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UPDATE: Homeless Men Sue Bumfights Producers

2 Oct, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

The producers of the controversial BumFights low-budget video will have to defend their product in civil and criminal courts in San Diego following criminal charges and a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of some of the video's homeless participants.But the makers of the video, who are working on a second installment in the franchise, said they have done nothing wrong and that all the participants in BumFights: A Cause for Concern, Volume I were willing and were paid in food or shelter.Rufus Hannah — aka “Rufus the Stunt Bum” — and Donald Brennan filed a civil suit in San Diego Superior Court last week.“The defendants coerced fragile, vulnerable human beings into despicable performances without any regard for their rights or personal safety,” said plaintiffs' attorney Browne Greene. “This lawsuit has been filed … to send a clear message that such egregious behavior, which assaults not only the mind, but the spirit, will not be tolerated.”Named in the lawsuit are production company principals Ray Leticia, Ty Beeson, Ryan E. McPhearson, James McPhearson, Zachary Bubeck, Daniel J. Tanner, Michael J. Slyman, and Indecline Productions, the parties behind the production, as well as Inkers Tattoo & Body Piercing.The homeless plaintiffs seek damages for acts allegedly done at their physical and emotional expense, for example: tattooing the word “BumFights” in bold letters across their forehead and other body parts, burning their hair, and running into stone walls, crates and other inanimate objects.In the criminal case, Tanner, Bubeck, Slyman and Ryan McPhearson are each charged with a felony count of solicitation to commit a felony and could face other charges as the case is built, Deputy District Attorney Curtis Ross said.But the filmmakers defend their project.“The fact of the matter is, Rufus has already made statements to the media that he wasn't forced to do anything and he loves the BumFights crew,” Beeson said. “It's real life. It's things that happen on the street with or without us. It's amateur boxers in street fights. It's the lifestyle on the streets. A lot of people don't understand why we are doing this. We're really enticed by this. Most people wouldn't give a homeless person the time of day. We acknowledge them.”Indecline has shipped 300,000 copies of the title since launching its Web site in April. At $20 a pop, that comes out to about $6 million return on a small investment. Besides direct response over the Internet, Beeson said the company ships the title all over the world and that it's popular domestically at surf and skate shops.“We're doing thousands and thousands of wholesale orders a day,” he said. Although he said Camelot Music stores would stock the title, Camelot stores are no more.Mark Higgins, divisional merchandise manager, home video, for Transworld, the parent of the former Camelot stores, said they would not stock it. “I had heard about it a while back, and I inquired about the goods,” he said. “I looked at the content, and I didn't care for it. I thought it was more like the Backyard Wrestling. I didn't think the content was of any value to anybody.”

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