It’s 1989, and a crowd has gathered around a mystic who claims to see into the future. All you can hear is the plastic rattle of the woman’s bracelets and beads as she gyrates her hands around a crystal ball. In a feather-boa headdress, she concentrates her attention, face contorting and eyes closed.
“Focus,” the fortune teller says, heel-clicking slippers that came with an Aladdin costume. The bulbous-necked lady scatters some glittery dirt around the ancient table, stopping halfway to pull another handful out of the purple satiny Crown Royal satchel with a gold-painted drawstring. Then suddenly, she gasps.
“I see... a spirit... He’s talking to me... He says, he has come from the future with startling news: ‘O.J. will become a murderer, Cosby... a rapist; Bruce Jenner... will become the world’s first conservative feminist... and Michael Jackson... he will turn into a frail white woman who wanders his circus-like home with chimpanzees and Macaulay Culkin.”
The room immediately bursts into laughter. Too unbelievable. Especially Cosby. America’s father --- intelligent, funny, avuncular, trustworthy. We warmly invited him into our homes. He was an inspiration for everyone, but especially for young black children who were able to see a version of themselves that had never existed on TV. The Huxtable family became an emblem of achievement. Teachers showed Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in class.
Cosby’s downfall began at a comedy show.
For years, it was an open secret in the industry that Cosby had a darker side. But, strangely, Cosby’s downfall began at a comedy show, with a joke from Hannibal Buress. “Google ‘Bill Cosby rapist,” he told the audience. “There are more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.’” You know the rest. Women stepped forward in droves.
58 of them. Their stories were terrifying. The allegations spread across decades. He denied them, but they kept mounting. Some of them were too old to take to court, but a handful were not. And as Cosby dodged lawsuits, the Cosby accusations sparked a social movement that continues to capsize every industry.
Yesterday, Bill Cosby had his day in court. Frail and slumping, he gripped whoever was beside him as he walked into the room. He faced three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby faces 10 years but will remain on bail until sentencing.
His downfall became official.
Then, as if that were not enough disgrace, Cosby got nasty. He had always prided himself as “the stand-up comedian who doesn’t curse.” He urged kids to speak well and be respectable. When District Attorney Kevin Steele asked the judge to revoke Cosby's $1 million, calling him a flight risk, Cosby stood up, pointed at Steele, and yelled, "He doesn't have a private plane, you a**hole."
He was only a character.
And, the way his face looked, full of nasty rage, was startling. How could that be the same man who made funny faces when Kids Said the Darndest Things? The same man who had been given enough honorary degrees to fill a museum? He even made an incredible jazz album. A man so wholesome that people felt good about eating pudding.
That man is gone now --- he was only a character, a disguise for a guileful monster.