Bill Cosby Tried to Ban Janis Ian From TV for Being a Lesbian, Singer Claims

“At Seventeen” singer says scandal-plagued comedian thought she wasn’t “suitable family entertainment”

Maybe Bill Cosby can tell a lesbian when he sees one after all.

“At Seventeen” singer Janis Ian has waded into the sexual-assault scandal surrounding Cosby, saying that Cosby tried to have her banned from television because he thought she was a lesbian.

In a lengthy Facebook post sparked by a New York magazine story featuring 35 Cosby accusers, Ian offered a story this week claiming that Cosby attempted to interfere with her career when she was 16 and appearing on the Smothers Brothers’ show to sing her song “Society’s Child.”

According to Ian, exhausted from weeks of nightmares stemming from death threats over the song “Society’s Child” — which dealt with the then-taboo subject of interracial romance — the singer fell asleep in the lap of her female chaperone, described as family friend six or seven years Ian’s senior.

“She was earth motherly, I was scared. It was good to rest,” Ian recalled.

After the taping, Ian says, her manager called her and told her that nobody else was willing to have her on television, and was told that Cosby warned other shows that Ian wasn’t “suitable family entertainment” and was likely a lesbian.

Luckily, Ian wrote, Johnny Caron and his producer Freddy de Cordova refused to listen and “broke the barrier Cosby tried to create.”

Though Ian noted that, at the time, she had “barely been kissed,” she did allow in the Facebook post that Cosby was correct about her sexuality.

“Cosby was right in one thing. I am gay. Or bi, if you prefer, since I dearly loved the two men I lived with over the years,” Ian wrote. “My tilt is toward women, though, and he was right about that.”

In recent months, Cosby has been accused of rape or sexual assault by dozens of women, with a common theme being that he allegedly drugged them beforehand.

Cosby’s attorney, Martin Singer, has denied such accusations in the past.

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