/ 1 October 2002

Bumfight heads for court

Two homeless men who say they were paid to hurt themselves and beat each other for a video sold on the Internet filed suit against the filmmakers, who also face criminal charges.

Donald Brennan and Rufus Hannah say the makers of ”Bumfights: A Cause for Concern” took advantage of their alcoholism to persuade them to ram their heads into steel doors and signs and get ”Bumfights” tattoos in bold letters across their hands and foreheads.

”When you’re drinking for 20 years as I have, when you don’t have a beer in your hand you would do anything to get one,” said Brennan, who bears a ”Bumfight” tattoo on his forehead in bold red letters and others on his arms and belly. ”Who in their right minds is going to run their heads into a sign?”

The men are seeking unspecified punitive damages for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil rights violations and other allegations.

After a three-month criminal investigation in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, prosecutors last month charged four filmmakers with paying Brennan and Hannah to commit felony assaults on each other.

The defendants — Ryan McPherson, Zachary Bubeck, Daniel Tanner and Michael Slyman — have withdrawn their innocent pleas or not entered pleas to argue that the charges have no legal basis.

La Mesa police have said about 300 000 copies of the ”Bumfights” tape have sold at $20 each. On the tape, a homeless man is seen ripping out his front tooth with pliers. Another man, a self-described crack addict, sets his head on fire. Others stomp and pummel each other until bloody.

”The real bums are the bums behind the camera, not the ones in front of the camera,” said Browne Greene, attorney for Brennan and Hannah. ”And those are the ones we’re going after.” – Sapa-AP