There’s trouble in Nirvana land again. It doesn’t involve new reports of heroin use or squabbles with Axl Rose. This time it concerns an upcoming book about the group titled Nirvana: Flower Sniffin’, Kitty Pettin’, Baby Kissin’ Corporate Rock Whores — the motto on one of the band’s T-shirts — and its authors, Britt Collins, founder of the pro-Nirvana magazine Lime Lizard, and Victoria Clarke, who has written for Lime Lizard and The Irish Post. After following group cofounder Kurt Cobain, 25, his wife, Courtney Love, 26 (leader of the band Hole), and the rest of Nirvana for half a year, Clarke and Collins made a big mistake in the eyes of Love, Cobain, and the band: They interviewed Lynn Hirschberg, who wrote a September Vanity Fair article alleging that Love used heroin while pregnant with her daughter, Frances, now 3.5 months old.
Feeling betrayed, Cobain and Love phoned Clarke and Collins last month and left a 5,000-word, 31-minute torrent of angry, obscene messages on Clarke’s answering machine, threatening the writers with everything short of thermonuclear war if they portrayed the band unfavorably. Even so, the book is slated to be published by Hyperion in the summer of 1993. As Love gave EW the Cobains’ side of the story by phone from their L.A. home, Cobain was heard in the background loudly advising her not to talk to journalists:
Mrs. Cobain? This is Tim Appelo from Entertainment Weekly, doing a story on your biographers —
How’d you get my number, Tim?
From the writers’ tape.
Oh, they sent their tape! That’s so lame! Imagine if you were being harassed (by writers) and you called them up and you go, ”F— you, stop it, leave me alone.”
How would you characterize your response to the writers?
I don’t think it’s that bad. I mean, I know we’re right. I mean, we might have been mean to them, but they violated us and raped us, and it’s just scary. I remember saying, like, ”I’ll f—ing haunt you till you f—ing die,” and I meant it, because this kind of s— cannot go on.
How did this all start?
Okay, well, they approached Nirvana and they had this synopsis that was eerily butt-kissing. It was like, ”Yeah, we want to talk to relevant, important bands,” you know? It was this kind of smarmy, excuse-me type thing. They had no qualifications to write a book at all.
But things got bad when they talked to Lynn Hirschberg.
The things that Lynn Hirschberg did with lying and misquoting and just the portrait she painted of me — listen, I used to be really honest about things, but ever since Lynn Hirschberg I’m not gonna be honest about anything anymore. She painted a picture of a person who has no ethics, no discipline, does heroin (during) her pregnancy. Give me a break. I mean, I went to college. I’m not insane. Lynn Hirschberg is really obsessed with me and she’s just, you know, really mainstream. She does celebrity profiles and puff pieces. (Hirschberg stands by her story: ”I taped the interviews and I wrote what I saw.”)
You’re saying that, after the writers talked to Lynn Hirschberg, their book shifted from art to your personal life?
All of a sudden their whole agenda changed. All of a sudden they’re calling people who claimed to have slept with Kurt. Britt got ahold of one of my ex-boyfriends. They went to Kurt’s Aunt Judy (Milne) and — listen to how obsessed they are with me. They get to Aunt Judy’s and all they do is talk about me. What do you think of Courtney? What do you think of what she wears? What do you think her influence on Kurt is? (Clarke claims Milne brought Courtney up; Milne angrily denies this, calling Clarke ”a very strange young woman.”) They’re obsessed with the fact that me and Kurt got married and had a child. It’s very sexist and stupid. They’re discussing me as if I’d never had a band or made any sort of contribution to my culture, which is, you know, punk rock. Their whole point is that I’m not an artist — all I am is this crazy, dysfunctional, manipulative person.
On the tape, you threaten the writers with lawsuits and a nationwide ad campaign besmirching them.
That’s not gonna happen. I don’t want to give them any more press. What they’re doing is really retarded.
So what’s next for you?
I just did a single this week. It’s gonna be released in Europe. F— this country, man. Do you know what kind of mail I get now? Like morbid, like people who collect John Wayne Gacy paintings and stuff? Like weird freaks.
Crazy people are out there.
I know. But that usually happens to heavy-metal people. It doesn’t happen to punk-rock people.
But now punk rock is mass market.
Yeah, I guess. You know, I wish Kurt was really fat or in a band that was smaller. ‘Cause the kind of emotions that the whole archetype of, like, the white male rock star brings out in people is very gross.
Has it made you distrust the press?
I’ll tell you, what’s important in this life is being honest and not telling lies. (In the background, baby Frances starts vocalizing.)
Your baby is taking this to heart.
Yes, she’s got our genes. I have to go. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.