Spencer Elden, who appeared as a naked child on one of rock’s most iconic album covers – Nevermind by Nirvana He is suing the band claiming that he was sexually exploited as a child.
In a lawsuit filed in California District Court against several parties, including surviving band members, Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, and record companies that have released or distributed the album in the past three decades, Elden alleges that the defendants produced child pornography. With the photo of him swimming naked towards a dollar bill with his genitals visible.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of having committed “commercial child sexual exploitation of children from when he was a minor to the present day… Defendants intentionally produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer.”
Elden, who was four months old when the photo was taken, says he suffered “lifetime damage” from the 1991 album cover, including “severe and lasting emotional distress with physical appearances,” as well as loss of education, wages, and “enjoyment of life.” “.
The lawsuit alleges the photo is “sexually graphic,” and says it makes Elden look like a “sex worker – grabbing a dollar bill.” She claims that Elden never paid to appear on the cover, and that his parents never signed a release form for the photo, which was shot specifically for the album cover. It was previously reported that Elden was paid $250.
Elden is seeking damages of at least $150,000 from each of the 15 defendants, plus costs, and is asking that the case be tried by a jury. The defendants have not yet responded to the lawsuit and have not commented publicly on it. The Guardian contacted Elden, his attorney, and managers Nirvana The estate for further comment.
In 2016, Elden recreated the photo with The New York Post to celebrate the album’s 25th anniversary, saying, “It’s wonderful but strange to be a part of something so important that I don’t remember it.” That year he also said, “I’ve been thinking lately, ‘What if I don’t agree with showing everyone my dreaded penis?'” “I didn’t really have a choice.” He had previously recreated the image of Rolling Stone, aged 10.
In 2007, he told the Sunday Times that it was “kind of scary that so many people have seen me naked. I feel like the biggest porn star in the world.”
Robert Fisher, who designed the cover, said the photo was inspired by Kurt Cobain’s vision of a documentary about babies being born underwater. “[He] I thought the photo would make a great cover. That vision was very candid, so we went with the kid swimming instead.” Many fans view it as a comical image, suggesting ironically that the band, who signed a major label for the album, is making money.
Kirk Weddell, who took the photo, told The Guardian in 2019: “I keep in touch with Spencer. I used to think, ‘Man, when this kid turns 16, he’s going to hate my guts!” He doesn’t, but he’s conflicted about the photo. He feels That everyone makes money off of it and he didn’t. I think it’s worth something. But it’s always the record companies that make the money.”