David LaChapelle Fights SLAPP Suit and Wins

David LaChapelle on the red carpet.

For those not familiar with David LaChapelle, he is the former protégé of Andy Warhol and noted celebrity photographer who has a penchant for pushing the boundaries.  His photographs are often described as “surrealist, grotesque, shocking and ironic.”  Just google his images of Amanda Lepore to get an idea.

In 2005, LaChapelle broke out of his Annie Leibovitz box, and filmed the critically acclaimed dance-documentary Rize.  The film followed the lives of dancers in the poorest neighborhoods of Los Angeles.  The movie specifically chronicles a dance competition between two groups of performers: the Clowns (featuring older dancers wearing crazy clown makeup busting campy moves) and the Krumps (starring younger dancers with boring makeup showcasing aggressive moves).  Siouxsie found herself rooting for the Clowns (they are really awesome).

In 2008, a company claiming that it had an existing contract with dancer Thomas E. Johnson, aka “Tommy the Clown” sued LaChapelle over the profits from Rize. This is the kind of thing to expect when you enter into a contract with someone named Tommy the Clown.

Tommy the Clown is an amazing dancer, activist and makeup artist.

On Friday, a California appellate court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that it was a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation).  The court held that the lawsuit arose from LaChapelle’s exercise of free speech rights in connection with an issue in the public interest.  The court also concluded that the company’s claims against LaChapelle lacked merit.  And so, the court applied the anti-SLAPP law and struck the complaint.

A link to the unpublished opinion is here.

Photo Credit:  Tommy the Clown by GordonBellPhotography


~ by siouxsielaw on August 10, 2010.

3 Responses to “David LaChapelle Fights SLAPP Suit and Wins”

  1. wait… isn’t this Paris Is Burning, only with straight kids and clowns?

    not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m wondering.

  2. Tommy the Clown is awesome.

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