The Margin: The naked baby on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album cover is now 30 and suing for ‘sexual exploitation’

This post was originally published on this site

Spencer Elden, the naked baby who graced the cover of Nirvana’s iconic album “Nevermind,” is suing the band and several others for sexual exploitation, claiming that he is a victim of child pornography.

Elden, now 30, is suing the defendants for at least $150,000 each, according to the suit obtained by MarketWatch. 

The suit, filed Tuesday in California’s Central District Court, names Nirvana, LLC; surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, as executor of Kurt Cobain’s estate; two managers of Cobain’s estate; Kirk Weddle, the photographer who took the picture; Robert Fisher, who was hired to design the album artwork; and several record companies that released or distributed the album. Strangely, Chad Channing, the band’s drummer from 1980-1990, is also named, even though he left the band before the album was recorded or the artwork was chosen.

Weddle took the photo of Elden in 1991, when he was 4 months old, and paid Elden’s parents just $200 for the shoot. The suit says that neither Elden nor his legal guardians ever signed a release for the image. Elden has said that he hasn’t received any further compensation for the photo.

Elden has expressed mixed emotions about the album cover photo, telling NPR in 2008, “Quite a few people in the world have seen my penis, so that’s kinda cool. I’m just a normal kid living it up and doing the best I can while I’m here.” He expressed a different view In 2016, when he said that “it’s f—ed up” and that he was “pissed off” that people still talk about it. Just a few weeks later, he told the New York Post: “The [25th] anniversary means something to me. It’s strange that I did this for five minutes when I was 4 months old and it became this really iconic image.”

Despite his conflicting feelings, Elden has recreated the photograph — while wearing trunks — to celebrate the record’s 10th, 17th, 20th and 25th anniversaries. 

The original album artwork features an underwater picture of Elden floating nude in a pool, chasing a digitally imposed dollar bill attached to a fish hook.

“To ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, Weddle activated Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals,” the lawsuit claims. “Cobain chose the image depicting Spencer — like a sex worker — grabbing for a dollar bill that is positioned dangling from a fishhook in front of his nude body with his penis explicitly displayed.”

Robert Y. Lewis, Elden’s lawyer, writes in the suit that Elden has suffered greatly from the image and its wide circulation, including interference in developmental and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life. The band sold and profited from more than 30 million copies of “Nevermind,” according to the filing.

Add Comment