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Folk Singer Janis Ian: Bill Cosby Blackballed Me From TV as a Teen

Folk Singer Janis Ian: Bill Cosby Blackballed Me From TV as a Teen

In a bizarre new twist to the ongoing Bill Cosby rape allegations, legendary folk singer Janis Ian has shared her own story of how the comedian got her "banned from TV" when she was just a teenager.

"No, I was not sexually bothered by Bill Cosby," said Ian in a Facebook post Tuesday, reacting to a New York magazine report featuring 35 women who accuse Cosby of sexual impropriety.

In her post, Ian accused Cosby of publicly outing her as a lesbian, based on a chance meeting backstage at a television show.  

"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. My tilt is toward women, though, and he was right about that."

In her post, Ian shared with fans what happened after she performed her controversial 1966 hit song "Society's Child," which details a young interracial romance, on The Smothers Brothers television show when she was 16.

She said that Cosby was also on the show's set that day, because the comedian wanted to meet her. "We met because he was curious about me," wrote Ian.

The young singer had already been touring for months by the time of the show's taping in November 1967. Because she was a minor she was accompanied on the tour by a chaperone, a female family friend who was several years older.

"Remember. I was sixteen. Still in high school. Fairly naive, including about my own sexuality," Ian wrote. "For months on the road, my chaperone was the only consistent face I saw. Everyone else was a complete stranger -- radio personalities, newspaper reporters, magazine photographers, audiences, promoters, disc jockeys, all strangers. So I clung to my chaperone."

Ian explained that the Smothers Brothers taping was an all-day affair. At one point, she had fallen asleep with her head on her chaperone's lap.

When she returned to New York, her manager told her that gossip about her being a lesbian was spreading throughout the television industry -- all thanks to Cosby.

"Cosby, seeing me asleep in the chaperone's lap, had made it his business to 'warn' other shows that I wasn't 'suitable family entertainment,' was probably a lesbian, and shouldn't be on television," Ian wrote. 

"Again, a reminder. I was 16. I'd never slept with a man, I'd never slept with a woman. Hell, I barely been kissed, and that in the middle of the summer camp sports area, next to the ping pong table."

Ian said she was basically "banned from TV," overnight, and it was only the rare and tough-minded host, such as Johnny Carson, who would have her on.

The singer included in her post her own thoughts about Cosby, calling him a "rapist" and "truly pathetic" as she recounted the allegations against him.

To read more, go to Janis Ian's Facebook page.

Below, a YouTube recording of Ian performing "Society's Child" in 1967 on The Smothers Brothers:

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