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Star of Nirvana's Nevermind Cover Says It's Child Porn

Spencer Elden sues, demanding $150K each from photographer, band members
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2021 6:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – The man who posed as a naked baby for the cover of Nirvana's iconic 1991 album Nevermind has long felt the image is "creepy." Now, Spencer Elden is alleging that one of the most recognizable album covers of all time, one that he has recreated many times, is actually "child pornography." The image of Elden, shot by family friend and photographer Kirk Weddle, shows the naked 4-month-old underwater in a swimming pool, apparently chasing a superimposed dollar bill on a fish hook. "The image has generally been understood as a statement on capitalism," Variety reports, noting "non-sexualized nude photos of infants are generally not considered child pornography under law." In the lawsuit, however, Elden's lawyer, Robert Y. Lewis, claims the dollar bill makes the infant look "like a sex worker."

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The image "lasciviously displayed Spencer's genitals from the time he was an infant to the present day," reads the lawsuit filed in California, per the BBC. "Defendants intentionally commercially marketed Spencer's child pornography and leveraged the shocking nature of his image to promote themselves and their music at his expense," it adds, per Variety. Now 30, Elden—who claims to have suffered "lifelong damages" including "extreme and permanent emotional distress"—says his parents were paid $200 for the image but never signed any release. He's requesting at least $150,000 from each of 15 defendants, including Weddle; band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; and the executor of Kurt Cobain's estate, Courtney Love. Original Nirvana drummer Chad Channing is also named, though he left the band in 1990. (Read more lawsuit stories.)

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