Allegations against Bill Cosby continued to mount yesterday with the publication of an essay by publicist Joan Tarshis, who claims that the comedian sexually assaulted her twice in 1969. That's also the year Cosby released a bit about tainting women's drinks with a substance called "Spanish Fly."
Village Voice scribe Alan Scherstuhl dug up the bit, which appears on Cosby's 1969 album It's True! It's True!.
In it, he discusses an apparently secret drug that teen boys hear about down "on the corner" called "Spanish Fly" that is "really groovy, man." As per the bit:
You know anything about Spanish fly?" "No, tell me about it."
"Well there's this girl Crazy Mary, you put some in her drink man, she, 'Huuuuuuuh.'"
"Oh yeah, that's really groovy man, Spanish fly is groovy, yeah."
From then on, any time you see a girl: "Wish I had some Spanish fly."
To be clear, Spanish Fly is not known as a date rape drug, even in urban legend. It is, however, supposed to be a powerful aphrodisiac that causes uncontrollable sexual desire in women specifically. And while a plant called Spanish Fly does exist, as with most aphrodisiacs, it's bunk — and, at worst, it could likely kill you.
So, in that sense, Cosby's description of his interest in Spanish Fly as a naive young kid could be viewed as youthful, if incredibly creepy, folly. Only, later in the recording, he describes interest in Spanish Fly during his adulthood while working on I Spy in the 60s:
So I thought it only existed in Philadelphia, you know?
And I'm working on I Spy and Bob and I are working together…Sheldon Leonard comes up and says, 'Boys, I Spy is going to Spain.'
A childhood dream come true.
I said to Bob — cause he don't know nothing about it — I say, 'Hey Bob, you know what I'm going to pick up in Spain?'
He said, 'Spanish Fly!'
Now, yes, it is a comedy bit from a comedian. But, in many ways, the "secretly drugging women" aspect of Cosby's Spanish Fly bit ominously echoes the stories of many of his accusers.
Take, for instance, Barbara Bowman's description in the Daily Mail:
Whatever drug he gave me, didn't allow me to think clearly when it was over and done with. It didn't register that I should be panicking. It was like amnesia almost. It was like what a lobotomy would do to you. I couldn't even think clearly when I was awake. I was vacant.'
Or Joan Tarshis:
In the car I had something else to drink, but was already beginning to feel a bit stoned…I had heard and/or strongly suspected I was not the only white girl he had drugged and raped but I never had any proof. No one began talking until 2004. And though I knew I should say something, I still felt ashamed. Ashamed that I didn't earlier.
Or Andrea Constand:
According to Constand, she visited Cosby at his Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, home to discuss career advice, and after allegedly (according to a civil lawsuit she would later file) giving her "herbal" pills to ease her anxiety, Cosby "touched her breasts and vaginal area, rubbed his penis against her hand, and digitally penetrated" her.
Cosby, however, now remains silent on the subject. In 1969, that wasn't exactly the case.