Back in August, it was revealed that Spencer Elden, the baby from the cover of Nirvana‘s massive 1991 album Nevermind, was suing the band’s remaining members and Kurt Cobain’s estate, claiming that his image on the album cover is a form of child pornography. Now, it’s been revealed that Elden has amended the lawsuit, cutting out defendants while including new evidence which suggests that the cover was always meant to be sexual in nature.
For those of you who don’t remember, Elden’s suit claimed that his appearance on the album cover has caused him “lifelong damages,” and that his legal guardians never signed a release “authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness, and certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him.” Elden is also suing for distribution of private sexually explicit materials, negligence, and what’s described as a “sex trafficking venture” where Elden “was forced to engage in commercial sexual acts while under the age of 18 years old.”
Now, Rolling Stone reports that Elden’s lawyers filed an amended version of the lawsuit in a Los Angeles federal court on Monday, November 22. The new version drops former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing (who left Nirvana in 1990, before Nevermind was released), Warner Music, and Heather Parry and Guy Oseary (former managers of Cobain’s estate) as defendants.
However, it also includes claims that Elden was later dressed up and posed as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, suggesting that the photoshoot was inherently sexual. It also claims that photographer Kirk Weddle provoked “Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals,” specifically intending on “triggering a visceral sexual response from the viewer.”
Perhaps worst of all, if they are real, are “undated journal entires” from Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain which allegedly outline a vulgar original vision of the Nevermind album cover: “Undated journals written by Cobain sketch the album cover in a sexual manner, with semen all over it. In several instances, the journals describe Cobain’s twisted vision for the Nevermind album cover, along with his emotional struggles: ‘I like to make incisions into the belly of infants then fuck the incision until the child dies.’”
Spencer Elden has recreated the cover in the past — here and here — but in a 2016 interview, Elden revealed he was unhappy about his participation, saying, “Recently I’ve been thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t OK with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?’ I didn’t really have a choice.” However, Elden then goes on to say his mind began to change when Nirvana were uninterested in taking part in his art show, saying, “Why am I still on their cover if I’m not that big of a deal?”
More on this story as it unfolds.
Words by Chris Krovatin