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Bill Cosby: sex offender? Although I have a cynical streak after a few decades of reporting on sex crimes, I still am always resistant to early drum beats of a sex scandal. “Who stands to benefit?” “Is there a pattern of behavior?” “Is there a smoking gun.”
Working backwards, we start with the ironically titled 1969 comedy record, “It’s True! It’s True!” by Bill Cosby. Now that would be just darn silly if it wasn’t for the cringe-making biographical sketch titled “Spanish Fly.”
In this ninth and last comedy record for Warner Brothers, Cosby recalls being a 13-year-old boy and learning from another street kid about the mysterious Spanish fly.
“You know anything about Spanish fly?”
“No, tell me about Spanish fly.”
“Well, there’s this girl called Crazy Mary and you put some (mumble) in her drink and she goes, ‘Uh, (unintelligible freaky noises.)’
“Oh, yeah, that’s groovy. Spanish fly is really groovy,”
“And, any time you see a girl (mumbles), oh yeah, Spanish fly.”
“You see five girls standing alone — okay, if I had a whole jug of Spanish fly I’d light up that whole corner up.”
In the sketch, Cosby fast-forwards to his life as an adult star of I Spy And the
moment he hears the greatest news:
“Bob (Robert Culp) and I are working together on I Spy and Sheldon Leonard comes up to us and says ‘I Spy is going to Spain.’ “
As the audience erupts with laughter, Cosby pauses a beat and proclaims, “A childhood dream come true!”
“I say to Bob, ‘You know what I’m gonna pick up when I get to Spain?’ Bob doesn’t know anything….”
“He says, ‘Spanish fly… There’s a girl in my neighborhood in Berkeley called Crazy Mary…’
And so they plan their trip, sing variations of “Spanish fly, Spanish fly, this is the land of Spanish fly.” They sing in the airport, on the plane, through customs. Finally, in the cab, the driver is excited to meet the two Americans and before they can ask him for Spanish fly, he asks if they have any American fly.
So, is this a smoking gun or an outdated sexist comedy sketch? Is this just a terrible co-inky-dinky that so many accusations from a variety of women match the timeframe and spirit of “Spanish Fly.”