Monday, November 24, 2014
|Model Photo at Age 19|
A lot of people have been asking me if I think Bill Cosby is guilty of sexual assault and rape now that sixteen or so women have come forward to claim he forced sex on them in one way or the other. Let me say right here that I don’t know if Bill Cosby committed a crime or he was just behaving like some of the men I encountered during my year in Hollywood; aggressive, entitled, and rather repulsive.
The casting couch was alive and well during the year of 1973 when I did the rounds in Hollywood attempting to get modeling and acting gigs. Managers, photographers, and actors of the male persuasion certainly put the moves on me promising me gigs and stardom if I just gave up a little somethin’ somethin’. I remember quite a number of approaches. One day I went to a casting director over at Universal Studios for Police Story and he told me he loved my portfolio. Headshot photo in hand, he asked me to dinner. When I told him I had other plans, he threw it back across the desk at me and told me, mockingly, to call him again when I got in the union. Another time I had this manager take me to Richard Dreyfuss’s house. I don’t remember the actor being there but I do remember a dish of pills being passed around. The manager encouraged me to pick a color. I declined. He then told me he could take me to Las Vegas with him while he did some business there. I declined. He didn’t take me on as a client. I can remember some other times when my go-see included a man simply dropping his trousers or whipping it out and encouraging me to have a go at it. Yeah, the casting couch was and is a huge problem and I can tell you, I ran into very few girls who said no because those who did often got nowhere in the business. I promised myself I would never succumb to the casting couch and I kept that promise; I failed dismally at getting any work other than extra work.
I am not saying that truly talented women and men can never climb the career ladder in Hollywood without getting on their knees, backs, or stomachs but I can confidently say that a good portion of wannabee actors and models just go with the program and hope it does them some good.
So, can I see Bill Cosby acting in a disgraceful manner and aggressively seeking sex with young vulnerable women wanting to break into Hollywood? Absolutely. Most of the stories the women tell sound more like the casting couch than rape scenarios but that some might have been taken advantage of while heavily under the influence of drugs that Bill might have given them when a sexual act occurred…yeah, possible.
The problem, as always with the reporting of crimes delayed by weeks, months or years and especially when reported in the media rather than to law enforcement is that it is impossible to really know if a criminal act occurred, or for that matter, if even sleazy behavior occurred. Even though a person, like Cosby, with a position of power can certainly cause young person to succumb to sexual pressure either because they are starstruck or desirous of fame or fortune, it still isn’t a crime unless there was force involved. One could call it sexual harassment but the fact most of these claims are outside of professional employment situations means it is a matter between two people. And, when a man reaches such a high level of visibility, it is easy for him to become a target of claims that can’t be proven but can ruin one’s reputation. I have had many lies told about me and I can’t do much about them because once they are out on the Internet and being repeated, denial often doesn’t make a difference. So I don’t know exactly who is being despicable in this situation.
I made the decision at age 19 not to go the casting couch route. I could just have easily decided to use it to my advantage to get work. In reality, this is another version of prostitution and if one want to sell one’s body to make money or advance one’s career than one must accept that one is choosing to do so and the responsiblity for the act lies on both sides. Is it fair that the casting couch is, for a good many people, a necessity to get work in Hollywood? No, and I would like to see it eliminated. But, for now, it is still a reality and we all know that those in power sometimes demand sex in return for favors and those not in power may offer sex in order to get favors.
Sometimes standing up to those in power means losing money and opportunity. I didn’t make it in Hollywood at age 19 because I chose not to go the casting couch route (and I probably wasn’t all that talented, either) and I lost my job as a professor with Excelsior College because I chose not to allow plagiarism and I refused to participate in grade inflation. I have lost a good portion of my television work because I won’t speak on mass murder. That is how life goes. I am sure many readers here have lost opportunities because they said no to sex, or lying, or cheating, or racism, or elitism, or whatever less-than-ethical action their boss or company required of them. And hurrah for them.
So, is Bill Cosby guilty of what these women claim? I don’t know. All I know is he is still funny and I still love The Bill Cosby Show. And I still think Michael Jackson can dance.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
November 24, 2014