THE ANGELS – A 30-year-old man who appeared nude at 4 months on the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album “Nevermind” is now suing the band and others alleging the image is child pornography they profited from.
The lawsuit, filed by Spencer Elden Tuesday in federal court in California, alleges that Nirvana and the labels behind “Nevermind” “intentionally marketed Spencer’s child pornography and took advantage of the shocking nature of her image to promote themselves and their music at their expense.
The suit says that Elden has suffered “damages for life” from the pervasive image of him naked underwater apparently swimming after a dollar bill dangling from a hook.
He is seeking at least $150,000 from each of the defendants, who number more than a dozen and include Kurt Cobain’s estate, surviving Nirvana members Krist Novocelic and Dave Grohl, and Geffen Records.
Representatives for the defendants did not immediately return emails seeking comment.
Elden is filing the lawsuit now because he “finally has the courage to hold these actors accountable,” one of his attorneys, Maggie Mabie, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Mabie noted that although the photo is 30 years old, the lawsuit is within the statute of limitations under federal child pornography law for several reasons, including that the image is still in circulation and generating revenue.
Elden also wants the new versions of the album to be modified.
“If there’s a 30th anniversary reboot, he wants the whole world to not see his genitalia,” Mabie said.
When the cover photo was taken, Nirvana were a little-known grunge band and had no idea they were creating an album that would define their generation with “Nevermind,” their first major-label release whose songs include “Smells Like Teen.” Spirit”, “Come as You Are” and “Lithium”.
Elden’s father was a friend of the photographer, Kirk Weddle, who took photos of several babies swimming on various stages at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center in Pasadena, California.
“Cobain chose the image showing Spencer, as a sex worker, clutching a dollar bill that is attached to a hook in front of his nude body with his penis explicitly exposed,” the suit says.
Elden has recreated the image several times, always in clothes or a swimsuit, for album release anniversaries, and has expressed mixed feelings about it in interviews that have grown increasingly negative over the years.
In 2015, he told the New York Post that it was “cool but weird to be a part of something so big that I don’t even remember.”
“It would be nice to get a quarter for every person who saw my baby penis,” he added.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they have been victims of sexual abuse unless they speak out publicly, as is the case with Elden.
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