When I thought about starting this blog, I knew I would have to include some anecdotes about working with Bill Cosby, having worked him so many times over the years. I pieced three stories together, one about the first time I worked Cosby, another quite a few years later, and one that slammed the door on me ever communicating with him except what was needed in working his show. But just about the time I was going to post the finished product, Cosby’s protective wall of unique celebrity status and of course his money, began to spring a leak.
The rumor that he had been accused of doping and then raping women that had been around for years, suddenly erupted when a young black comedian, Hannibal Buress, who had a routine about Cosby always putting down young Blacks, ended it one show by screaming out, ‘you rape women’! The accusation went viral. Women came forward in public with stories about how they had been doped and raped by Cosby as far back as 1965, a year before my first story of that post occurred.
I revised my blog post, dropped the last anecdote, and replaced it with information that was coming out about the accusations. That deleted story had taken on a new meaning for me.
Cosby had changed over the years, especially after the senseless murder of his son, Ennis. The fun-loving guy backstage had become a somber man who spent as much time as possible in his dressing room. Respecting his grief, we no longer expected him to joke around with us as before.
It was between the two shows Cosby was performing at Northrop. A young woman came into the stagehands’ room and asked for me. She had Children’s’ Cancer Fund tee shirt and asked if I would take it to Cosby and have him autograph it so it could be auctioned off at the next benefit. She said it had all been set up and Cosby was expecting it.
Cosby was very good about supporting good causes. I suggested that she come with me and I would point out his dressing room, and she could go in and ask him herself.
She jumped back and said, ‘No! I was warned not to go into Mr. Cosby’s dressing room.’ She extended the shirt and marker to me and said, ‘They said you would do. Won’t you?’
‘Sure,’ I laughed and took the shirt across stage. At the time I thought that the word ‘warned’ she used seemed a bit hard. Instead of just saying I was told not to, she said she was warned. At the time, I figured somebody was afraid she might commit some kind of gaffe meeting a big time celebrity like Cosby.
I knocked and Crosby growled, ‘Come in.’
He was sprawled out on the couch watching a March Madness basketball game on TV. He turned his head, saw who it was, and turned back to the game.
I spread the shirt out on the table and laid the magic marker beside it. I told Cosby what it was for and he said he knew all about it. I didn’t really think he would sign it right at that moment, but he stood up and went to the table.
‘They told me some woman would bring the shirt in to me,’ he said as he signed his name. ‘What, she scared of me? Thinks if I get her in my dressing room, I’ll jump her bones.’
‘Oh, no,’ I answered, ‘I think… I was going to say she was just shy, but Cosby threw the shirt at me.
‘I don’t care what you think!’ He turned and went back to the couch. ‘Just get out! I want to watch the basketball game.’
‘Well, excuuuuuse me,’ I said as left the room, trying to slam the door, but it was rigged to close slowly. And even though I worked him several times after, that was the last time I ever talked to Cosby except when I really had to.
I had attributed his rudeness up to the fact things had to be getting to him. He changed over the years and for good reasons. His son’s death, his lack of a TV show, never really had movie career, his audience was getting old and his preaching about what the young people were doing wrong was not gaining him any new fans, his books were no longer best sellers, and comedy album were things of the past. He was growing old and was completing a very full week of work.
He had already done a benefit, which I worked, at the Convention Center, in midweek. He had done two shows the night before at Mystic Lake Casino, and now two shows at Northrop. He had to be tired.
Over the last few years he worked a lot of benefits, good pay, short hours, probably the hottest attraction in shadow-show business. And he knew how to play it. When he got the gig to do a benefit or an industrial expo, he contacted promoters in the town where he was to play and try to fill out with other shows in other venues. He was an easy show to sell tickets for, and the shows sold out with very little lead time and advertising.
And while I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, I was unaware of his secret reputation as a rapist. But Cosby wasn’t; and when I said the woman refused to go into his dressing room, it must have hit home. At the time I thought he was just referring to the old racist view that blacks all wanted to rape white women.
But as the rumors and accusation hit the public press, I thought back on Cosby’s anger and his words about her afraid he would ‘jump her bones’. And I remembered her using the words ‘warned not to go into his dressing room’. Who warned her, I have no idea, but somebody, maybe the promoter, might have known about the rumors and wanted to insure nothing would happen on his watch.
And this incident also happened around the time of a lawsuit against him on a dope/rape charge. He paid the woman off and it didn’t generate much negative publicity. Another case of a woman trying squeeze money out of a celebrity. After all this was Bill Cosby, not some meth-head playboy.
The first post I wrote about Bill Cosby was titled OH NO, MR. BILL!!! , giving him the slim benefit of the doubt. Now, we just found out that back in 2005, Cosby admitted in a deposition he bought drugs to use to rape women. The deposition was sealed when there was a monetary payoff made and the woman who brought suit against him was satisfied. A recent lawsuit forced that deposition to become public, and as soon as all the women named as victims who were going to testify in that suit, agree to it the entire deposition will be made public. Just the part that has been revealed already has proven that Cosby, by his own sworn words, to be a liar, a hypocrite, and someone who actually purchased drugs with the intent of using them to rape a woman..
And when all this negative publicity hit, Cosby acted like a complete fool. Many of his upcoming gigs were cancelled, but a few promoters stuck with him, and during these shows Cosby actually tried to joke about the ‘lies’ people were telling about him. He zeroed in on one accuser calling her a liar and now is being sued by her for defamation of character. This conduct caused other women to come forth and volunteer to tell their experiences with dope and rape, and Bill Cosby.
The New Jersey Supreme Court will decide if criminal charges should be brought against him for rape because there is no statute of limitations for rape in New Jersey, where one of the accusers said he raped her.
Even if he skates on criminal charges, the rest of his life will be spent in court fighting lawsuits. This pressure would be hell for anyone, let alone somebody in his late 70’s. And I can’t imagine him getting much support and sympathy from his wife of 50 years as the accusations and lawsuits pile down on him.
While this type of conduct that of a rich celebrity resorting to drugs and raping a multitude of women, surprises the majority of us, it recently was proven that it happens as in the case of Darren Sharper. Sharper, rich, handsome, intelligent, and articulate, a former NFL star and a current TV commentator, pleaded guilty in four different states to drugging women and then raping them. He is currently serving time for his actions.
Some women raped by Sharper admitted they would have been afraid to even mention it if it hadn’t been for the women coming foreword in the Cosby affair. And, I imagine the women in the Cosby affairs stand a better chance of being believed because of the confession of Sharper that proves these things do happen, even if the celebrity in question is ‘America’s favorite father’.
And that’s a wrap.