Nearly Blinded by Crowd Injury, Community Rallies to Help RITM’s Bunny

bunny

A literally blinding eye injury from a festival in South Korea has changed the life or Rabbit in the Moon’s Bunny forever. The dance community is rallying to help him, this Saturday with a benefit dubbed the Bunnyfit, at Giant’s anniversary party in LA on September 6th.

For more than a decade, Rabbit in the Moon has pushed the boundaries of live electronic music through stunning stage antics, theatrical costumery, and a dedication to expressing the best of life through their music. RITM frontman Bunny personifies what the group is all about, and he’s become a sort of icon in the dance community. He is warm and gracious to eager fans who declare their obsession with him after a gig and accessible on stage and off for those who want to share in the love-filled rave or post rave experience.

It’s a cruel irony then that Bunny would fall victim to an act of violence that has caused his near-blindness brought on by an audience member. This past May, Bunny and Rabbit in the Moon were hired to perform at the second Annual World DJ Festival in Seoul, South Korea. Bunny performed the first night and accompanied his friends DJ Dan and Donald Glaude to the festival the second night when they performed, assisting them with some technical and sound issues. It was the second night when a glass bottle, thrown by a member of the festival’s crowd, was launched intentionally and directly at Bunny, hitting him squarely in his left eye, destroying his retina, lens, some skin underneath, and his vision. He talked exclusively to Big Shot about his ordeal and the painful aftermath.

“I was standing next to Dan and I got hit in the chest with like, a coin, and some dude in the crowd was flipping me off and looking at me like ‘yeah, I threw it.’ I didn’t think anything of it, just what happens at festivals and stuff.”

“It went right to my face. I got hit in the eye with a bottle. It went directly into my eye. I immediately collapsed, bleeding. They carried me off and took me to the hospital. I basically thought I lost my eye. I’m a visual artist, so losing an eye would be like… I mean, it’s a big part of my life and livelihood.”

It was 20 minutes later when the second object was thrown. “It went right to my face. I got hit in the eye with a bottle. It went directly into my eye. I immediately collapsed, bleeding. They carried me off and took me to the hospital. I basically thought I lost my eye. I’m a visual artist, so losing an eye would be like… I mean, it’s a big part of my life and livelihood.”

At the hospital, his flesh wound was stitched up, but he was given the option of having an immediate and dramatic surgery on this eye to recover some of the vision there in Seoul, risking complications that would have stranded him overseas, unable to fly for months. Bunny opted to return to the US, with the promoters’ promise that his medical expenses would be paid for. That was not the case.

Although every live music event is contractually obligated to insure themselves for these kind of accidents, and RITM’s contract with the promoters of this event was no different in its stipulations, it has become clear since this incident that any insurance policy on hand was insufficient. Unlike in the US, Korea has no law regulating punitive damages, meaning nobody can be sued for liability. Bunny has no legal recourse in Korea, only in the US, and even if the promoters are sued in a US court, they would have to be extradited to enforce a US court’s penalty of law.

Bunny has paid out of pocket for two surgeries this summer. At this point he has about 20% vision in his left eye, which renders his depth perception and peripheral vision obsolete. From the surgeries, he’s also acquired trauma-induced glaucoma, which creates erratic levels of a painful pressure on his eye. “It’s so extreme I can’t even put sentences together,” he says of the times when the glaucoma flares up.

 

It’s been four months since the accident. While he’s learned to manage the day-to-day details of his life, it’s understandable still an upsetting ordeal. He describes moments of waking up and thinking that it didn’t really happen, and then—upon looking at anything—realizes it’s all too real.

He estimates his basic monthly expenses for his eye care—including doctor’s visits and eye drops—is about a thousand dollars, and that doesn’t include any extra procedures or surgeries, many of which still loom in the future. Because so many artists like Bunny don’t have healthcare (certainly not group health plans either), and the US has no national healthcare, Bunny’s story has caught the attention of the dance community, which has organized a benefit, the Bunnyfit, to aid and offset his considerable medical expenses.

Naturally, DJ Dan and Donald Glaude are performing at the Bunnyfit, forgoing their fees to help their friend. Other performers include LA-based artists like Sandra Collins and her husband Vello Virkhaus, Quivver, and Freddy Be. Rabbit in the Moon, of course, will also DJ at the event.

This experience has impacted Bunny in ways yet to be seen, not the least of which is his intermittent anxiety about what could happen to him when he’s on stage. “Things I never thought of in fifteen years of interacting with an audience,” he says of these fears.

Luckily for his fans and his own life, he hasn’t let any of this stop him. “I have to trust. I am at the mercy of the audience and they are to me.”

Words: Zel McCarthy

Update: September 6, 2008
Since this story first ran on September 3rd, we’ve received a great deal of feedback from fans and members of the dance music community. Many have asked if there’s a way to help the cause if you’re not in the LA area. Bunny has sent us a link to a page set up specifically to help him out. To make a secure donation, you can visit TheBunnyCoalition.com.

Darren Ressler

36 Comments

  1. Amazing story. Sad that the promoters were not held liable and also sad that such a huge group RITM doesn’t even have health insurance. This story really hits home for me because I suffered an offensive eye injury this month and literally had to be taken to the hospital and then told that I needed immediate limiting emergency eye surgery to save my vision and possibly my eye from infections and other immediate dangers. I opted to go for it instead of wait like so many people do in that situation and I am glad I did because as of today(3weeks from surgery)I have regained almost 90% of my eye movement and vision ability. There is always an uncertainty that you have to live with when you face these issues and it is something that threatens the lifestyle of a visual artist always impeding his ability to follow through the way he is used to certainly doing and always looking at things in a secondary fashion almost having to re-examine everything now before reacting or acting on anything. I feel it for you bunny. I hope you get your vision back. Try Trusopt Glaucoma drops to keep the swelling pressure in your eye down to normal. Good luck!
    Joshernaut

  2. Amazing story. Sad that the promoters were not held liable and also sad that such a huge group RITM doesn\’t even have health insurance. This story really hits home for me because I suffered an offensive eye injury this month and literally had to be taken to the hospital and then told that I needed immediate limiting emergency eye surgery to save my vision and possibly my eye from infections and other immediate dangers. I opted to go for it instead of wait like so many people do in that situation and I am glad I did because as of today(3weeks from surgery)I have regained almost 90% of my eye movement and vision ability. There is always an uncertainty that you have to live with when you face these issues and it is something that threatens the lifestyle of a visual artist always impeding his ability to follow through the way he is used to certainly doing and always looking at things in a secondary fashion almost having to re-examine everything now before reacting or acting on anything. I feel it for you bunny. I hope you get your vision back. Try Trusopt Glaucoma drops to keep the swelling pressure in your eye down to normal. Good luck!
    Joshernaut

  3. While I agree health insurance isn’t cheap, doesn’t RITM earn enough gigging to have had insurance?

  4. While I agree health insurance isn\’t cheap, doesn\’t RITM earn enough gigging to have had insurance?

  5. I have been a HUGE RITM fan for about 9 plus years now and see then when ever I can…it angers me to the bone to hear/read that there are stuped people that go to shows to only make asses out of them self instead of having fun!! Best Whishes BUNNY!!

  6. I have been a HUGE RITM fan for about 9 plus years now and see then when ever I can…it angers me to the bone to hear/read that there are stuped people that go to shows to only make asses out of them self instead of having fun!! Best Whishes BUNNY!!

  7. How can a mega group like RITM not have enough money to cover a $1000 a month in medical expenses? I mean I feel bad for the guy, that sucks what happened, but maybe if you stopped parting for 5 minutes and saved some money you wouldnt be in this position.

  8. How can a mega group like RITM not have enough money to cover a $1000 a month in medical expenses? I mean I feel bad for the guy, that sucks what happened, but maybe if you stopped parting for 5 minutes and saved some money you wouldnt be in this position.

  9. Another reason to stay the hell out of Korea…

    Best wishes to Bunny!

  10. Another reason to stay the hell out of Korea…

    Best wishes to Bunny!

  11. Bunny got screwed twice on this deal.

    Normally, I’d say that was a good thing…

    (Giggity)

  12. Bunny got screwed twice on this deal.

    Normally, I’d say that was a good thing…

    (Giggity)

  13. Jon, anyone who’s been self-employed will tell you that paying $1000 a month for medical expenses can be a big nut to crack. And if you own your own corporation, you’re paying taxes twice on anything you earn. While I don’t know personally about Bunny’s partying lifestyle, paying for health insurance – especially for an independent contractor whose income fluctuates – can be a hardship. Have a heart! We wouldn’t be in this position if Congress would’ve passed Hillary’s health insurance package back in the day.

  14. Jon, anyone who’s been self-employed will tell you that paying $1000 a month for medical expenses can be a big nut to crack. And if you own your own corporation, you’re paying taxes twice on anything you earn. While I don’t know personally about Bunny’s partying lifestyle, paying for health insurance – especially for an independent contractor whose income fluctuates – can be a hardship. Have a heart! We wouldn’t be in this position if Congress would’ve passed Hillary’s health insurance package back in the day.

  15. Hi- I can’t make the event but I would like to donate. Is there a website?

  16. Hi- I can’t make the event but I would like to donate. Is there a website?

  17. How about we not turn this into a political pissing match? Who cares if he was insured, i wish him a speedy recovery.

  18. How about we not turn this into a political pissing match? Who cares if he was insured, i wish him a speedy recovery.

  19. i have met bunny a few times. once at one of his gigs and another time at an event we booked ritm for. he is a really intelligent and down-to-earth guy. its horrible that some idiot in the crowd would do that for no reason. i hope the person who did that gets stabbed in both eyes and lives the rest of his miserable life blind.

  20. i have met bunny a few times. once at one of his gigs and another time at an event we booked ritm for. he is a really intelligent and down-to-earth guy. its horrible that some idiot in the crowd would do that for no reason. i hope the person who did that gets stabbed in both eyes and lives the rest of his miserable life blind.

  21. Bunny doesn’t “party” FYI. As if losing an eye has a price?
    Use a dictionary/spell check while you re-adjust your input.
    You should re-direct your angry energy to the healthcare problem in the country for artists.
    Shit happens, have a heart – it might happen to you someday…

  22. Bunny doesn’t “party” FYI. As if losing an eye has a price?
    Use a dictionary/spell check while you re-adjust your input.
    You should re-direct your angry energy to the healthcare problem in the country for artists.
    Shit happens, have a heart – it might happen to you someday…

  23. i cant imagine flying back to the US on a 17 hour flight with a bumb eye. I hope they knocked him out.

    I wonder if bunny has looked into getting a bionic eye? Last I checked they were at 100×100 resolution, and they were working on a 1000×1000 resolution option. the eye is supposed to have a few million pixels of resolution and 1000×1000 comes pretty close. the rest of the resolution is filled in by the brain when the eye moves around.

    i know university of madison has a project and i would bet a few more are working on projects.

    since william shatner is part of the trans-humanist society, he might know more details about were some of the research is going. if there is not a viable technology now, bunny should have hope as electronics get 50% smaller every 18 months. so some day there should be a bionic option for bunny.

  24. i cant imagine flying back to the US on a 17 hour flight with a bumb eye. I hope they knocked him out.

    I wonder if bunny has looked into getting a bionic eye? Last I checked they were at 100×100 resolution, and they were working on a 1000×1000 resolution option. the eye is supposed to have a few million pixels of resolution and 1000×1000 comes pretty close. the rest of the resolution is filled in by the brain when the eye moves around.

    i know university of madison has a project and i would bet a few more are working on projects.

    since william shatner is part of the trans-humanist society, he might know more details about were some of the research is going. if there is not a viable technology now, bunny should have hope as electronics get 50% smaller every 18 months. so some day there should be a bionic option for bunny.

  25. Ouch!

    Bunny, sending you lots of loving, positive energy your way. Hope you can recover some of your eyesight and so, so sorry this has happened to you. Wishing you well!

  26. Ouch!

    Bunny, sending you lots of loving, positive energy your way. Hope you can recover some of your eyesight and so, so sorry this has happened to you. Wishing you well!

  27. What the hell is wrong with IDIOTS LIKE THIS, they should of yanked THE IDIOT person out of the crowd & beat the hell out of em for being soo stupid and then poked him in the eye with a sharp #2 pencil WUT A MORON !!

  28. What the hell is wrong with IDIOTS LIKE THIS, they should of yanked THE IDIOT person out of the crowd & beat the hell out of em for being soo stupid and then poked him in the eye with a sharp #2 pencil WUT A MORON !!

  29. I have met Bunny several times and been a big fan for years. He is so nice to all of his fans, I was back stage with him one night and everyone was taking pics with him and he was like everyone is sucking my soul out, then he saw the look on my face cause I didn’t get a pic and gave me a great big hug and took several pics with me. That’s just the kind of guy he is. I’m really sad that something like this could happen to such a great guy. Many blessings to you Bunny and God willing you will be able to perform again…

  30. I have met Bunny several times and been a big fan for years. He is so nice to all of his fans, I was back stage with him one night and everyone was taking pics with him and he was like everyone is sucking my soul out, then he saw the look on my face cause I didn’t get a pic and gave me a great big hug and took several pics with me. That’s just the kind of guy he is. I’m really sad that something like this could happen to such a great guy. Many blessings to you Bunny and God willing you will be able to perform again…

  31. I’m 23 and pay $120/month for insurance, 2500 deductible. If the group were to pay 1000 for all of these guys, VJ Tek, Shiva, etc…it should at least be comparable. Not sure if getting smashed with a bottle in another country would be covered.

    Be a journalist, keep the opinions about universal healthcare in another discussion.

  32. I’m 23 and pay $120/month for insurance, 2500 deductible. If the group were to pay 1000 for all of these guys, VJ Tek, Shiva, etc…it should at least be comparable. Not sure if getting smashed with a bottle in another country would be covered.

    Be a journalist, keep the opinions about universal healthcare in another discussion.

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