Queens of the Stone Age leading man Josh Homme did something at a show last night that seems both willful and horrifying. In the middle of a song, with no reason or provocation, he walked over to photographer Chelsea Lauren and kicked her squarely in the camera and face. Lauren, who was shooting the show for Shutterstock, seems to have been simply doing her job from the pit.
The whole incident was caught on video as well as in photos, with Lauren taking to Instagram to vent her disbelief and ask “WHO DOES THAT?” after the show last night.
Thanks to Josh Homme @queensofthestoneage I now get to spend my night in the ER. Seriously, WHO DOES THAT?!? #joshhomme #queensofthestoneage #qotsa #qotsafamily #concertphotography #musicphotographer
Later, Lauren uploaded a series of three photos from the incident. Two showing the moment right before she was kicked, and a third showing Homme “later after he cut his own face with a knife. I was in the pit in tears – and he just stared at me smiling.”
Thank you everyone that has reached out with supportive messages. A small update, as I’m being flooded with questions: My neck is a sore, my eyebrow bruised and I’m a bit nauseous. The doctor released me early in the morning. Here are three images. Two of them as Josh looked at me, smiled and then kicked me. The other one is later after he cut his own face with a knife. I was in the pit in tears – and he just stared at me smiling. Assault in any form is not okay, no matter what the reasoning. Alcohol and drugs are no excuse. I was where I was allowed to be, I was not breaking any rules. I was simply trying to do my job. I hold nobody accountable for this but Josh himself. KROQ has nothing to do with this and I will always support them. The irony is someone had thrown an ice cube on to the very slick catwalk before the QOTSA set. I was afraid that one of the band members might slip and hurt themselves so, when the lights went dark, I used my arm to wipe down the runway so nobody would hurt themselves. Thank you to @variety for their immediate concern and care with this matter. As of now, nobody from QOTSA has reached out to me. #queensofthestoneage #QOTSA #JoshHomme
Lauren tells Variety that it was “obviously very intentional,” saying later that she spoke out because “I feel like if I don’t do anything, he gets to kick people in the face and not get in trouble because he’s a musician.”
For his part, Homme has since released two apologies. The first, published through the Queens of the Stone Age Twitter account characterized the incident as an accident.
Last night, while in a state of being lost in performance, I kicked over various lighting and equipment on our stage. Today it was brought to my attention that this included a camera held by photographer Chelsea Lauren. I did not mean for that to happen and I am very sorry. I would never intentionally cause harm to anyone working at or attending one of our shows and I hope Chelsea will accept my sincere apology.
But with both photo and video evidence seeming to show that the kick was intentional, this first apology came off more callous than sincere. It was followed by two tearful video apologies posted to Instagram:
Interestingly enough (though, perhaps, not surprising) it seems that other photographers have been warned about Homme in the past. In a post on her Facebook page, photographer Tanya Voltchanskaya said that she was told not to stand in front of Homme during a show back in 2014 because, and here she quotes directly, “[you] will get a boot in the face.”
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