Photo by Michael N. Todaro/WireImage
UPDATE: Janice Dickinson told Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday (scroll to bottom for video) that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her in Lake Tahoe in 1982. Dickinson said that she wanted to describe the assault in her book but that Cosby's lawyers pressured her and Harper Collins to omit the incident and the publisher complied.
The below article was published before Dickinson's appearance on Entertainment Tonight.
Before her (reality) star-making turn as a judge on America's Next Top Model, Janice Dickinson wrote a sharp-witted and engaging memoir, No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel, about her heady days as an in-demand model in the late 70s and early 80s, when she partied hard and rubbed elbows—and other body parts—with celebrities.
The book was published by HarperCollins in 2002—two years before Bill Cosby was accused of drugging and raping former Temple University employee Andrea Constand. (When 13 additional women agreed to come forward and testify that Cosby had sexually assaulted them, too, the comedian settled with Constand out of court for an undisclosed amount in 2006.) Perhaps that's why a couple of chapters in Dickinson's book—which detail her own uncomfortable experiences with a sexually-aggressive Bill Cosby—initially went under the radar.
It starts with Cosby reaching out to the young model through her modeling agency sometime in 1981 or 1982, under the auspice that he had some ideas for television and had been following her career. This is similar to how Cosby allegedly contacted at least two other women, both models, who have accused him of sexual assault. The comedian invited Dickinson to meet him for lunch at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on Fifth Avenue, where he was staying. For some unexplained reason, Telly Savalas was also there. ("He just grinned and looked at me with those big eyes, like he wanted to ravage and murder me at the same time," Dickinson wrote.)
Cosby asked Dickinson—who would've been in her mid-20s at the time—about her acting experience and whether or not she could sing. He poised himself as being her mentor.
Both men grinned through the entire lunch. Grinned and stared and drooled. At one point I thought Savalas might ask his buddy Bill to hold me down while he had a go at me, right there on the table. But they were both unfailingly polite. And before I left Cosby asked me to do two things for him. First he wanted me to read An Actor Prepares, by Stanislavski. Next, and far more important, he wondered if I would be good enough to give him my home number [...]
I spent the following day devouring An Actor Prepares, and beginning, unfortunately, to take myself oh-so-seriously. So I was plenty prepared by the time Cosby called [...] Again he told me how beautiful I was, how powerfully I had affected him, and how much he wanted to see me again.
Cosby set Dickinson up with a musical director he knew to see if the model could sing. She couldn't. But that apparently didn't matter.
Just then Cosby arrived, smoking a big cigar. He marched over and took my hand and literally bowed and kissed it. My Black Prince!
"So," he asked Stubie, "how was she?"
"Great," Stubie said. The silly smile remained in place.
At that moment I had a small epiphany: This is why there's so much shit on TV and in the movies! Because people always lie to people in power. No one has the courage to tell them the truth!
"I'm glad to hear that," Cosby said. He stuck that big cigar in his mouth and licked it. I tried not to read too much into that cigar.
Maybe it's true that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Cosby turned to look at Stubie and said with great gravity: "Because I'm thinking about having her open for me in Vegas."
An assistant poked his head inside. "Mr. Cosby," he said. "Your wife is on the line." Cosby looked at the assistant as if he wanted to kill him. This was no time to be bothered with the fact that he was married. He turned and took both my hands in his, smiled sweetly, said he'd call me later. Then went off to deal with his wife.
Dickinson continued to work with the musical director until she was booked for a debut performance of her pop single at Studio 54 in early 1982. It was a disastrous event. She got wasted and forgot the words. After an intervention from her friends and family she entered rehab a few days later. Cosby sent her roses and a card while she was there.
When Dickinson left treatment, her agent called her to let her know that Bill Cosby was looking for her and had left a number in Lake Tahoe saying it was "really, really important" that she call him. So she did.
"Well, get your ass to Tahoe," he said. "You can connect through L.A."
"Why? What's in Tahoe?"
"I'm doing a show here. I want you to open for me."
I thought he must be kidding. I'd bombed at Studio 54. "I can't sing," I said.
"You're wrong," he said. "Who hits a home run their first time out? Almost nobody."
Dickinson hopped on a flight to Lake Tahoe as instructed. She immediately relapsed and began drinking on the plane. By the time she arrived at the hotel she was drunk.
Cosby answered the door in nothing but a white towel. He was fresh from the shower, too; his black skin was glistening. He hugged me, a little too enthusiastically; told me how much he'd missed me, and how nice it was to see me. I believed him. Liquor does that to a girl.
"God, you're beautiful."
He kissed me, full on the lips, then went off to dress and we went downstairs, to dinner, where Cosby spent the next two hours talking about himself. It was An Evening with Bill Cosby. A Tribute to Bill Cosby.
And suddenly I remembered something Andy Warhol once told me. It was his definition of an actor. He said, "An actor is a person whose eyes glaze over when the conversation is no longer about them."
And I thought, Well, then, Bill Cosby is an actor's actor.
After dinner he asked me back to his room, and I went. But I stopped myself at the door. "I'm exhausted," I said, begging off. His eyebrows went a little funny.
"Exhausted?" he asked, and it was clear he was trying hard to keep his temper in check. "After all I've done for you, that's what I get? I'm exhausted."
"Well, gee, Bill," I stammered. "If I had known it was going to be like this—"
He waved both hands in front of my face, silencing me. Then he gave me the dirtiest, meanest look in the world, stepped into his suite, and slammed the door in my face.
Perhaps Cosby figured that a young model with a very obvious substance abuse issue, fresh out of rehab, would be more malleable. But maybe Dickinson was already too established as a celebrity in her own right for Cosby to risk pushing the boundary beyond manipulation into physical aggression.
In 2006, while promoting her third book, Check Please! Dating, Mating and Extricating, Dickinson stuck to her story when she told Howard Stern that Cosby is "a bad guy" who preys on vulnerable women.