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Man photographed for Nirvana's 'Nevermind' album cover files child pornography suit

Man photographed for Nirvana's 'Nevermind' album cover files child pornography suit
Spencer Elden, who was photographed nude as an infant on the cover of Nirvana's "Nevermind" album sued the surviving members of the band, including Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic (pictured here) the photographer and others involved with the shoot alleging he was the victim of child pornography. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- The man who was photographed as the naked baby swimming on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album filed a lawsuit alleging he was the victim of child pornography.

In the complaint filed Tuesday, Spencer Elden, 30, states that the image on the 1991 album -- which features him as an infant swimming underwater with his penis exposed as he reaches for a dollar bill -- portrays him "like a sex worker" and has caused him "lifelong damages."

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The suit seeks $150,000 from each defendant including photographer Kirk Weddle, surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as Courtney Love, the executor of the estate of the band's late frontman Kurt Cobain, alleging they "knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography."

Original Nirvana drummer Chad Channing is also named as a defendant despite being replaced by Grohl in 1990 before the album was recorded and the cover photography was shot. It further names several existing and defunct record companies that have released or distributed the album in the proceeding decades.

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The suit specifically accuses Weddle of producing "sexually graphic images" of Elden "with the goal of enhancing and increasing the commercial success" of the band and the album.

"Weddle took a series of sexually graphic nude photographs of Spencer," the suit states. "To ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, Weddle activated Spencer's 'gag reflex' before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer's exposed genitals."

Cobain agreed to release the album with a sticker covering Elden's genitals following pushback at the time of the release but the lawsuit states it was "never incorporated into the album cover."

The lawsuit continues to allege that the three decades in which the image has persisted as one of the most iconic images in rock music have caused Elden "permanent harm" including "extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological treatment, loss of enjoyment of life and other losses."

Neither Elden nor his guardians signed a release authorizing the use of the image, the suit states.

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In 2008, Elden's father, Rick, told NPR that Weddle called him to offer him $200 to "throw your kid in the drink" adding he arrived at "a big party at the pool" at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center where "no one had any idea what was going on!"

Elden has recreated the pose as a teenager and adult to celebrate the 10th,17th, 20th and 25th anniversaries of the album's release.

He has worn swim trunks in the subsequent photos but told the New York Post he requested to take the photo nude during the most recent recreation in 2016, but the photographer declined.

Elden's comments regarding the photo throughout the years have been mixed with him saying in 2007 that it feels "kind of creepy that many people have seen me naked" and that he is often asked to attend events as the "Nirvana baby."

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