“Like most Americans, I spent the 60s, 70s, and part of the 80s in awe of Bill Cosby and his total domination of popular culture,” Beverly Johnson, the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue, writes in Vanity Fair.
Her admiration, however, quickly turned turn to fear one night in the mid-80s. Cosby, now 77, invited Johnson to his home where he allegedly gave her a drugged drink and assaulted her.
Johnson and Cosby’s interactions began when the respected comedian wanted her to audition for a role on “The Cosby Show.” Johnson, then in the middle of a custody battle and waiting for her “big break,” jumped at the chance to play even a small part.
She first attended a taping and met the cast. Cosby seemed “genuinely interested in guiding [her] to the next level. [She] was on cloud nine.” Johnson even brought her daughter to the next taping.
After a few more interactions, Cosby invited Johnson to his home to read lines for the part. After dinner that night, he strangely insisted Johnson enjoy a cappuccino from his personal machine. She tried to refuse at first, explaining caffeine kept her up at night. But Cosby persisted. “It’s nuts, I know, but it felt oddly inappropriate arguing with Bill Cosby so I took a few sips of the coffee just to appease him,” Johnson writes.
As a model in the 70s, Johnson admits she experimented with drugs. She knew what a mood-altering substance felt like. In her words (emphasis ours):
“I knew by the second sip of the drink Cosby had given me that I’d been drugged — and drugged good …. My head became woozy, my speech became slurred, and the room began to spin nonstop.“
Johnson soon felt her body go entirely limp. Switching into survival mode, she starting calling Cosby a”motherf—–.” With the drug taking a full hold, she barely remembers what happened next:
“I recall his seething anger at my tirade and then him grabbing me by my left arm hard and yanking all 110 pounds of me down a bunch of stairs as my high heels clicked and clacked on every step. I feared my neck was going to break with the force he was using to pull me down those stairs.”
At that point, Cosby allegedly dragged her outside his brownstone and “shoved” her into a cab.
Cosby’s attorney reportedly did not respond to Vanity Fairy’s requests for comment.
Johnson awoke the next day in her own apartment with no memory of how she arrived there. It took days for the drug to fully wear off, and her mind kept questioning whether her actions encouraged Cosby to try and take advantage of her.
Johnson had always wanted to confront Cosby, she writes, although she never did. Even when she started to consider going public with her story, she thought, “Black men have enough enemies out there already.”
But after Barbara Bowman told her horrific account with Cosby to the Washington Post in October and Johnson’s longtime friend and fellow model Janice Dickinson did the same, Johnson knew the time had come. In her words:
“Finally, I reached the conclusion that the current attack on African American men has absolutely nothing to do at all with Bill Cosby. He brought this on himself when he decided he had the right to have his way with who knows how many women over the last four decades. If anything, Cosby is distinguished from the majority of black men in this country because he could depend on the powers that be for support and protection.”
Many of Cosby’s accusers have said that the comedian lured them in with promises of career help and mentorship, then gave them pills to make them immobile so he could assault them. The allegations span decades — some dating back to 1969 and one as recent as 2004.
“The allegations are strung together by perceptible patterns that appear and reappear with remarkable consistency: mostly young, white women without family nearby; drugs offered as palliatives; resistance and pursuit; accusers worrying that no one would believe them; lifelong trauma,” according to a comprehensive report from the Washington Post. “There is also a pattern of intense response by Cosby’s team of attorneys and publicists, who have used the media and the courts to attack the credibility of his accusers.”
Cosby has denied the claims.
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