My mum has a crazy story. When she was young, she says she had some sort of vision that her baby was going to be everywhere. She started having my picture taken as a baby and giving it away as fridge magnets to friends. And then this Nirvana album cover happened and my picture was everywhere on billboards. Nevermind sold 3 Million copies by the time I was one.
I don’t think my parents really gave my taking part in this shoot too much thought. They knew who Nirvana were, but weren’t really into the grunge scene. I was four months old and my dad was attending art school at the time, and his friends would often ask for help with their projects. So his friend the photographer Kirk Weddle called him and said, “Do you want to make some money today and throw your kid in the pool?” And he agreed. My parents took me down there, apparently they blew in my face to stimulate my gag reflex, dunked me in, took some pictures, and pulled me out. And that was it. They were paid $200 and went to eat tacos afterwards. No big deal.
Weddle had shot a number of babies to find the right image, and they ended up choosing me. I think it’s because of my penis – a lot of the other babies were girls. Also, the composition seemed very natural. I am glad they chose me. And I am also glad it wasn’t for something like a Backstreet Boys album.
I’ve heard that originally the band wanted the image to be of a woman giving birth under water, but the record company thought that would be too graphic. So they compromised with this idea of a baby swimming after a dollar. People have interpreted it differently. I think it’s about an abandonment of innocence and everyone chasing money sooner and faster.
It is a weird thing to get my head around, being part of such a culturally iconic image. But it’s always been a positive thing and opened doors for me. I’m 25 now and an artist, and this story gave me an opportunity to work with Shepard Fairly for five years, which was an awesome experience. He is a huge music connoisseur: when he heard I was the Nirvana baby, he thought that was really cool.
It helps with girls, too. Sometimes girls chat me up about it more than the other way around. I don’t tell them it’s me, and my friends boast about it more than I do. I would never go up to anyone wearing a Nirvana T-shirt and say, “Hey, that’s me”, but I was once recognised on a bridge in Venice when I was there for the Biennale. An Italian guy stopped me and said, “You’re the Nirvana baby!” which I thought was the craziest thing. I don’t know how anyone would recognise me.
I might have one of the most famous penises in the music industry, but no one would ever know that to look at me. Sooner or later, I want to create a print of a real-deal re-enactment shot, completely naked. Why not? I think it would be fun.