Tony Pianco, formerly Picanco or Picanso, also Picano, owns the London Life Drawing Society/Life Drawing Society UK (not actually a society but a business) which he uses as a vehicle to serially sexually harass female models. He has asked various models to:
- Provide lap-dancing
- Do private modelling sessions with “kisses, hugs and breast-feeding”
- Do private modelling sessions with “a bit of good old wrestling”
- Do a private modelling session which would start off normal but become “naughty but I carry on drawing/painting which is quite a challenge, that is if I have a hand available”
- One was asked to model privately with her daughter “now or when she is 16” (the daughter was 14 at the time).
Update: he also uses the name Tony Picanto, and we are reasonably sure his real name is James Tony Picanco.
Update February 2016: Tony Pianco is now trading as The Life Drawing Network. He simply calls himself Tony, but uses the same mobile phone number 07951613705 as previously. Please boycott this serial sexual harasser.
Update March 2016: a recent police investigation concluded that Pianco could not be charged with a criminal offence. That’s to say, there is no evidence he has committed a physical assault, or persistently harassed any one individual to the point where it amounts to a crime. However, there remains ample and substantial evidence that he has repeatedly requested sexual services from life models, which is totally outside the norms and professional standards expected within the life drawing community. He is now using the name James Tony Picanso, and remains as sleazy as he always has been. Avoid.
Update April 2016: Pianco has formally taken over the running of some groups on Meetup, eg HELP I CAN’T DRAW and WEST END LIFE DRAWING. Please boycott these groups. They were previously called LEARN TO DRAW with LIFE DRAWING for Individuals and Groups and WEST END LIFE DRAWING AND PORTRAITURE, and were officially run by Philip Firsov although Pianco organised the meetings and posted the notices. This association between Firsov and Pianco continued at least until early February, well after the latter’s behaviour was exposed.
Update May 2016: He’s now calling himself Tony French.
Update July 2016: further Meetup groups to avoid: BETHNAL-GREEN-WEEKEND-DRINK-DRAW-SESSION-with-TONY/ and SOCIAL-LIFE-DRAWING/
Update September 2016: he has now set up his own models group. Models: please be wary of http://www.meetup.com/LIFEMOD/ as members are not vetted and are permitted, even encouraged, to use the group to meet people and “make friends”. “Nothing will be done” to stop this – the implication being that sexual advances are fine whether or not the recipient wants them. Update October: the LIFEMOD group seems to have closed, but Pianco is now also running WEST LONDON LIFE DRAWING and has just founded MISS SKETCHY.
Update July 2017: the latest manifestation is the London Life Drawing Network. There are Facebook pages at London Life Drawing Network and at Life Drawing Network. Please avoid. As recently as May 2017, Pianco invited men on his mailing list to a men-only life class at which participants would be invited to touch the female model to “feel the pose” before drawing her. Needless to say, this has nothing to do with accepted life drawing practice.
Pianco has set up his own website. Update January 2018: Much of the information on it is inaccurate, to put it mildly. However, for the record, I am Hilary Curtis and I own, run and pay for this site. I used not to publish this information (although it was fairly easy to find out). But since Pianco has started mentioning me in emails to his network I thought it would be helpful to enable people to find this site by searching on my name.
What can you do?
If you are an artist or model: please avoid events held by the London Life Drawing Society, the Life Drawing Network or Tony Pianco. There are many other good life drawing classes run by artists/tutors who treat models with respect. Please ask your friends and contacts to boycott as well.
If you run a pub, club, meeting hall or other venue: please refuse bookings from the London Life Drawing Society, Life Drawing Society UK or Life Drawing Network or Tony Pianco.
If you have experienced harassment from Tony Pianco or anyone associated with him, please tell the police. Look for the London Life Drawing Models and Artists group on Facebook – members there can tell you the name and contact details of the detective concerned (message privately if you’d rather not say anything publicly).
One last point
We’re not puritans. We’re not against sex work in itself. But there are established rules and conventions in life drawing, which include treating models with respect. Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law, and Tony Pianco* is the kind of scumbag who gives the life drawing community a bad name. Let’s work together and shut him down.
*He’s also a bit silly and failed to register this domain name. So we did it for him. Oops.