Sunday, June 16, 2024

Bill Cosby

September 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Cover Story, Feature

‘We have to get back to speaking strongly’



Comedy legend Bill Cosby will perform live at the Treasure Island Hotel on Sept. 26, bringing Las Vegas audiences his signature brand of universally-relatable, family-friendly humor. Renowned for his television masterpieces (“The Cosby Show,” “Fat Albert”) and celebrating the release of a new concert DVD (“Far From Finished”), and new Netflix show called, Bill Cosby 77, released November 28, the wise entertainer sat with Las Vegas Black Image for an exclusive interview.

What can your Treasure Island Hotel audience expect from your September 26 show?

Like always, the theme for my show is to have people laugh, smile and feel that they are having a wonderful time. Also, my show will make you think, “Wait a minute…that happened to me!” Or, “How did he get into my house and how does he know my children and my husband?”

How has Las Vegas changed since the days you first started to perform here?

First of all, there are no more dinner shows at the hotels on the Strip. There used to be an 8 p.m. show, along with a dinner, and you would get three drinks. But Vegas hit an economic bump and changes happened. Within the hotel properties, each department changed from enhancing other areas of the hotel to becoming solely responsible for its own operational activities. For example, the gaming side stopped picking up the tabs in the restaurants for people who would gamble. There were no more free rooms and free extras for the stars that performed at the hotels. Currently, you have the buffets, more slot machines and the “show” shows. I remember when the Hilton Hotel cut out star performances because of the bad economy and the threat of business being taken away by Atlantic City gaming. The most amazing thing that always seems to happen to Las Vegas is the general theory that 87% of the Vegas power brokers believing something not being able to work in the general norm. For example, when they built the International Hotel before it became the International Hilton, people said, “No one will travel all the way over there off the Strip to go to the hotel.” But they did. The hotel brought in Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand and me into their showroom that held 2,000 people. Then this brilliant fellow named Steve Wynn, who owned the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas, decided to build something called the Mirage Hotel. [Then], 88.6% of the people said he was crazy. They would say, “He will be broke and the investors will go broke also.” Wrong again. The city? As far as I am concerned, and I am only familiar with the Treasure Island Hotel where I work, I couldn’t find friendlier people. But, I also performed at the Hilton Hotel and I found family there. People your father, Bob Bailey, knew—such as Preacher Wells, Horace and his family —who worked in various departments as security and dealers were wonderful. Things have changed, but not in their hospitality attitudes.


What are you most concerned about in Las Vegas?

I am concerned that Las Vegas is a place that really should have a better public school system for the economically challenged children. The community should stand together, march and demonstrate to [show] local politicians [that they want] a better public school system that produces positive results. Stop voting for the same people if there are no positive results for the children. Children deserve to be pushed and challenged for a better education. The children have to be inspired to know that they can learn and be competitive. Andre Agassi needs to be in Las Vegas Black Image Magazine, and celebrated, because of his charter Andre Agassi Academy and all that he has done in the world of tennis. His father was a maître d’ and I don’t think he was born in this country. Andre is a tennis hall-of-famer and has a charter school. Look at the overwhelming number of African-American children accepted into his school. … The first thing that Nevada’s legislature needs to stop and examine is how many things have been voted on in the past 40 years, where they held education up as a shield to protect them while they went about something else. It is an epidemic if you don’t have a high school diploma. Who will hire you? If you have your own language—who will know what you are talking about? I am also concerned about the drugs in the community. That is another epidemic and community members need to take back their communities, designate them as drug-free areas and place signs in the community.


What are your thoughts on what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri?

It is horrible, and I think that the demonstrations need to be handled in a way so that the media doesn’t … start talking about the looting and those who are breaking the law. We have to get back to speaking strongly about this man. The lawyers are going to go in, and we let people know we are not standing for any foolishness. When people are looting and breaking into businesses, this changes things—and gives people a reason to talk about something else. We have to be known as a people that don’t stand for that foolishness. And also I mean in our own communities, where we are also killing each other.

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