opinion

China Barbie no dream ho for Mattel

Gram Ponante
I spoke with performer/director China Barbie, who last month was sued by Mattel lawyers in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The manufacturer of the blonde, blue-eyed doll Barbie claims the performer made a "bad faith attempt to profit from Mattel's Barbie trademarks."

The New York-based model, who is part African-American and part Chinese-American, says "I am the antithesis of the blonde, blue-eyed girl. It's ridiculous that Mattel is suing me."

Barbie learned of the suit yesterday when a friend called to tell her. She had not been contacted by Mattel or the court.

"I was wondering why I was getting all these friend requests on MySpace," she said.

Barbie, who adopted that name in late 2000 because "another model I liked used Barbie, and I liked the sound", launched her website in 2002.

She wonders why Mattel is so poky and selective in suing her, when there are dozens of Barbies on the web, and on sites like One Model Place and Model Mayhem.

It does seem odd that it has taken Mattel's lawyers so long to find her, but the focus may have come as the result of an unhappy accident: Mattel has had to recall several Barbie products made in China for lead poisoning. Google search terms bring the world together.

"I've always been under the radar," Barbie said. "I did a few movies and then I left the business." According to the Internet Adult Film Database, Barbie appeared in 26 films. She is now directing a line called "Butt Cakes" in New York, where she lives. She might appear in future films, she said, but only those she directs.

"I'm overwhelmed by this suit," she said. "I'm in no position to fight Mattel. But you can see from my website that I absolutely don't trade on the name or image of Mattel's 'Barbie'. I don't use the illustrations, I don't even use the font."

Barbie says she is willing to talk with Mattel and even make changes to avoid a legal battle, but Mattel has demanded that she transfer her domain to the company and cede whatever money she has made from her nom de porn to them, in addition to $100,000.

"That's ridiculous," she said. "Why me out of the 50 or so girls out there named Barbie, and why after six years?"

Previously: Hardcore hears a hammer; No easy way out for Body Magic

See also: Mattel sues adult entertainment 'Barbie' site (usatoday), Toy recall puts attention on lead poisoning (reuters), China Barbie, China Barbie on MySpace

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