South Auckland.
Published between 1993 and 2006 and founded by editor Barney McDonald and creative director Glenn Hunt, Pavement magazine was an unparalleled touchstone for New Zealand youth and popular culture. “It was the coolest of the cool,” recalls Wallace Chapman, who was the creative director of Auckland student station bFM during the magazine’s heyday. Covering fashion, music, film, television, art and books, it was described by other readers interviewed by The Spinoff as their “holy grail” and “the only thing that was actually representative of what young people thought.” “It was the last word in fashion and it occupied an inordinate amount of media space,” recalls Chapman. “I can’t think of an equivalent power today.”
Other publications lauded Pavement as “the magazine that would come to reflect 90s cool,” (I.D) and an “iconic ambassador” for youth (NZ Herald). It was twice awarded Magazine of the Year, with McDonald once winning Editor of the Year. Covers featured international celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Naomi Campbell, as well as local stars Bic Runga, Peter Jackson and Danielle Cormack. All were shot exclusively in Pavement’s effortless, raw, lo-fi style – one that made stars of the photographers who worked for the magazine.
In researching this story over five months, The Spinoff has spoken to more than a dozen former contractors, staffers and models who were involved in the magazine across more than a decade. The three central women have signed affidavits to affirm their accounts, and their names have been changed to protect their identities.
Following the topless photoshoot at his studio, Pierard began ringing Lizzie repeatedly on her parents’ landline. She remembers feeling flattered by his pursuit. “When you are that age, you just feel special that they are giving you attention.” They began sleeping together. A close friend of Lizzie’s has confirmed that she knew of their sexual relationship at the time. Pierard took Lizzie out to Ponsonby’s SPQR and other “posh places” in the city. “Being a teenager from the ‘burbs, that’s quite attractive. None of your school friends are doing that,” says Lizzie. “I felt grown up hanging out with the photographer of a magazine.”
On another occasion during their relationship, Pierard encouraged Lizzie to come and visit him in his Parnell flat while still wearing her school uniform, she says. She was still in fifth form – Year 11 in today’s currency. “One day I had a casting when I had to come straight from school, and he thought that was awesome.” She describes him being “very excited” to see her in her uniform. “He loved it… I didn’t realise how sick it was at the time.” He used to refer to her and other young women as “cherries”, she says.
Karl Pierard, now living in London, did not respond to The Spinoff’s attempts to contact him via phone, email and social media. (To read the men’s responses to The Spinoff’s questions in full, click here.)
Before attending a fashion industry party one evening, Lizzie recalls taking both ecstasy and speed – she was still 15 years old – with Pierard and Glenn Hunt. “I just thought I was so grown up, I was in this adult world and I was appearing in magazines.” During this period of her life, Lizzie remembers her father telling her that she was growing up too quick. He eventually found out about Pierard and warned him to stay away from his daughter. “It didn’t last for much longer,” she says of their sexual relationship. “It wasn’t a long thing but it was big at the time.”
Pavement magazine thrived in a pre social media age. Its back pages were home to candid nightlife snaps from their infamous birthday parties and club nights, featuring everyone from touring musicians, to local soap stars, broadcasters, photographers and beautiful young models. “They were the epicentre of cool,” says a source who regularly attended. “The epicentre of Auckland.” Between the party photos, interviews and editorial shoots were full page ads from the likes of Absolut Vodka, Calvin Klein and local designers including Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester.
“You wanted to be seen in there,” recalls a source from the fashion industry at the time. “There were opportunities with Pavement that you just couldn’t get anywhere else.”
More notorious than the parties was Pavement’s controversial aesthetic that featured young women in various states of undress and dishevelment, inspired by the UK’s The Face magazine and the “heroin chic” trend made famous by Kate Moss. “Pavement had a really big personality in an era of magazines with big personalities,” recalls Wallace Chapman. “They knew what they liked – whether you liked it or not.” The public didn’t always like it. In 2006, The ‘Lost Youth’ issue was alleged to sexualise an 11 year old, joining the ‘Raw’ issue, the ‘Sex’ issue and the ‘Teen’ issue on the Chief Censor’s desk.
Olivia was 16 years old when she met Pavement’s artistic director Glenn Hunt in 1999. She was a rebellious Grey Lynn teenager who was into rap music and boys with fast cars. Olivia had done a bit of modelling already and – like many aspiring young women in the industry – believed Pavement was the pinnacle of where she wanted to take her career in New Zealand. “Before the internet, it really felt like Pavement opened up the rest of the world. We didn’t have social media, we had Pavement,” she says. “That was our portal.”
Hunt first offered to shoot her for a Pavement spread through one of her modelling friends but, since Olivia was young and relatively new to the industry, her mother would not let her take part without permission. “She knew how to smell a rat and said I couldn’t do anything until she met the guy.” Hunt, a thin and unimposing man, visited her family home in Grey Lynn. “He was relatively charming and clearly said all the right things. He made her feel comfortable.”
“She could see how much I wanted it, there was ego there for me.”
With her mother’s blessing, Olivia headed to Hunt’s apartment in Freeman’s Bay the following Saturday. She recalls being incredibly nervous and eager to make a good impression. “At the time, Pavement magazine was super cool and it was culty, something I really wanted to be a part of.” Three models had arrived already – one young man and two young women. They were lying on a blow-up mattress in the middle of the living room, decorated with a sleeping bag and mismatched pillows. Two women were there on wardrobe, hair and makeup.
Feeling insecure about exposing too much of her body, Olivia declined to try on the bra and mini-skirt that wardrobe had provided. Once the shoot started, Hunt offered her red wine, suggesting that it might help her “loosen up”. Olivia, still very anxious and keen to impress, accepted his offer. “At that point I had been drinking a bit with my high school friends, but I had no idea where it was going to take me … I’d never been drinking with that much anxiety, so it didn’t take long for me to get wasted. ”
Another model who featured in the shoot confirmed to The Spinoff that she had been warned by someone in the industry several days beforehand to be prepared for nudity, drugs and alcohol on Pavement shoots – things that weren’t considered “standard”. She was 19 years old, and had more experience working on shoots than Olivia. “I went into it with my eyes wide open. I was on guard because it was in his apartment on a Saturday evening. It was a time when people are getting ready for parties, it wasn’t a professional time.”
Olivia recalls the concept for the photoshoot being a group of young people coming home from a night out, wasted and in various states of undress and intimacy. “It was like the beginning of an orgy,” she remembers. Before the shoot had finished, Hunt took Olivia aside and gave her a pill in his bedroom. She swallowed it without knowing what it was, only later learning it was ecstasy. “I had never had it before.” Olivia confided in another model, who confirmed the interaction to The Spinoff, that Glenn had given her the drug.
“I remember that shocked me,” the model recalls. “We were getting changed in another room and Olivia said, ‘Glenn gave me an E.’” It was, she says, “the most unprofessional shoot I’d ever been on.” Being sober, slightly older and needing to drive home afterwards, she left the apartment at 9pm, she says, believing she saw Olivia get picked up around the same time.
If Olivia got into a car, however, it wasn’t to go home. Olivia’s next memory is waking up on the same blow-up mattress at around 2am, alarmed she was still in Hunt’s apartment. “I couldn’t go home because I was wasted. This was before I had a cellphone so I couldn’t call my friends, and I was too far gone to even recall their fucking phone numbers anyway.” Her next memory was being at Calibre, a Karangahape Road club, with Hunt at around 3 am. “I was 16 years old in a basketball singlet and a miniskirt. I would have looked like a fucking kid.”
Inside Calibre, Olivia recalls following Hunt to the toilet after he told her he was “going for a slash.” “I didn’t even know what a ‘slash’ was, I just didn’t want to be left alone.” The next morning she woke up in his bed, naked, with no memory of how she got there. “He was trying to cuddle me. I remember trying to push him away,” she says. She scrambled to find her clothes and left to a friend’s house nearby. “It’s funny, I always thought I was in the wrong for being there in the first place.” Nearly 20 years on, she still remembers how his bedroom smelt.
Hunt denies any inappropriate behaviour. While he did not respond to specific questions put to him, he said in an email he acted “with the highest level of integrity in carrying out my responsibilities at Pavement”. In another email he added, “Prior to meeting my ex-partner and wife of 13 years in 1999, I never dated or even slept with a single model – a conscious decision on my part to ensure my professional integrity.”
In a follow-up text message, Hunt said, “I’ve dealt with this kind of stuff all my career and it’s just ridiculous as I’ve always been ‘one of the girls’ and the kind of behaviour you’re insinuating has always disgusted me.”
He later texted saying that he had posted The Spinoff’s email requesting comment on his Facebook page. “If I have to rally the industry in our support I will because this is insulting and disrespectful to everything we stood for and contributed to the industry as a whole,” he said.
In the aftermath of the shoot in 1999, Hunt invited Olivia back to the Pavement office to look at the stills from that night. As he laid out the photos, Olivia was shocked to see herself in close-up and in the centre of the spread. Lying on the blow-up mattress entangled with the other models, she felt embarrassed by the obvious red wine stains on either side of her mouth. “I just remember being mortified and saying to him ‘you can’t print that, if my mum sees that I’ll be in so much trouble’.”
The photo was published in the next issue of Pavement. Olivia started getting more work.
Two years later, Olivia was invited by McDonald to do an underwear shoot. “I was really trying to get a bit more of a profile, and anything in Pavement was something,” she recalls. The shoot was to take place in the magazine editor’s house in Ponsonby. On arrival, Olivia realised the two of them were alone, and he had planned to use his bedroom as the set. “There were no other women there, nobody on hair and makeup, nobody on lighting. If you look at the photos you can tell, I’ve got little teenage pimples and my hair is a total mess.”
As it went to print, the shoot has a makeup credit for a “Laura”. But Laura did not exist, according to Olivia. Asked for a comment on this point, McDonald said: “If there was a hair and makeup credit, then there must have been a hair and makeup artist involved in the shoot … The name doesn’t ring a bell (this shoot and issue was 17 years ago), unless she did her own hair and makeup and we credited her as Laura – something that would have been done with her approval.”
Once they were in his bedroom, the location for the photoshoot, McDonald opened a wardrobe full of sex toys and erotic costumes, and asked Olivia to have sex with him, she says. She recalls being “dumbfounded” at the proposition and promptly declined. “I remember being absolutely mortified at the sex toys. I’d heard rumours about it but I never thought it was for real.” She remembers feeling deeply embarrassed, and assumed that she was in the wrong for being there, alone, in the first place. “I just had no idea.”
The photoshoot continued, with Olivia being photographed in skimpy light blue underwear on McDonald’s bed. When the shoot went to print, the photo chosen would show her kneeling on all fours, looking away from the camera next to the caption “sexy thing”. Olivia recalls McDonald having a visible erection while photographing her. “I remember when we were finished he said, ‘Let’s sleep together now,’” Again, she declined. “I found him repulsive, so I just talked my way out of it and got out of there.”
In their own words: Two of the women who shared their stories speak with Noelle McCarthy about what happened to them as teenagers and how those experiences affected them in the years that followed:
McDonald disputes Olivia’s account of that day. He rejects the suggestion he attempted to sleep with her. “I did NOT ask her to have sex with me,” he said in an email. “Firstly, because she was a friend; secondly, because that wouldn’t have been professional.”
He added: “I remember the shoot because it was the only time I photographed a model in my bedroom. “It was a one-page local lingerie label story and, since the model in question was a friend at the time, it didn’t feel inappropriate to shoot at my place, using my vintage bed as a prop.”
He further denies being aroused during the shoot, and that he had a closet full of sex toys. “Photo shoots are nerve-wracking because you want to get the shot right. A picture might look sexy on the page, but it’s never a sexy experience doing the shoot – for a model or a photographer.”
Darcy was 17 when in 2006 she left a small rural town to study law and health science at the University of Auckland. She was a country girl who had worshipped Pavement magazine growing up, calling it her only “conduit to cool”. She loved horses and was strongly academic. “I was a nerdy prefect who loved debating … But I really, really wanted to be a cool kid.” She first met Barney McDonald through her boyfriend, who was in a band that featured in Pavement, and began frequently visiting the magazine’s offices near Albert Park in her study breaks.
“Meeting famous people was better than burying my head into a law textbook,” Darcy recalls. “It was exciting at the time, I remember feeling like part of an adult world that I was catapulted into as a sheltered country girl.”
Not long after, she was asked to be photographed for their controversial ‘Teen Issue’. Darcy had no aspirations to be a model, but remembers feeling like she had finally been accepted into the cool club. “I was giddy with excitement, like I must be worthy of attention.” She was shooting with McDonald on the street in Auckland’s CBD when a group of men walked past. McDonald asked Darcy to throw her arms around them, and she remembers the photos coming across as “incredibly suggestive, like ‘a girl in every port’… I literally looked 12 at the time.”
Around this time she was further drawn into the Pavement scene, becoming part of its social fabric. Every Wednesday night, a big group would meet at the magazine’s office to drink and take drugs. Darcy remembers lines of speed being passed around “like feeding time”. She watched as her friends snorted it through a $5 note, and distinctly recalls it being like something she had only ever seen on TV. Darcy quickly learned she was expected to take part by way of “social currency”. She remembers thinking to herself, “I’m a part of this cool world,” which she admits “frightens the shit out of me now”.
After a while they would head out to Pony Club, a dingy underground bar beneath the strip club Showgirls that was then the haunt of the young Auckland media and celebrity set. Inside Pony Club, Darcy remembers being invited by McDonald to a small private room out the back to take drugs. “It was a shoulder-tapping currency; they would whisper to you to come and have a line. It was like a creepy confessional, you would go in one-on-one. You would need to ask if you wanted to bring someone, who would get turned down if they weren’t a hot young girl.”
Things changed between Darcy and McDonald one night at Pony, after she had taken ecstasy he provided. “He stuck his tongue down my throat on the dancefloor,” she recalls. “I remember feeling so nauseated and so violated. This guy was old enough to be my father and was making a sexual advance on me… it felt really wrong.” McDonald was in his late 30s at the time. She pushed him off and ran away.
“I knew I didn’t have to take that, but there were a couple of girls around who I knew weren’t too street smart – who didn’t have a boyfriend in a band telling them to stay away from these men.”
In response to questions about providing drugs and unwelcome sexual advances, McDonald characterised such claims as “supposition”.
All three of the women mentioned hearing about the “European aesthetic” of Pavement. “Those guys would always talk about European magazines and photographers overseas having teenage girlfriends,” says Darcy. Lizzie recalls the men defending Pavement’s provocative aesthetic as ‘art’ and ‘fashion’ and assuring her “this is what’s happening globally.”
An ex-staffer from Pavement recalled using nicknames like ‘Pervement’ and ‘Depravement’ to describe the magazine while she was working there. “Making fun of it was the only way we could deal with the grossness of it.” A separate source who worked in the Pavement office was present when a young model called her mother after feeling pressured to take her top off during a shoot. Her mother called the police, who showed up to their High Street offices later that afternoon.
McDonald again rejects this account. “No model was ever pressured to remove their clothing for a Pavement shoot,” he told The Spinoff. “To my knowledge, the Police were never called to the office for any such complaint.”
Lizzie’s modelling career took off after her initial interactions with Pavement and her underage sexual relationship with photographer Karl Pierard. She left New Zealand for six years, appearing in international fashion titles including Vogue and Marie Claire. Her face appeared on a billboard in Times Square for a popular American clothing chain. “I had a great time and I made a lot of money and got to travel a lot … The only regrets I have are around my experiences with Karl,” she says.
“The thing that gets me is that modelling agencies were supportive of me, but they never warned girls about these guys,” says Lizzie. Because she was never told otherwise, at the age of 15 she thought it was normal to be hanging out with – and sleeping with – a man in the industry who was more than twice her age. “Look, I still would have partied and done all those things. But as a 15-year-old, he should not have been doing what he was doing with me. Absolutely not. It was wrong.”
Upon her return to New Zealand at the age of 21, Lizzie bumped into Karl when she was out in Auckland with friends one night. She felt compelled to confront him about their relationship, calling him a “fucking paedophile” at the bar. A source who was present confirms this, and says he appeared “shocked” and then “subdued” following the interaction. Even today, 23 years later, Lizzie still partly blames herself for her “disgusting” relationship with Karl.
“The circumstances were that he was in his 30s and I was 15, and he used the allure of my photographs being in Pavement. And it worked – that’s what I’m upset about with myself.”
As Olivia’s profile in the industry grew, she moved to Sydney to pursue more international modelling opportunities. Once there, she found that the power dynamic in the industry was no different to back home. She began sleeping with a prominent fashion photographer who had promised her the world. “He would say things like ‘you’re so beautiful, I’m going to put you in Vogue one day, come home with me.’” Another photographer offered her a $20,000 contract if she slept with him, so she did.
“It was a total abuse of power, I had left school and modelling had become my full-time job, so the biggest fear was coming home empty-handed.”
Olivia found herself in a deep depression for about six months, and formed a serious drug habit to cope with her spiralling mental health. “I felt like I had sold myself to get work, like I had been farmed out to fuck people’s friends.” When word of her drug use got back to one of Olivia’s bookers in Auckland, the booker called her mother and told her that Olivia had been very “naughty”. “I was the one in trouble because I was the one who took the drugs. But I was in an unfamiliar country hanging out with a photographer that was going to put me in fucking Vogue, of course you’re going to take the drugs.”
“Not once did anyone ask ‘so why the fuck are you guys giving these young girls drugs in the first place?’”
Darcy looks back on her interactions with Pavement with feelings of revulsion and regret, in part blaming herself for what happened between her and McDonald on the dancefloor at Pony Club. “Afterwards I felt guilt and shame, and then I felt bad when I found out that worse stuff had happened to other women. I didn’t talk about it for years.” The normalisation of heavy drinking and drug use during this period impacted her life dramatically. She began doing theatre work, and would show up to rehearsals blackout drunk. “I thought that if I wanted to work in the arts, we would just have a drink to loosen up.”
She still worries about the young women of Pavement who might have had it worse than her.
On her three years modelling in New Zealand and Australia, Olivia now realises that boundaries were crossed. “I was preyed upon, I was drugged, I was fucked, I was passed around.” Her interactions with powerful men in the fashion industry were among the first sexual experiences she had, and would “set the tone” for the next 10 years of her life. “I’m angry. I’m so angry at them. They used their power to take advantage of me, I was so vulnerable… these men just saw me as a broken bird. They knew how to prey on me, and they did.”
After leaving the modelling industry, Olivia looks back on her career and wishes it never happened, that she had instead focussed on pursuits that “weren’t so full of rejection and false hope”. In hindsight, she also sees what needs to change. “There’s no other industry built on having that access to really young women. It needs to be a lot more stringent with who they leave alone with these girls”. Although decades have passed and Olivia is now in her thirties herself, the feelings of shame and guilt remain. “How fucked is that? I still feel guilty about what happened. I’m 35 and they still have power over me.”
“It just makes me cringe now when I think about it,” says Lizzie. “It makes me think that I was stupid for not seeing it back then. I have a lot of regrets, a lot of bad feelings about those times.” Whatever cultural landmark Pavement represented for Auckland and New Zealand in the late 90s and early 2000s, for these three women it left a much more sinister impression on their lives. “It was New Zealand’s equivalent of The Face, and so it was cool,” says Lizzie. “But these men used Pavement to be predatory towards young girls.”
“They thought they could get away with it, and they did. For years.”
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