Bill Cosby took the stage Thursday night for the first time since his sexual abuse allegations scandal blew up — and "America's Dad" ignored the elephant in the room.
The 77-year-old performed at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and made no mention of the headlines. The 90-minute show, part of his current tour which will bring him all over the country from now until spring, benefited a women's service organization, The Links Foundation.
Cosby wore a gray sweat suit with "Hello Friend," the name of the charity foundation started in memory of his son Ennis, on the front. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that he stuck to his stand-up routine, which included stories of growing up in the projects of Philadelphia. The venue was close to capacity and some audience members gave him a standing ovation when he finished.
Several of the audience members spoke out in support of Cosby. Scott McNeil, who was visiting the Bahamas from Ontario told NBC News, "It's about his humor for me. I don't care about his personal life. I am here to enjoy what he does on stage. What he does behind closed doors is his business."
Cosby has decided not to speak out about the women — more than five this past week in addition to the 14 from a decade ago — who have publicly accused him of various sex-related offenses (and often of drugging them as well). Instead, he has his high-powered Hollywood attorney Marty Singer, whose nickname is Mad Dog Marty, refuting the allegations on his behalf.
And the allegations continue. This week supermodel Janice Dickinson and actress-turned-journalist Joan Tarshis came forward to share their stories. Since then, at least six more — One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest actress Louisa Moritz, The Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno's wife Carla, model-actress Angela Leslie, model Renita Chaney Hill, a nurse named Therese Serignese, and a Florida woman named Linda Joy Traitz — have spoken out as well.
Moritz claims that during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1971, Cosby — who has been married to wife Camille since 1964 — visited her in the green room before the show. After telling her he was impressed with her work, he exposed himself to her, and put his penis in her mouth. Ferrigno, a former Playboy Playmate, said that after going on a double date with Cosby and his wife and one of the entertainer's friends in 1967, they went back to the star's house and, once alone, Cosby grabbed her and forcibly kissed her before she fled. (Cosby's lawyer called Ferrigno's claim "utter nonsense.") Serignese, a nurse from Boca Raton, who first met Cosby in 1976, said she was drugged and raped by him. She maintained contact with him through the years, however, and later had at least one sexual encounter with him in the 1980s. He also gave her some money when she was in a car accident in the 1990s. Leslie spoke out for the first time on Friday, saying that she was targeted after sending the comedian a letter and photograph. She said the incident took place in a Las Vegas hotel suite in 1992 when he plied her with alcohol, possibly drugged her, and forced her to fondle him. And Hill, who was a 15-year-old aspiring model when she met Cosby, claims she had a four-year relationship with him. He would kiss and touch her and, after he would give her drinks, she wouldn't wake up until the next morning and was hazy about what happened the night before. She cut ties with him at 19 — despite the fact that Cosby was paying for her college tuition.
As for Traitz, she says she was 19 when Cosby drove her to a beach, tried to give her pills to relax, and then became sexually aggressive about 40 years ago. She has a criminal record and served time in jail, which Cosby's lawyer pointed out. "Ms. Traitz is the latest example of people coming out of the woodwork with fabricated or unsubstantiated stories about my client," he told The Insider With Yahoo in a statement. Calling out her "extensive criminal record," he ended his statement with, "As the old saying goes, 'consider the source.'"
Several of Cosby's business deals have been shelved since this story blew up. NBC pulled the plug on a sitcom they were doing with the star, Netflix postponed a special, and TV Land removed The Cosby Show reruns from their lineup.
His tour, however, continues. While two performances have been canceled so far — a Nov. 28 show at the Treasure Island hotel-casino in Las Vegas and Diamond Desert Casino in Tucson, Arizona, on Feb. 15 — he otherwise has a packed schedule through next spring. In fact, Cosby will appear in Melbourne, Florida, tonight for a show... and it is sold out.