Bill Cosby performs at the King Center for the Performing Arts, in Melbourne, Florida on Nov. 21.
Image: Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
By Brian Anthony Hernandez and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
MELBOURNE, Florida — Bill Cosby lay on his back onstage, vividly recounting when he had farted inside his bedroom while showing his wife an exercise move.The comedian’s jovial mood stood in stark contrast to the recent dark headlines — dominated by rape allegations — casting a shadow on his life and long-standing career.
Joke after joke, the audience filled the air with laughter inside the King Center for the Performing Arts at Friday night’s comedy show. “We love you, Bill Cosby,” one woman yelled, while several men slowly but surely raised their fists in the air on Cosby’s command.
All seemed normal for 77-year-old Cosby, whose many audience members at the show, primarily parents and grandparents, grew up watching him as fun-loving father Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show, and then again in syndication.
Cosby, wearing a “HELLO FRIEND” sweatshirt representing a charity named after his murdered son Ennis, described himself as a “mature husband, father and grandfather,” one who has “slowly marinated into a man who does what he’s told.” Then, he doled out advice to male attendees about how to interact with women, and handle marital situations.
Former Bill Cosby ‘fixer’ comes out with new allegations
Offstage, Cosby has remained largely tight-lipped, refusing to talk about the growing number of sexual assault allegations against him. Cosby told Florida Today about his silence.
“I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos,”
“I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t have to answer to innuendos,” he said this weekend. “People should fact check. People shouldn’t have to go through that, and shouldn’t answer to innuendos.”Flash-forward to Sunday morning: A former NBC employee and friend of Cosby who acted as his so-called “fixer” for years, alleged that the comedian paid several women off after he had slept with them. Frank Scotti told the New York Daily News that he helped Cosby pay several thousands of dollars to eight women at the end of the 1980s.
“He had everybody fooled,” Scotti said. “Nobody suspected.”
He provided the Daily News with copies of money orders Cosby sent to the women.”I did a lot of crazy things for him,” Scotti said. “He was covering himself by having my name on it. It was a coverup. I realized it later.”
Also this weekend, five of the 16 women who have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault gave detailed and explosive interviews to The Washington Post; they include a former Playboy playmate who until now has never spoken about her alleged experience with Cosby. The women told stories of several sexual assaults, often preceded by Cosby allegedly offering them drug pills.
“[Cosby] came over to me and sat down on the love seat and opened his fly and grabbed my head and pushed my head down,”
“[Cosby] came over to me and sat down on the love seat and opened his fly and grabbed my head and pushed my head down,” former playmate Victoria Valentino said. “And then he turned me over. It was like a waking nightmare.”Cosby has long faced accusations of sexual assault, although he has never been charged.
Some of these allegations resurfaced recently after comedian Hannibal Buress told the audience at his show to Google “Bill Cosby rapist.” The video of his performance went viral, and put the allegations back in the spotlight.
Cosby’s attorney Martin Singer reacted to these new reports with more denials.
“What evidence does [Scotti] have of Mr. Cosby’s involvement?” Singer told the Daily News. “How would Scotti know if a woman was a model or a secretary? It appears that his story is pure speculation, so that he can get his 15 minutes of fame.”
On Friday, Singer unleashed a lengthy statement addressing the allegations.
“The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40, or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity,” he said.
“These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous,”
“These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous,” Singer added, “and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”Singer blamed journalists for not corroborating claims.
“Over and over again, we have refuted these new unsubstantiated stories with documentary evidence, only to have a new uncorroborated story crop up out of the woodwork,” he said. “When will it end? It’s long past time for this media vilification of Mr. Cosby to stop.”
Cosby didn’t address the allegations during his 90-minute show on Friday.
Local laughter upsets online observers
Far away from the heavy security and local police guarding King Center’s every exit, disgusted Twitter users threw verbal jabs at the crowd and tossed digital tomatoes at Cosby.
disgusted Twitter users threw verbal jabs at the crowd and tossed digital tomatoes at Cosby.As Mashable‘s associate entertainment editor Brian Anthony Hernandez live-tweeted the event, including the night’s two standing ovations, the outrage intensified, with many online observers reacting unfavorably to what was happening at Cosby’s Friday show. The laughter didn’t sit well with them, and the general consensus from critics was that this moment in Cosby’s life was no laughing matter.
Some heckling had been anticipated, but none occurred during the show, which makes sense considering residents shelled out cash to attend. Only two protestors expressed their frustration outside King Center before the performance started. One held a sign emblazoned with, “RAPE IS NO JOKE.” The venue had been criticized by some for not canceling Cosby’s appearance like other venues across the United States had this week.
What’s next for Bill Cosby?
Cosby’s TV career looks dimmer than his touring one, as networks have already begun distancing themselves. TVLand pulled reruns of The Cosby Show, NBC halted development on of a Cosby sitcom, and Netflix postponed a comedy program.
Friday’s performance was Cosby’s opening show on his stateside comedy tour. He has more than two dozen scheduled shows left, though more might get canceled.
Several local residents Mashable interviewed before and after Friday’s show said they “felt sorry” for Cosby, and wondered why some of his accusers waited so long to come forward.
“It’s a mystery why people would wait until now,” said Rob Tinsley, 58, whose brother turned down a ticket over the sexual assault allegations against Cosby. “It’s going to put a different twist on his shows and reactions are going to be more subdued.”
“A great entertainer can block out everything. It’s sad to hear what’s happening, but tonight he was clean and family-oriented.”
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