Time was, this country responded to rape accusations against America’s Sweater Dad, Bill Cosby, the same way Cosby’s Noah did to God’s command that he put two of each animal onto a boat: by saying, “Riiiiiiiiiiigghhhht” and then moving on.
Today, though, the testimonials against Cosby keep coming, and the man himself is canceling public appearances, stonewalling a clearly shaken Scott Simon of NPR, and finally responding with a public statement (sent through his lawyer) that has right on its surface one immediately verifiable lie: “At age 77, he is doing his best work.”
Cosby’s dozen-plus accusers tell similar stories: that, after having a drink with Cosby, they felt drugged and confused as he had his way with them. Curiously, Cosby himself once made such scenarios the center of a stand-up routine: Witness “Spanish Fly,” a cut from his now-unfortunately titled 1969 LP It’s True! It’s True!.
In it, Cosby describes being a kid and hearing about a wonder drug — “Spanish Fly” — that would make a girl go crazy once it was put into her drink. He presents this as a horny/goofy lark of an idea, a myth that kids buy into all over the world. More disturbingly, Cosby then describes his adult interest in such a drug, especially on a trip he took to Spain with Robert Culp of I Spy — both Culp and Cosby, he claims, were desperate to get their hands on some Spanish Fly.
Even when I heard this bit as a kid, I wondered: Why would famous TV stars need a drug to get women interested in them? Why is sex something to lie and cheat and scheme to get, rather than something to share? Hearing it now, it’s positively chilling, especially the crowd’s easy laughter, which suggests that Cosby was able to put over his fantasy of women stripped of their ability to say no as something near universal. Boys will be boys, hahaha, and then refuse ever to speak of it once they become rich and powerful men.
By Alan Scherstuhl