Nevermind Baby Amends Lawsuit Against Nirvana, Alleges He Was Also Photographed as Hugh Hefner
Spencer Elden, the 30-year-old man who was the four-month-old baby on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind, has amended his lawsuit against the band, claiming, amongst other things, that he was also photographed as a mini version of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
The suit, first filed in August, claims that neither Elden nor his legal guardians consented to the photo; that the band failed to make good on a promise to cover his penis with a sticker; that he has been sexually exploited; and that he has suffered lifelong damages as a result of the image. He’s seeking $150,000, at minimum, from each of the defendants named in his suit, which would total a minimum of $2,550,000. Additionally, Elden is seeking legal fees and an injunction, which would prevent his penis from appearing on all future pressings of the album’s cover (although Elden’s opportunity to stop the photo from gracing the packaging of the 30th anniversary super-duper-extra-special deluxe reissue has passed — it was released on November 12).
Rolling Stone reports that an amended version of the lawsuit was filed in a Los Angeles federal court on Monday, November 22. This updated iteration of the complaint drops former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing (who left Nirvana in 1990 over a year before Nevermind‘s release), Warner Music, and Heather Parry and Guy Oseary (former managers of Cobain’s estate) as defendants.
More importantly, it also presents additional allegations and context intended to prove that the band always intended the image to be sexual in nature.
This context includes excerpts from the personal journals of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, which were posthumously published by Riverhead Books in 2002:
“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.’”
The new version of the lawsuit further claims that photographer Kirk Weddle provoked “Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals” with the express intent of “triggering a visceral sexual response from the viewer.” Furthermore, it alleges that “Weddle soon after produced photographs of Spencer dressed up and depicted as Hugh Hefner.” As the exhibitionist founder of Playboy, Hefner is, of course, naturally associated with sex and the sensationalism of sex as a matter of course.
In 2007, Elden claimed that his parents, Renata and Rick Elden, were paid just $200 for the photo. Still, he has, in the past, embraced his role in rock history, getting “Nevermind” tattoed across his chest and participating in a recreation of the album cover photo shoot in 2016.