Nirvana has been celebrating the 30th anniversary of Nevermind this year, but a looming cloud has been the lawsuit filed by Spencer Elden, the album’s cover star, alleging that the iconic photograph constitutes child pornography. Elden has now filed an updated case, according to Rolling Stone, alleging that he was also photographed disguised as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. They also reference some frightening Kurt Cobain notebook passages.
Of the Cobain journals (which were published by Riverhead Books in 2002), the documents note, “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 f*ck the incision until the child dies.’”
As for the Hefner part, the documents repeat the claim that photographer Kirk Weddle intended to “trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer” by activating “Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals.” Without explanation, the documents then continue, “Weddle soon after produced photographs of Spencer dressed up and depicted as Hugh Hefner.”
Last month, Dave Grohl said of the situation, “I don’t know that I can speak on it because I haven’t spent too much time thinking about it. I feel the same way most people do in that I have to disagree. That’s all I’ll say. […] Listen, he’s got a Nevermind tattoo. I don’t.” A few weeks before that, he indicated he’s open to changing the album cover, saying, “I have many ideas of how we should alter that cover but we’ll see what happens. We’ll let you know. I’m sure we’ll come up with something good.”