Patricia Day (HorrorPops) suing Mattel over ‘Hard Rock Barbie’

HorrorPops frontwoman Patricia Day is suing Mattel for using her image for their Hard Rock Barbie without her permission.

Day says that she is recognizable because “her black hair meticulously done in 50’s pin-up fashion; her retro hairstyle juxtaposed against conspicuous and heavily applied black eye shadow and liner and deep red lipstick; her form-fitting ’50s-style pencil skirts that go just past the knees; her full-color ‘sleeve tattoos’ on both upper arms; and, most importantly, her distinctive instrumental extension of her personality: her giant tattooed upright bass. This final element – the giant tattooed upright bass (also known as a bass fiddle or double bass) – has become a singularly distinctive hallmark of Day’s public persona.” Day says her image was ripped from the cover of the HorrorPops’ album “Hell Yeah,” which came out in 2004 on Hellcat Records.

Mattel also made dolls in the likenesses of Joan Jett, Debbie Harry and Cyndi Lauper, and they are identified as such in the Barbie catalogue, but they were made with compensation to the women and with their permission. Day says she was not compensated for the Hard Rock Barbie.

As a feminist, Day’s complaint notes that she takes issue with her image being used in a way that subjects it to “the erotic male gaze… a vision that runs contrary and antithetical to everything for which Mattel’s Barbie line stands.”

Day wants production of the doll stopped, existing dolls recalled and destroyed and financial compensation for violation of her right to publicity and false endorsement.

Download a PDF of the complaint here. See the Barbie and Day side-by-side here.


  1. ghostcountry
    Ghost Country12/29/2010 1:56 PM | Permalink

    I can see what Day’s saying. But I think Mattel will get away with it, the doll takes inspiration from Day’s persona but isn’t bluntly (not legally) a rip off. it will pass, sadly.

  2. Tami Whynot1/4/2011 12:27 PM | Permalink

    I really do think Patricia has a case. What other women do you know that plays a stand up bass and looks like this? Her hair is the same. the art elements on the bass are the same. This is her! If that is not the case, why did Mattel stop selling the Barbie?

  3. big bob1/4/2011 12:42 PM | Permalink

    if they didnt use the bass they could have gotten away with it. i know plenty of females that look like that doll.

  4. Linn9/30/2011 2:18 AM | Permalink

    I agree Big Bob. Her look is very derivative anyway.

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