Before Bill Cosby became known as America’s Dad in the 1980s and America’s alleged serial rapist in retrospect in 2014-2015, he let us into his world a little deeper back in 1971.
No. I’m not talking about Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs, the 1972 Grammy Award winner for Best Recording For Children, released in November 1971. That same month, Cosby put out an album just for the grown-ups, unlike any of his previously Grammy-winning TV-friendly material. “For Adults Only,” from MCA Records, was Cosby’s 13th album but isn’t available now as a CD or digital download. Perhaps you can find a used cassette via Amazon.com, or if you’re curious enough, via enterprising YouTube users.
That’s where I listened to it with fresh ears today.
“Didn’t anyone tell you this is our filth show?” he asks the audience at the International Hotel (later renamed the Hilton and now simply Las Vegas Hotel & Casino) upon discovering in the first minutes that a 15-year-old boy had snuck into this midnight recording.
Cosby’s doesn’t say any of the words George Carlin would prove too illegal to tell on TV or on the radio, although the Cos does utter a few variations of Goddamn and damnit, euphemisms such as “doo doo” and “wallie wallie” and a curious bit hinging on the use of the word “titties.” But we’ll get to that in a minute.
He has plenty of jokes about gambling, losing his money at blackjack, how wives are good to have around to keep you out of financial trouble, advises against domestic violence, and early on quips innocently enough (with a heavy wink) wondering why the casino resort has a mirror over his bed. “Weird suite, though. They got a mirror over my bed,” Cosby says. “I was uneasy going to sleep, feeling the pit boss was watching me. When I sleep, I toss and turn and everything, man. I woke up in the morning like this, you know, I looked up and geez, I thought it was a naked skydiver coming at me. But it’s fun, though, when you have a mirror over your bed. You can watch yourself get in the bed. I like that. That’s cool. I’m used to it now. Every once in a while, I’ll look at myself. But I don’t know what it’s there for. I really don’t! I have no idea. It’s silly to have a mirror over your bed. You going to shave in bed? Well, what the hell you gonna watch? All I know is the way I (intentional gibberish)…get a broken neck trying to watch!” Applause break. “Camille’s virgin Catholic. I know she ain’t peeking!”
Later, in case you’re wondering how the philandering Cosby — he admitted in a deposition 34 years after this recording that he acquired drugs to give to young women not his wife that he wanted to take advantage of sexually, which is the legal way to say rape without saying rape — would deal with someone like himself conniving to have sex with Cosby’s own daughters? Well, back in 1971, he thought he was one step ahead of you.
Track 8, “Bill’s Two Daughters” opens innocently enough. Cosby muses: “Every comic you’ve ever seen says, ‘Oh, my wife can’t cook. She makes Jell-O and burns it. Hahahahaha. You’ve heard ’em all.” This is funny now because Cosby became the Jell-O spokesman in 1974, three years after this recording. But he turns the joke on himself. “But I don’t think anybody’s ever said, Have you ever thought about the husband? Because the husband is not necessarily the greatest thing walking. You understand what I’m saying?”
“I’ll tell you what happened and why it happened. I have two daughters now. OK? I come from all boys. And we did our amount of dirt, and damage. I was one of the toughest cats on the block when it came to just giving the whole deal to the woman. Lying, and cheating, and everything! I’m telling you. One of the toughest, Jack. And now I have two daughters.”
Audience laughter break.
“You understand what I mean?” Pause for more laughter.
“So the hunter has now become the hunted.” Audience laughs. “And they got to get past me to get to my daughters.” Laughs. “And ain’t nothing worse about trying to get to somebody’s daughters than when their old man was a hip ol’ swinger.” Audience laughs/claps. “Cause he knows all of the sly answers, and any guy trying to do something with my daughters is going to be in trouble! Trouble in River City. And I look at ’em and I just feel, gee whiz, soon they’re going to be hitting on ’em, and I’m beginning to hate men. Cause I know men. They’re basically filthy and nasty and dirty. I know that! See, I used to be a man before I got married.”
“So that’s the other reason why. You see. Cause of my little daughters. Little pure things. Running around. Don’t know anything yet. Course, I don’t know. Really! They’re 5 and 4. You can’t tell…You think I’m kidding? Now wait a minute…”
He then talks about how when you’re a kid and say words your parents have never heard you say before, and he uses “doo doo” as an example. Parents yell-asking where did you get that from? But with his daughters, he heightens the reference. With his four-year-old daughter at the dinner table. “Little four-year-old pulled up her dress, at the table, and said out loud: ‘SEE MY TITTIES!'” And I swear to God I tried to stop it from coming out of my mouth. I knew I was wrong. I knew the pledge I had made to myself. But I said, Where did you get that from? You don’t even have titties now. I want to know where you got it from!”
Cosby makes fun of himself for losing his cool, and explains just how badly he lost it. “And I was even worse than my mother. Next morning I went to school. I want to see the principal. What about, sir? About titties. I beg your pardon? Yes, titties. My four-year-old came home and showed me her titties. And said that’s what they were.”
The final track has his two young daughters walking into the bathroom while he’s peeing, and worrying that they’re going to say something about it. “That’s all I need them to do at school is to sing about it, ’cause here comes the teacher with the police. ‘Uh, Mr. Cosby, would you come along with us, please?’ What for? ‘For showing your kids your wallie wallie.'” This is what he gets for not explaining sex and gender to his young daughters, he thinks, but when he tries to rectify the situation, it results in a closing visual with his daughters that’s his own TV-friendly take on a dick joke.
What does he tell his daughters now?
Bill Cosby, “For Adults Only,” released in November 1971 on MCA Records
- Las Vegas/Mirror Over My Bed – 3:01
- Why Beat on Your Wife – 4:33
- Bill Cosby Fights Back – 7:29
- Be Good to Your Wives – 5:38
- Masculinity at Its Finest – 9:28
- The Cost of an Egg – 3:02
- Bill’s Two Daughters – 7:24
- Wallie, Wallie – 3:45