Dr. Bill Cosby’s accusers and their supporters have repeatedly pointed to several references he made to something called Spanish fly as evidence or proof that he committed the horrific things they accuse him of doing. This article will examine these claims. Should they be taken seriously or are they absurd, irrational and malicious suspicions and assertions?
First, we will give a general introduction to the case against Dr. Cosby. Then we will discuss the categorical mistake of using statements from comedy routines as evidence. Next, we shall examine the original article that made numerous assertions based on a track from a 1969 comedy album. Thirdly, we’ll examine a short doctored clip of a Bill Cosby interview from a talk show that has been shown repeatedly on the internet to attack Dr. Cosby. Fourthly, we’ll examine how former-model Janice Dickinson and her lawyer Lisa Bloom (daughter of lawyer Gloria Allred) used such false allegations as evidence in her defamation legal case against Dr. Cosby. After a short summary, we shall give 120 examples of comical references to the aphrodisiac “Spanish Fly” going back 250 years to Benjamin Franklin. This should clearly demonstrate that comedy involving Spanish fly is widespread and a perfectly normal and typical subject for a comedian.
Before November, 2014, there was very little association between Spanish fly, date-rape drugs and rape. Neither was there any serious connection of Bill Cosby and Spanish fly, except perhaps for it being one of hundreds of comedy routines he had done in his early career.
In 2005, a former friend, director of operations for women’s basketball at Temple University, Andrea Constand, age 31, accused Dr. Cosby, age 67, of giving her an unknown drug. She claimed to have a fuzzy memory of her breast being touched and Cosby putting her hand on his penis. This had happened on one occasion a year earlier. When her charge was rejected after a month long police investigation, she filed a lawsuit and some 12 or 13 other people signed up to help her with her lawsuit by also making drugging and sexual assault claims against Dr. Cosby. These accusers claimed that they had been drugged and assaulted 20, 30, or 40 years earlier. He settled the legal case with Constand in 2006. Between 2006 and 2014, there were no new accusations or accusers against Dr. Cosby. In 2014, with the encouragement and support of the mass media, and after a practically unknown comedian did a two minute comedy routine in which he jokingly called Dr. Cosby a rapist, some 40 new accusers came out in the next six months. Most of these accusers came out publicly after attorney Gloria Allred announced on Dec. 11, 2014 that she was seeking $100 million for all “the victims” of Dr. Cosby. Many were presented to the mass media by attorney Allred in a series of press conferences. Most, former models and actresses, cried as they told their horrific stories involving drugs and sex with Dr. Cosby. None were either able or felt they needed to present any witnesses or evidence that any of their criminal allegations were true.
Before 2005, despite Dr. Cosby being 66 years old, and having worked with thousands of people and being seen by millions of people at live concerts for over 40 years, he had never been associated with drug use. Nobody ever reported to anybody that Dr. Cosby had any involvement with drugs. The original 2005 accusers and the second wave 2014-2015 accusers presented no actual evidence of anybody ever associating Dr. Cosby with drugs, either using, possessing or giving them to anyone before 2005. Having no real evidence, supporters of the accusers and the accusers themselves, portrayed a comedy routine about an imaginary aphrodisiac called Spanish fly as evidence that Dr. Cosby was interested in the subject of drugging women. Starting in December, 2014, numerous articles on numerous websites associated Dr. Cosby with Spanish fly, and associated Spanish fly with date-rape drugs and rape
The Categorical Mistake of taking Comedy as Evidence
The comedy routine “Who’s on First” by Lou Abbott and Bud Costello was voted the greatest comedy routine of the 20th century by Time magazine in 1999. The names of twelve supposedly contemporary baseball players are given in the routine, Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean, Goofe Dean, Who, What, I Don’t Know, Why, Because, Tomorrow, Today, and I Don’t Give a Damn. Only the first two names are real names of contemporary baseball players. The only nine are fictional, despite the routine’s claim that they are nicknames of real baseball players. This shows that while some information in a comedy routine may be accurate, it may also be inaccurate. Other sources have to be consulted to really affirm any historical or biographical information in a comedy routine.
Comedy routines are simply a series of jokes. Jokes are not told to give historical or biographical information. They are told to be funny and make people laugh. When someone says, “A priest, a rabbi, and an Iman all went into a bar,” no rational person actually believes the following story is a report on something that actually took place.
This joke by comedian Rodney Dangerfield was quoted in his 2004 N.Y. Times obituary: “When I was a kid, I got no respect. The time I was kidnapped, and the kidnappers sent my parents a note, they said, ‘We want $5,000 or you’ll see your kid again.’ “It would be absurd to suggest that Dangerfield was actually kidnapped as a child based on this joke, or that the kidnappers offered to hold him for $5,000, but would return him if they did not pay.
Jack Benny was one of the most famous comedians in America from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. He always portrayed himself as cheap, although, there are numerous testimonials to his generosity throughout his life. His most famous cheap joke was first aired on his Jack Benny Program on radio on March 28, 1948:
Mugger: Hey Bud, got a match.
Jack: Match, yes, I have one right here.
Mugger: Don’t make a move. This is a stick-up.
Mugger: You heard me.
Jack: Stick-up, stick-up. Put down that gun.
Mugger: Shut-up. Now, come on your money or your life.[six second pause – laughter]. Look, Bud, I said your money or your life.
Jack: I’m thinking it over. [laughter]
No rational personal could take this as evidence that Jack Benny was ever robbed in this way. Nor could any rational person take this as evidence that Jack Benny was so cheap that he would hesitate to turn over his money rather than be shot.
Yet, the accusers and their supporters in the mass media have taken comedy routines, jokes, as serious evidence over and over again. On Feb. 26, about a week after the police dismissed charges brought by Andrea Constand against Cosby, Dr. Cosby made a small impromptu joke about the nature of the dismissed charges against him during a concert. The dismissal of charges against him had made major headlines throughout the country. Two weeks later, Philly.com published this report:
A little over a week after being cleared of doping and groping a former Temple University women’s basketball executive, Bill Cosby joked during a performance at the State Theater in New Brunswick, N.J., about whether he had slipped drugs into a woman’s drink.
“He brought this woman up from the audience,” said Stuart Zakim, a spokesman for the National Enquirer, who happened to be in the audience for the Feb. 26 show. “He said, ‘Before I get started, let me ask you: Did I put anything into your drink? She said, ‘No. ‘ “
She was laughing and the audience went wild.
This report was copied by many other tabloid websites suggesting falsely that Cosby had joked about drugging and sexually assaulting women. The joke is about “not drugging” women. It is about the absurdity of the idea that the mass media had given so much coverage to the nonsensical idea that he has drugged women and that several women had become famous overnight by accusing him of drugging them. It was a joke that Cosby had now to be afraid of women falsely accusing him of drugging them to gain money and fame.
On Oct. 17, 2014, Phillymag.com published an article with the headline “Hannibal Buress on Bill Cosby: You’re a Rapist”.
Hannibal Buress was a virtually unknown comedian at this time. The headline does not indicate that this was said in a comedy routine. This is confusing a comedy routine with a real charge and designed to spread the idea that some important person was seriously accusing Cosby of rape. The video and ideas in the article was picked up again by numerous websites that did not distinguish between this being a real charge and a comedy routine.
The First Village Voice Article on the 1969 Spanish Fly Routine
The First Article Connecting Dr. Cosby to Spanish Fly and Spanish Fly to drugs and rape appears to have been written by Alan Scherstuhl and published by the Village Voice on November 17, 2014. It is entitled Here’s the 1969 Bill Cosby Routine About Wanting to Drug Women’s Drinks.
A Slate.com article by Elliot Hannon, also dated November 17, 2014, gives the Village Voice article credit for the discovery (from http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/11/17/bill_cosby_s_spanish_fly_routine_jokes_about_drugging_women.html?wpsrc=fol_fb):
The Village Voice, however, has unearthed an old Cosby stand-up routine on the topic that is particularly unsettling. Cosby’s “Spanish Fly” routine, from what the Voice appropriately describes as his “now-unfortunately titled 1969 LP It’s True! It’s True!,” is a riff on lacing young women’s drinks with the aphrodisiac known as Spanish Fly. While slipping anything into anyone’s drink is not usually considered funny, that it’s Cosby doing the joking is particularly disturbing.
The short Village Voice article is false and misleading in at least five ways. First is the title which misrepresents the routine. Second is the statement of the case against Dr. Cosby which is factually misstated. Third, it takes obviously comical statements about Dr. Cosby and Robert Culp as factual information. Fourth it raises a good question, why Cosby needed to drug Cosby, but doesn’t even think to answer it. Fifth, it draws a conclusion which assumes guilt instead of proving it.
1.) The title of the article is malicious and false. The routine is not about wanting to drug women’s drinks. It is about the desire of males to be desired by females and the ridiculous ideas and behavior it causes in men. It would be more correct to say that Bill Cosby’s routine is about the desire of all men to turn women on through giving them a magic drug called Spanish fly. This would be less dishonest, but still not true. While Spanish Fly is mentioned 16 times in the routine, the word “drug” is never mentioned. Spanish fly is never identified as being a drug, nor is the desire of giving it to women described as an act of drugging.
Here is a transcript of the routine.
When I was 13, man. Start talking about weird things. No, really.
Standing on the corner: You know anything about Spanish Fly. What? Spanish Fly. It always happens when you’re 13, only when you’re 13 on up to when, like, you get married. Guys stand around talking about Spanish Fly.
And it never starts with one of the guys on the corner. It’s always some strange 13-year-old says, you know what? You know anything about Spanish fly? No, tell me about it. Well, there’s this girl crazy Mary. You put some in her drink, man, and she be ‘Aggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!’ Yeah, Spanish oh yeah, that’s really groovy, man, Spanish Fly groovy yeah, boy.
From then on, man, any time you see a girl: “Wish I had some Spanish fly, boy.”
Go to a party, see five girls standing alone: “Boy if I had a whole jug of Spanish fly, I’d light that corner up over there. HAAAAAAAH.”
So I thought it only existed in Philadelphia, you know?
And I’m working on I Spy and Bob and I are working together…Sheldon Leonard comes up and says, ‘Boys, I Spy is going to Spain.’ A childhood dream come true. [Applause]
I said to Bob – you know – cause he don’t know nothing about it — I say, ‘Hey Bob, you know what I’m going to pick up when I’m in Spain?’
He said, ‘Spanish Fly!’ [Laughs & Applause]
I say wait a minute, man, how did you know about it?
He said, are you kidding. There’s a girl in my neighborhood in Berkeley called Crazy Mary we gave her some… [mumbles]
Every-time he told me a story I had heard it. Every-time I told him a story he had heard it. We all knew the same story so I figured there’s gotta be a guy about two thousand years old that looks thirteen, going around around the world.
You guys know anything about about Spanish Fly? [Applause]
(inaudible), man. What you just (inaudible) What you…’Spanish fly’ ‘Spanish fly’. And we’re ridin’ on the plane: ‘Spanish fly’
And we’re gettin’ in and goin’ through customs: ‘This is the land of Spanish fly…la la la…la la la…Spanish fly.’ ‘Spanish fly’
We’re getting in the cab, riding, driver. Bob says, ‘ask this guy if he knows where we can get some Spanish Fly.
I said: You don’t ask a cab driver.
No. Ask the cab driver, he may know, man.
Driver! Sí Señor! Listen, you Spanish? Sí Señor! You American? Yes. You come from America? Yes. You can tell me maybe you brought with you some American Fly. [Applause & Laughs]
Again, note there are 16 mentions of the word “Spanish fly,” and zero mentions of the words “drug” or “drugging.” There is no description of Spanish fly being a drug or of anybody being drugged in the 2 minute and 55 second routine. For all the characters in the story know, Spanish fly could be the equivalent of Spanish orange juice. The only character who drinks Spanish fly in a drink is Crazy Mary in the line, “Well, there’s this girl crazy Mary. You put some in her drink, man, and she be ‘Aggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!’”
It is the stranger that suggests this. He does not say what Spanish fly is, only that Crazy Mary goes “aggghhhhhhhhhh” after it is added to her drink. It could be that Crazy Mary is called crazy in the story because she enjoys Spanish fly and will only date you, if you offer to buy Spanish fly and put it in her drink. This could have earned her the title of “crazy.” Note that Cosby’s adult friend, Robert Culp, who grew up in California and not Philadelphia as Cosby did, also has heard of Crazy Mary. This indicates that she is an imaginary character, just as Spanish fly is an imaginary substance in the routine. Cosby is imagining an imaginary substance being given to an imaginary woman. Crazy Mary may be referencing a type of women who enjoys having sex after having a specific type of mixed drink. The routine is really about boys and men mistaking the imaginary for the real. It is not at all about drugging women’s drink. It is about how we imagine desire and how far that is from reality. The comedy comes from the distance between children’s imagination and reality.
The characters in the story do not know what Spanish fly is, only its effects as an aphrodisiac. Spanish fly may be like lemon or lime that you add to a drink to improve the taste. To say that this is about drugging women’s drinks is to imagine that every additive to a drink is a drug. Many people like a drink called a “screwdriver” made with orange juice and vodka. Spanish fly may be Spanish orange juice, something you add to vodka to make people enjoy the taste better and get happy faster and easier. Would we call a story about a man wanting to add orange juice to a drink to make screwdrivers, a story about drugging women’s drinks?
Calling the story about wanting to drug women’s drinks is like taking a speech where President Obama calls for the destruction of Isil or Al Qaeda, and entitling it, “President Calls for Destruction of Muslims. Technically it has some slight degree of truth in it, (he calls for the destruction of a certain group of Muslims), but in general it is false, misleading and disingenuous. The same is true about the headline to this article. It is propagating the idea that this comedy routine was about drugging women instead of about myths and sexual misinformation.
2) The article connects the accusations against Dr. Cosby with the album routine this way: “Cosby’s dozen-plus accusers tell similar stories: that, after having a drink with Cosby, they felt drugged and confused as he had his way with them. Curiously, Cosby himself once made such scenarios the center of a stand-up routine…”
Is it true that Cosby’s dozen plus accusers tell similar stories? In fact, at the time the article came out, November 17, 2014, there was six public accusations and they told wildly dissimilar stories. The stories were only liked by the subject matter of drugging and sexual assault.
Andrea Constand was a friend for one and half years and went to Cosby’s house to talk about how stressed she was about her job. She claims she asked him for some medicine. She claims he gave her three blue pills and she felt “dizzy and sick.”. Lawyer Tamara Green said she had just met and started working for Cosby. She had the flu when she met with Cosby and a number of other people in the afternoon at a restaurant. He gave her two pills that looked like contact (she said “red and white,” although Contact was red and clear). She said, “In about, I don’t know, 20 to 30 minutes I felt great and then about 10 minutes after that I was almost literally face down on the table of this restaurant.” Shawn Upshaw Thompson said in a National Enquirer article of Feb 14th, 2005, she visited him at a rented mansion in Beverly Hills: “He fixed me a drink that looked strange to me – there were several layers of color to it…I immediately felt very out of sorts. I knew I had been heavily drugged and feeling faint…I woke up in the morning knowing I’d had sex during my sleep. “ Barbara Ferrier claimed she was Cosby’s lover for several months, and blacked out after drinking a cappuccino before a Bill Cosby concert in Denver, Colorado, and woke up five or six hours later in her car. Ferrier’s co-model, Barbara Bowman claims Cosby assaulted her without drugs in a hotel in Reno. A month later, in Cosby’s Manhattan townhouse she claims he gave her a glass of red wine. She said “the next thing I know, I’m sick and I’m nauseous and I’m delusional and I’m limp and … I can’t think straight…. And I just came to, and I’m wearing a [men’s] T-shirt that wasn’t mine, and he was in a white robe.“Finally, the sixth accuser, Joan Tarshis says, she was given “a red eye, a bloody mary topped off with beer,” in a cottage near the set of the Bill Cosby Show. She continues, “And then next thing I know, I was being undressed on his couch. I was so out of it.” Asked if she was conscious the whole time, she answered, “Yes. He was holding me down. He’s much bigger than I am. He’s very big. I couldn’t resist. He was forceful. He definitely used force.” She claims she went to see his show on Westbury, Long Island a month later. “I had something to drink in the car. I don’t remember what it was. I started to feel very woozy. Stoned… I couldn’t focus my eyes. It was hard to talk. I have no idea what happened that night, other than that I woke up naked in his bed (at a New York Hotel).
Thus we have six accusers reporting eight different types of sexual assaults, all in different locations. The drugs were different in all eight cases: 1) three blue pills, 2) two Contac red and white pills, 3) a drink with three layers of color, 4) a cappuccino, 5) no drug, 6) a red glass of wine, 7) a red eye, 8) a bloody mary topped with beer, and 8) a drink, “I don’t remember what it was.” Thus the six accusers give accounts of taking eight different drugs or drinks and describe eight different reactions at eight different locations. How does the author of the Village Voice article characterize these six accusers’ stories? He writes ” Cosby’s dozen-plus accusers tell similar stories: that, after having a drink with Cosby, they felt drugged and confused as he had his way with them.” He ignores the facts and falsifies all the differences by claiming that they are similar.
3) The article describes the first part of the monologue this way — “In it, Cosby describes being a kid and hearing about a wonder drug — “Spanish Fly” — that would make a girl go crazy once it was put into her drink. He presents this as a horny/goofy lark of an idea, a myth that kids buy into all over the world.”
This is correct. Cosby describes what Spanish fly meant to him and many others growing up in the 1950’s.
The article continues – “More disturbingly, Cosby then describes his adult interest in such a drug, especially on a trip he took to Spain with Robert Culp of I Spy — both Culp and Cosby, he claims, were desperate to get their hands on some Spanish Fly.”
Here, Scherstuhl misses the humor. Obviously Robert Culp and Bill Cosby did not go looking for Spanish fly when they went to Spain. They were both married adults by this time and knew that Spanish fly was a myth. Cosby is using self-deprecating humor here. He is setting up the brilliant punchline, where the cab driver asks them for some American-fly. It shows once again the point that Cosby is trying to make that men are misinformed all over the world on sex and women.
4) Scherstuhl continues, “Even when I heard this bit as a kid, I wondered: Why would famous TV stars need a drug to get women interested in them? Why is sex something to lie and cheat and scheme to get, rather than something to share?”
Here Scherstuhl raises a good point, although it is hard to believe he thought of it as a kid. Why would Cosby need to drug women to get women interested in him, Obviously, the answer is that he did not need to drug women. That is one reason we can be sure that Dr. Cosby is innocent of all the charges against him. He was a wealthy, handsome and rich television super-star and one of the funniest men in the world. Unfortunately Scherstuhl doesn’t investigate his own logical questions.
5) Instead, he jumps to a false conclusion — “Hearing it now, it’s positively chilling, especially the crowd’s easy laughter, which suggests that Cosby was able to put over his fantasy of women stripped of their ability to say no as something near universal. Boys will be boys, hahaha, and then refuse ever to speak of it once they become rich and powerful men.”
Scherstuhl misrepresents what is happening. The audience laughs because of Cosby’s cleverness and wit in exposing the human condition of desire. We all want to be desired. It makes us do funny things. Practically romantic comedy back to Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream has told us that. In fact, in the play, Puck applies a love potion to both Lysander and Demetirus to make them fall in love with Helena. Did Puck rob these two men of their ability to say no? Should we convict William Shakespeare of being a male rapist based on this evidence that in one of his plays he took away two character’s rights to say no?
Of course a fantasy is imaginary and can’t strip anybody of their ability to say no. When you say that imaginary magic love potions rob people of their ability to say no, you are mixing up fantasy and reality and falsifying reality in a truly sick way.
Notice also that Scherstuhl is not using the text to prove Cosby’s guilty. Instead, he is assuming Cosby’s guilt and interpreting it in a preposterous way to show how it matches in some bizarre way what a rapist might say. It is like someone analyzing the Beatles’ tune “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and saying, “Isn’t it chilling and doesn’t this prove John Lennon and Paul McCartney were rapists trying to grab women by the hand to lead them off and rape them?”
Dr. Drew Shows an Edited 1991Video of a Larry King Interview
About a month later, around Jan. 12th, 2015, talk show host Dr. Drew had a panel discussing/attacking Dr. Cosby on the charges against him. He said, “I want to show my panel a fascinating interview we found from 1991. Bill Cosby was on CNN promoting a book. He tells an interesting story. Take a look.” The 26 second video clip starts with Cosby saying, “Spanish Fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to death — We will still be searching for Spanish Fly.
If we look at the transcript of the interview, which was published on November 18, 2014, almost two months before by the website fivethirtyeight, we see that the first five seconds or so has been edited out. Here is the beginning of the transcript:
COSBY: There’s a thing about Spanish Fly. Do you know anything about Spanish Fly?
KING: When we were kids we used to-
COSBY: There you go. There you go. That’s all. I just wanted the recognition.
COSBY: Spanish Fly.
KING: We knew what it was.
COSBY: Spanish Fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to death — We will still be searching for Spanish Fly.
Why was the opening seconds edited out of the clip. As now presented, it appears that Dr. Cosby is telling Larry King about Spanish fly and King is simply agreeing with him. If the first five seconds were included, it would appear obvious that Larry King knows exactly what Spanish fly is just as tens of millions of other people who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in America did.
With the opening lines, this appears like a pretty normal conversation of two elderly people reminiscing about a funny myth from their youth. Now cut out the opening and we suddenly get Cosby coming out of nowhere saying, “Spanish Fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to death — We will still be searching for Spanish Fly.”
This sounds like Cosby was one of a small group of devotees of some obscure admirers of an unknown drug named Spanish fly. It makes him appear to be a crazed devotee of Spanish fly.
Dr. Drew apparently deliberately edited the clip in this way to make Dr. Cosby appear strange and obsessed regarding Spanish fly.
This is what Colson Whitehead called “a Loser Edit” in y.a March, 2015 article called “The Loser Edit that Awaits us All” in the New York Times Magazine:
If you have ever watched a reality TV show and said, “He’s going home tonight,” you know what the “loser edit” is. I imagine it started as a matter of practicality. If you have 20 contestants, they can’t all receive equal airtime. When an obscure character gets the heave-ho, the producers have to cobble together a coherent story line. Intersperse the snippets across the hour, and we can identify sins and recognizable human frailty that need to be punished. Anyone tuning in for the first time catches up quickly. The loser edit is not just the narrative arc of a contestant about to be chopped, or voted off the island, whatever the catchphrase. It is the plausible argument of failure…
It was inevitable that Bill Cosby would receive a thorough loser edit after his army of accusers began stepping forward. There were too many sleuths nosing around for clues, downloading ancient standup routines, tapping search words into digital scans of out-of-print books: “cocktail hour,” “consent,” “things America’s favorite dad said that are creepy in retrospect.” Is he really joking about dosing women with Spanish fly on a 1969 comedy album? On a talk show in 1991? It was right in front of us all along. Embed the clip, tweet it out. This Cosby edit is on VHS, recorded over the videotape of your childhood illusions, and it cannot be undone. If that can be erased, what else?
How stupid of them to leave all that incriminating evidence out there.
The footage of your loser edit is out there as well, waiting. Taken from the surveillance camera of the gas station where you bought a lottery ticket like a chump. From the A.T.M. that recorded you taking out money for the romantic evening that went bust. From inside the black domes on the ceiling of the train station, the lenses that captured your slow walk up the platform stairs after the doomed excursion. From all the cameras on all the street corners, entryways and strangers’ cellphones, building the digital dossier of your days. Maybe we can’t clearly make out your face in every shot, but everyone knows it’s you. We know you like to slump. Our entire lives as B-roll, shot and stored away to be recut and reviewed at a moment’s notice when the plot changes: the divorce, the layoff, the lawsuit. Any time the producers decide to raise the stakes.
Dr. Drew brought put out this 26 seconds of Dr. Cosby, not to find the truth about the accusations against Dr. Cosby, but to give him a “Loser Edit.”
Janice Dickinson and Lisa Bloom’s Lawsuit Uses Spanish fly References as Evidence against Dr. Cosby
Janice Dickinson filed a defamation law suit on May 20, 2015. In her defamation claim against Dr. Cosby, Janet Dickinson primarily offers Bill Cosby’s mentions of “Spanish fly” as evidence that Dr. Cosby drugged her in 1982:
Over the years Defendant Cosby has expressed a lurid and obsessive fascination with drugging women in order to have sex with him!” Defendant Cosby talked about the mythical properties of the drug “Spanish Fly” which would make women feel amourous and sexually submissive, Defendant Cosby said “go to a party, see five girls standing along, Boy, if I had a whole jug of Spanish Fly, I’d light that whole corner up over there”
Defendant Cosby told a similar version of the story extolling Spanish Fly in his 1991 book, Childhood. In his book, Defendant Cosby wrote a lengthy description of his search for Spanish Fly so that he could secretly drug woman and even then have sex with them. “Girls are “never in the mood for u,” he wrote, “They need chemicals.”
Defendant Cosby against brought up Spanish Fly in his 1991 Interview with Larry King on CNN to promote his book. In this interview Defendant Cosby asked Larry King if he knew about Spanish Fly. Defendant Cosby said, “Spanish Fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to death – we will still be searching for Spanish Fly.” Defendant Cosby said that he could put a pinhead sized drop of Spanish Fly in a woman’s drink and she would become sexually submissive.
We can break this down distortion by distortion.
Over the years Defendant Cosby has expressed a lurid and obsessive fascination with drugging women in order to have sex with him!”
Dr. Cosby has been performing for 52 years. It is incredible and ridiculous to say that these three brief comedic references to Spanish Fly over a 52 year career show a “lurid and obsessive fascination.” Throughout his career, he has done some 400 hours of movies and television shows. If you watched them eight hours a day, five days a week, it would take you over ten weeks to watch all of them. There are no references to Spanish Fly in any of them. He has done some 38 record albums, and some 26 singles and EP’s, constituting over 400 different tracks, running over 30 hours. The Spanish Fly comedy routine is one track out of the more than 400. It is certainly absurdly rhetorical to call one track out of 400 “obsessive.”
The routine is 2 minutes and 55 seconds long out of more than 30 total hours of recorded material. The “It’s True, It’s True” album is 34 minutes and 25 seconds in total. Since it has 9 tracks, the mean average per track is about 3 minutes and 50 seconds, so even on the album, it is not a long track. His most famous routine, “Noah” runs six or seven minutes. His longest routine about his brother Russell runs over 23 minutes.
The book “Childhood” was one of dozens of books that Dr. Cosby has written or co-written. Bill Cosby wrote books from 1978-2013, some 35 years. “Goodread” lists 71 separate books, Many are children’s book and many are co-written with others, some are translations, and some are audiobooks. The adult books seem to average a little under 200 pages. We can guess that at least 2000 pages represent his own ideas and thoughts. In that 35 year period of writing, he wrote one story about Spanish fly on ten pages of those 2000 pages. He obviously found the story of his encounter with the Spanish fly myth at age 13 funny when he recalled it for his record album routine in 1969. It makes perfect sense that 22 years later, while writing a humorous book on the subject of childhood, he would use a piece of the same story over again and develop it. Again, in promoting the book, for a TV interview, it makes sense that he would refer to a chapter in the book.
Dr. Cosby has done over 150 nationally broadcast television talk show interviews. If we estimate 15-20 minutes per talk show, he would have done over 40 hours of interviews. He discussed Spanish Fly for about 30 seconds in one interview with Larry King. To discuss a subject in one interview out of over 150 interviews, or for about 30 seconds out of 40 hours of television interviews is hardly “obsessive.”
Over a 52 year public career, Dr. Cosby devoted 2 minutes and 55 seconds to a recorded comedy routine, ten pages in a book and some 30 seconds in a television interview to the subject of Spanish fly. One could find a thousand or five thousand other subjects that he devoted more time to. It is fantastic to call that an obsessive fascination. He has treated it as a minor and silly moment in his childhood. It is the people who have taken it out of context who have obsessed about it.
Cosby does not mention the word sex, nor does Cosby describe any sexual activities. It is ridiculous to describe any of this PG rated material as “Lurid.” It is like calling the “Little Mermaid” lurid because the sea-witch gives the little mermaid a magic love potion to get her prince to fall in love with her.
Defendant Cosby talked about the mythical properties of the drug “Spanish Fly” which would make women feel amorous and sexually submissive, Defendant Cosby said “go to a party, see five girls standing along, Boy, if I had a whole jug of Spanish Fly, I’d light that whole corner up over there”
As noted before, it is false to call Spanish fly a drug. It is a mythical substance as referenced by Dr. Cosby. There is a drug called cantharidin which is produced by Blister Beetles, which is sometimes referred to as Spanish fly. It is commonly used for warts. This is not what Dr. Cosby ever refers to.
Rather than “sexually submissive,” the three reference on Spanish Fly suggest that the mythical property of Spanish fly is to make women sexually aggressive. In the short story called “Or Maybe it’s a Spanish Flea” in the book Childhood, he writes, “But you gotta be careful not to give her too much,” said Junior, “or she’ll go for a flagpole instead of you.”(pg. 170) and “I told ya: too much an’ she forgets about you an’ takes on the navy yard” (pp. 170-171). The sexual aggressiveness that Cosby talks about is the exact opposite of any “sexually submissive” property that Dickinson and Bloom claim.
The statement about Cosby saying “go to a party, see five girls standing along, Boy, if I had a whole jug of Spanish Fly, I’d light that whole corner up over there” is a falsification. It deliberately takes Cosby’s words out of context. Cosby is describing the imagination of a 13 year old child when he says this. He uses a deep echo-like voice to make the audience understand that he is quoting the imagination of a 13 year old boy. By leaving out this fact, Dickinson and Bloom are substantially changing the meaning of the sentence, by maliciously turning an indirect quote into a direct quote. Cosby is quoting the imagination of a character in his comedy routine, not making a direct statement. It is like taking the last line of the anti-totalitarian novel 1984, which describes the feelings of the lead character Winston Smith after being brainwashed, “He loved big brother,” and attributing the statement to Orwell himself and calming that Orwell was a totalitarian because he wrote, “He loved Big Brother.”
Defendant Cosby told a similar version of the story extolling Spanish Fly in his 1991 book, Childhood. In his book, Defendant Cosby wrote a lengthy description of his search for Spanish Fly so that he could secretly drug woman and even then have sex with them. “Girls are “never in the mood for us,” he wrote, “They need chemicals.”
It is false to say that the story extolls “Spanish Fly.” The story talks about the silly and ridiculous things a group of 13 year old children say, think and do when they hear about an imaginary aphrodisiac Spanish fly. Characters within the story extoll Spanish Fly:
“I heard that even better is ground rhinoceros horn,” said Weird Harold.
“Maybe,” said Junior, but it’s probably easier to get rhino horn in Africa than Philadelphia. Spanish Fly is the thing, I tell ya
The story itself does not extoll Spanish fly, but ridicules the idea of the imaginary substance and show It to be a silly childish fantasy. This is exactly the opposite of extolling it, as Dickinson and Bloom claim.
They call the search for Spanish Fly “lengthy.” The search covers slightly over three pages of the story, pages 171 to 174. It consists of a group of boys who go to a Navy Yard one evening and ask the sentry at the guard booth for some Spanish fly. He jokes with them and gives them a powder which later turns out to be cornstarch. Cosby was in the navy and makes the sailor into a sweet and amiable character who plays with the children. The ten page story consists of four parts – 1) Learning about Spanish fly – about 2 pages, searching for Spanish Fly – about 3 pages, planning a party — about 2 pages, and the party itself – about 3 pages. Calling the search material “lengthy” is either odd or meant to give a false impression of the material.
They take more text from the short story out of context and twist its meaning:
“so that he could secretly drug woman and even then have sex with them. “Girls are “never in the mood for us,” he wrote, “They need chemicals.”
It is not Cosby alone who goes in search of Spanish fly. It is an entire group of friends. Again Cosby’s words are taken out of context to make it seem more sinister then they are. At this point in the story Cosby and his friends have reached the Navy Yard with the ridiculous plan of asking a Spanish Sailor for some Spanish fly. They approach an American sailor at a guard booth.
“But he’s an American sailor, “ said Eddie, “He won’t know.”
“Maybe we better go back,” said Fat Albert, “an’ and just wait till the girls’re in the mood.”
“They’re never in the mood for us,” I said, “They need chemicals.”
Cosby is showing how scared his friends are about asking for Spanish fly. Almost all 13 year olds growing up in the 1950’s would have been terrified that their parents would have found out that they were thinking about sex. If the boys do chicken out, Cosby doesn’t have a funny story to tell, so he has to find some reason for the story and the boys in the story to continue. He does this by having the Cosby character in the story remind his freinds that they’re not going to get their desires met without the Spanish fly. Notice he says “They’re never in the mood for us.” He does not say girls are never in the mood for sex, but only that they are never in the mood “for us,” meaning him and his 13 year old friends. The boys would have been taught in school that sex was a chemical reaction in the bodies of men and women. The character of the 13 year boy Cosby in the story states that girls are not chemically turned on by 13 year olds and need chemicals to get in the mood. By taking it out of context, Dickinson and Bloom imply that this is the general viewpoint of the adult Bill Cosby.
It should be also noted that in the story, that in the 13 year old Cosby character’s imagination, women want the chemicals. Here is the 13 year old Cosby’s fantasy of making love with 1950’s movie star Dorothy Dandridge (pg. 171).
While they talked about love. I pictured Dorothy Dandridge sitting on my bed, having beaten Lena Horne there.
Some Spanish Fly, Dorothy? I would graciously say.
Love some, she’d reply.
With or without ice?
This indicates that the character of the 13 year old Cosby in the short story did not consider Spanish fly as a drug, but simply a substance that enhanced sex for women and men.
- Defendant Cosby against brought up Spanish Fly in his 1991 Interview with Larry King on CNN to promote his book. In this interview Defendant Cosby asked Larry King if he knew about Spanish Fly. Defendant Cosby said, “Spanish Fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to death – we will still be searching for Spanish Fly.” Defendant Cosby said that he could put a pinhead sized drop of Spanish Fly in a woman’s drink and she would become sexually submissive.
If one is promoting a book, it is normal to bring up stories in the book. The charges say that Cosby questioned Larry King about Spanish fly, but leave out King’s answers to those questions. It leaves out the important point that King said, “When we were kids we use to,” and “We knew about it.” Since King said that he knew about it, Dr. Cosby is telling the television audience what he and King knew about it. He is simply describing Spanish fly as an aphrodisiac, as something men search for. It is obvious that he is simply saying that men look for something to turn women on all their lives. The last statement that Dr. Cosby “said that he could “put a pinhead sized drop of Spanish fly in a woman’s drink and she would become sexually submissive” is another serious distortion of the actual text. Here is the actual text:
COSBY: And what was the old- The old story was, if you took a little drop — It was on the head of a-
COSBY: -pin! And you put it in a drink-
KING: That’s right. Drop it in her Coca-cola — It don’t matter.
COSBY: It doesn’t make any difference. And the girl would drink it and-
KING: And she’s yours.
Dr. Cosby never said that “he” could put a pinhead sized drop of Spanish fly in a woman’s drink. He says “the story was, if your took a little drop…” In other words, he is saying it was a story. By saying that it was a story, Dr. Cosby is indicating that it is untrue and he does not believe it. Dickinson and Bloom change that 180 degrees and proclaim that Dr. Cosby said that “he could put a pinhead sized drop…” This is a claim that Dr. Cosby said he could do something when he was indicating thecontrary — that it was only a story told about Spanish fly. Furthermore, he never says this would make a woman become sexually submissive. It is Larry King who says, “And she’s yours.” Dickinson and Bloom totally make up something that Dr. Cosby never said.
If one goes on a search engine, today, (June, 7, 2015) Google, Yahoo or Bing and puts in the words “Spanish Fly,” one quickly sees dozens of websites with references to Dr. Cosby drugs and rape. However, virtually all of these website articles have been created in the last eight months. If one restricts the dates of a google search to 1/1/1969 to 10/1/2014, one fines few, if any) websites associating Dr. Cosby with Spanish Fly, or Spanish Fly with date-rape drugs or rape. It is clear that these ideas were not associated with each other before accusers supported by the mass media started accusing Dr. Cosby of being a rapist in November, 2015.
These hundreds of newly manufactured websites cite the 1969 album monologue, passages in the 1991 book “Childhood” and an interview Dr. Cosby did to promote the book on the Larry King show as evidence, just as Dickinson/Bloom do.
Carl Bialik, lead news writer for “538” a website that won 2013 and 2014 “Webbie” awards for best Political blog, published an article giving the full transcript of the Larry King interview on Nov. 18, 2014, before the torrent of articles associating Dr. Cosby with Spanish Fly, drugs and rape:
He brought up the story in a 1991 interview with Larry King on CNN, to promote the book.
Cosby mentions it as an example of stories in the book that he hasn’t told before. Here’s the relevant portion of the interview, according to a transcript from Nexis:
COSBY: There’s a thing about Spanish Fly. Do you know anything about Spanish Fly?
KING: When we were kids we used to-
COSBY: There you go. There you go. That’s all. I just wanted the recognition.
COSBY: Spanish Fly.
KING: We knew what it was.
COSBY: Spanish Fly was the thing that all boys from age 11 on up to death — We will still be searching for Spanish Fly.
KING: [laughs] That’s right.
COSBY: And what was the old- The old story was, if you took a little drop — It was on the head of a-
COSBY: -pin! And you put it in a drink-
KING: That’s right. Drop it in her Coca-cola — It don’t matter.
COSBY: It doesn’t make any difference. And the girl would drink it and-
KING: And she’s yours.
COSBY: -‘Hello, America!’ And there’s a story in there about Spanish Fly. So I think that everybody — any guy picking it up will just have a ball reading about that.
King then switches topics, asking, “Why is childhood difficult?”
Others besides King also didn’t react negatively to the bit. In a Tucson Daily Citizen article in 1969, Harold Stern commended Cosby for the “adroit way” he tells the story “without ever straying out of bounds.” Ronald Smith, in his 1986 book “Cosby,” calls the bit “mild.”
More recent readers of “Childhood” haven’t flagged the passage. At Goodreads, reviewers rate the book, on average, 3.72 out of 5. None of the 29 reviews mentions what the Goodreads summary calls Cosby’s “heroic quest for Spanish Fly.”
That the allegations have something in common with Cosby’s comedy isn’t conclusive.
The suggestion that Dickinson and other Cosby attackers make that joking about Spanish Fly is abnormal or weird is completely false. To insinuate that making jokes about Spanish fly in any way suggests a person who would drug or sexually abuse a woman is absurd. It is like suggesting that someone who laughs at a person getting hit by a custard pie in a movie, would punch somebody in the face. It is an absurd and ridiculous argument.
It also shows a revision of history and common understanding of the subject. Actually, Spanish fly was never considered a real “date-rape” drug. Cantharidin the drug secreted from the cantharides (Spanish fly), causes extreme pain and death in doses of 10 milligrams (about 1/7th the size of a grain of salt). It is a treatment for warts and cannot function in any way as a “date-rape” drug. It would not subdue a victim, but only make them scream in agony until they died. No person who knew anything about the effects of the drug would ever use it, and any person who didn’t know and used it would certainly be arrested for murder before they could rape anybody. The actual drug has nothing to do with the fantasy aphrodisiac that was known to tens of millions of people in the 1950’s and 1960’s and was laughed at by tens of millions of people who, like Cosby knew it was not real.
Spanish fly was in Cosby’s childhood and still is widely considered an aphrodisiac, a love potion, an imagined kind of Viagra for women, before Viagra for men existed. In short it is a magic, not a real drug.
It is most important to remember that it is an imaginary drug and was never a real drug. If Cosby had told comedic stories about real drugs, and real drugging of women that might be used to indicate some connection with drugging, but that is precisely what Bill Cosby has never done.
The humor in all his Spanish fly material does not come at the expense of women. It comes at the expense of boys and men. The humor comes from realizing how silly the myth of Spanish fly is for those who know that it does not exist. An aphrodisiac made from Spanish flies is simply a myth.
He also made fun of the fact that it is a widespread male fantasy. He says that he thought it was just in Philadelphia. When he talked with his “I Spy” co-star Robert Culp, he found out that Culp had heard the same stories growing up in California. The punchline of the story is that they go to Spain and go looking for Spanish fly, but the cab driver asks them first for some “American Fly.” This points out the widespread nature of the male fantasy of the aphrodisiac.
Cosby does not make jokes about drugging and raping women as many websites ignorantly allege. The humor comes from realizing how silly the boys and men in the story are for believing in the myth of Spanish fly. The humor in the material comes from boys and men having libidos that stops their brains from thinking and realizing that Spanish fly is a myth. This is a perfectly acute, amusing and rational observation. It is funny and educational for most listeners at the time who were not quite sure if Spanish Fly was a myth or not. Cosby tells us in no uncertain terms that it is only a myth.
It is true that Spanish Fly wasn’t talked about in polite company around that time, but nothing having to do with sex was talked about in polite company in the 1950’s and early 60’s. Everything to do with sex was considered “dirty.” The 1950’s was a time when the word “pregnant” was considered too vulgar to be on network television. From 1965 to 1970, Barbara Eden, who played a genie in “I dream of Jeannie,” had to keep her navel covered.
One could argue that Cosby is using Spanish fly, not in its common meaning of the time as a harmless imaginary aphrodisiac. One could argue that he is using it as a metaphor for drugging and raping. This is an absolutely false interpretation. Cosby fully realizes that Spanish fly is an imaginary drug and at no point indicates that he is using the term as a substitute or metaphor for anything else. In the second part of the monologue, where Cosby and his friend, Robert Culp, go to Spain and search for Spanish Fly, Cosby indicates clearly that he is taking the myth humorously. One has to be an idiot or malicious towards Cosby not to realize that Cosby is using self-deprecating humor at this point. Obviously Cosby and Culp did not travel in a taxi and look for Spanish fly in Spain. They were college educated adults. They knew Spanish fly was a myth as all intelligent adults of the time did. The humor in the story comes from the characters of Culp and Cosby in the story still acting like children and believing the myth. The punchline of the tale occurs when the Spanish taxi-cab driver asks them for “American Fly.” This indicates that the myth of an aphrodisiac is international and not limited to America. Cosby is pointing out the universality of aphrodisiac myths. He treats Spanish fly exactly as the myth it is. He never indicates that it is anything else but a myth. The comedy brilliantly entertains and educates at the same time.
We have seen that Bill Cosby rarely wrote or spoke about Spanish fly, only a few times in a long career in comedy. He spoke about it appropriately as a comedian, emphasizing the comedic aspects of the subject. He treated it as an imaginary magic aphrodisiac that could give pleasure to both men and women. At no time did he speak of it as harming women in any way. He always spoke of it as stimulating women’s desire for men. This was exactly the opposite of what his accusers were accusing him of doing, giving drugs to knock out women. By repeatedly and irrationally taking words out of context and distorting their meaning, it was the accusers of Dr. Cosby who falsified Dr. Cosby’s relationship to the subject and falsified the history and nature of the subject itself.
120 Comedic Spanish fly References
Virtually all sophisticated adults growing up in cities in America in the 1950’s and 1960’s heard about Spanish fly and knew that it was a mythological aphrodisiac. That is why they could joke about it so much. That is important to keep in mind, not just Bill Cosby joked about Spanish fly, but many other people did. He was just reflecting the environment of his time that generally treated Spanish fly as a joke. In fact, up to the point that accusers connected it with Bill Cosby assaulting women, it was still commonly treated as joke material.
List of 120 Comedic Spanish fly References
Here are 120 other common references to Spanish fly that treats/treated it as a joke, just as Dr. Cosby did in 1969 and 1991. I have divided them loosely into nine categories:
- Comedians Joking about Spanish fly
- Literary References to Spanish fly
- Musical References to Spanish fly
- Newspaper, Magazine and Mass Media Website References to Spanish fly
- Television References to Spanish fly
- Movie References to Spanish fly
- Old American Newspaper Reports from the 19th and Early 20th Century
- Merchandize and Products Related to Spanish fly
- Unusual and Unexpected Spanish fly References
1. Comedians joking about Spanish fly
- Dennis Miller: I think Al Gore invented the Ebola Virus in his college kitchenette in some horribly gone wrong experiment where he was trying to concoct home grown Spanish Fly to use on New Haven masseuses…And dot’s dot, folks! – September 1, 2011
- And for all of you ACLU members without A-C-L-U-E: when you hear a noise outside your house in the middle of the night and you fear for your life and call 911, just be glad it’s cops who show up at your front door and not Alan Dershowitz, because, believe me, if it was Dershowitz, you’d end up more fucked than a tour group in Amsterdam led by Wilt Chamberlain on Spanish Fly. – published on internet on November 6, 2000
- If I was Robin Thicke, I’d fire my people. He’s got the hottest song in America, the kid can actually sing, and all of a sudden he’s in a, you know, Gulliver’s travel on Spanish fly. – August 29, 2013.
- Bill Maher: New Rule: If you’re going to have sex with your students, you have to let them up for air. A teacher in Delaware allegedly had sex with her thirteen-year-old student twenty-eight ties in one week. Oh, to be young again! I’m getting dehydrated just thinking about it. Jesus Christ, lady. What do you teach, Spanish Fly?
- Jay Leno: “While he was in Spain, Bush got a call from Bill Clinton. Clinton said, ‘Hey, can you pick me up some Spanish fly while you’re down there?’ “
- George Burns in his 1986 book “Dear George,” wrote, I’ll tell you where to find a Spanish fly – on Julio Iglesias’ pants.
- Groucho Marx told this risqué story at a private club in 1956. He invested in a dairy and was told that he wasn’t making money because the goats were not having sex… “The next morning I packed my pajamas, toothbrush, a syringe and a suitcase of Spanish Fly, and was off to Arkansas The Spanish Fly was a sensational success. In a week’s time we not only had the goats f—— each other, but they were f—– each other, but they were f—— everything they could get their horns on: dogs, turkeys, raccoons-and one of the goats was caught in Little Rock f—— the mayor’s wife.
- Mae West, before she started in movies, wrote and starred in a Broadway play called “The Constant Sinner.” In it, the black actor Lorenzo Tucker, “played a non-speaking Spaniard and walked across the stage in one scene. When a woman asks the Babe Gordon [Mae West] character who is that hunk, Babe responds, “Oh, he’s Spanish — — he’s my Spanish fly!“
- Shelley Berman, in his Grammy winning comedy album, “Inside Shelley Berman” told us in a routine called “cleans and dirties,” that “Japanese Beatle is a clean, Spanish Fly is a dirty”
- Comedian Jaime Monroy went on a “Spanish Fly” comedy tour around 1990. He was romantically linked to Madonna who was on her Blond Ambition tour.
- Marlon Wayans talked about a Roach animated movie project with Entertainment Weekly in 2000:
You and Shawn are also working on an animated project called ”Roaches,” which has been described as ”West Side Story” with insects.
Basically, it’s like ”A Bug’s Life” or ”Antz,” but every bug represents a different race. The roaches represent the brothers and the wasps are white. It’s an interracial love story between a roach and a wasp. We got some Spanish flies in there, a couple of fruit flies for the gay community. It’s a melting pot.
- Red Foxx (Sanford and Son), the great black comedian, has a track called “Spanish Fly” on his album Redd Foxx & Slappy White – Redd & White!!, 1974 album. Unfortunately, it is out of print and quite hard to get.
- Gene Tracy was a comic of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. He sold over 20 million albums, but never became a big star. He also had a track on one of his albums entitled “Spanish Fly”
- Literary References to Spanish fly.
James Joyce mentions Spanish Fly in his 1922 novel “Ulysses”
BLOOM: Bee or bluebottle too other day butting shadow on wall dazed self then me wandered dazed down shirt good job I…
VIRAG: (His face impassive, laughs in a rich feminine key) Splendid! Spanish fly in his fly or mustard plaster on his dibble.
F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter to Ernest Hemingway in 1927: I hear you were seen running through Portugal in used B.V.D.’s, chewing ground glass and collecting material for a story about boule players; that you were publicity man for Lindbergh; that you have finished a novel a hundred thousand words long consisting entirely of the word “balls” used in new groupings; that you have been naturalized a Spaniard, dress always in a wine-skin with “zipper” vent and are engaged in bootlegging Spanish Fly between St. Sebastian and Biarritz where your agents sprinkle it on the floor of the Casino. I hope I have been misinformed but, alas!, it all has too true a ring.
- William Carlos Williams, poem:
The old black-man showed me
how he had been shocked
in his youth
by six women, dancing
a set-dance, stark naked below
the skirts raised round
bellies flung forward
his gestures, against the
tiled wall of the dingy bath-room,
swished with ecstasy to
the familiar music of
his old emotion.
Williams explained his poem in “I Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet (pg 24):
“Canthara” is Spanish Fly and the legend about it. An old colored man, Mr. Marshall, told me about it, how if you feed it to girls they go crazy and you’ll get your desire, an insatiable woman. His description of them exposing all they had to the wind seemed to me an occasion for poetry, so I wrote the poem.
- Benjamin Franklin wrote, “The usefulness of the cantharides, or Spanish flies, in medicine, is known to all, and thousands owe their lives to that knowledge. “Letter to Miss Stevenson,” June 11, 1760.
- Will Ferguson: Ferguson has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times: He published “Spanish Fly” in 2007, Viking 400 pg.
- Neil Rollinson: British author, “Spanish Fly” book of poetry, October 1, 2001
- Anais Nin published “Lilith” in her second book, The Winter of Artifice, in 1939. It’s a story that begins with her Lilith’s husband telling her that he has given her some Spanish Fly. She has a strange reaction.
So, in a state of fever and high tension, Lilith went to fetch Mabel. She did not dare confess what her husband had done to her. She remembered all the stories that she had heard about Spanish fly. In the eighteenth century in France, men had made great use of it. She remembered the story of a certain aristocrat who, at the age of forty, when he was already a little weary from his assiduous lovemaking to all the attractive women of his time, fell so violently in love with a dancer who was only twenty years old that he spent three full days and nights with her in sexual intercourse – with the help of Spanish fly. Lilith tried to imagine what such an experience might be, how it would take her at some unexpected moment and she would have to run home and confess her desire to her husband.
- Angela Meyer did a “mini-analysis” of the Anais Nin “Lilith” story:
it can be seen why writing such as Nin’s escapes the title of ‘pornography’ and is related to as ‘erotica’. Roger Horrocks notes that ‘[W]omen… can experiment with porn and S/M without necessarily falling victim to patriarchal categories. It is possible to play with such categories and subvert them, and not inevitably fall into a position of supine passivity towards them’ (1997, p. 141).
It is this kind of ‘play’ that we see in (among others) the story Lilith (Nin 2000) where a woman has no desire for her demeaning husband. He tricks her into taking ‘Spanish Fly’, and while the intention is to tease her as it is fake, she attends the cinema with a female friend and is subject to a placebo effect. She realises she does experience the normal hungers of sexual desire. In the end she decides to keep this from her husband.
- Steve Connor called did a fascinating article called “Antient Commonwealth of Flies,” this reference to Spanish Fly helping to cure barrenness in horses may be a clue to the beginning of the idea of Spanish Fly as an aphrodisiac:
The aphrodisiac known as ‘Spanish fly’ has nothing to do with flies, being made up of the (highly toxic) ground-up bodies Lytta vesicatoria (also known as Cantharis vesicatoria), an emerald-green beetle which goes by the alternative name of the ‘blister-beetle’. But the term ‘Spanish fly’ has helped to seal the association between flies and sexual desire. Spanish fly was also used as a treatment for infertility in animals. Thomas Blundeville advised the following procedure for a barren mare in his 1566 manual of horse-care:
the cure of barrennesse that cometh through the faulte of the Matrix or wombe, according to the old wryters is thus. Take a good handeful of Leekes, stampe them in a morter, with halfe a Glasse full of wine. Then put therevnto .xij. flyes called of the Appoticaries, Cantharides, of diuers coulours if they may be gotten, then strayne al togyther, with a sufficient quantitie of water to serue the Mare therewith two dayes together, by pouring the same into hir nature with a horne or glister pype made of purpose, and at the ende of three dayes next following, offer the horse vnto hir that shoulde couer hir, and immediately after that she is couered, wash hir nature twice together with colde water. (Blundeville 1566, 79)
- From “Life and Opinions of John Buncle Esquire” by Thomas Amory, published in 1756:
So wonderfully has the great Creator provided for the pleasing food, but so fine a medicine, among a thousand others, as the Spanish fly, to save him from the destroying fever, and restore him to health again… the benefit is entirely owing to that heating, attenuating, and pungent salt of this fly, and this fly only, which the divine power and goodness has made a lymphatic purgative, or glandular cathartic for the relief of man, in this fatal and tormenting malady.
From the Journal of American folk-Lore, in an article on Canadian Fork-lore from Ontario, we get, “Have often heard that Spanish fly is effective as a love-potion. It is given (in homeopathic doses?) in candies.
3. Musical References to Spanish Fly
24. Julius Wechter wrote the composition ‘Spanish Fly’. It was renamed “Spanish Flea” by Larry Levine, the recording engineer when Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass recorded it. The song became a hit for Alpert and was a theme song on “the Dating Game,” the first reality dating show on television. It was played when male contestants met female contestants. The show was in prime time from 1966-1970 and in daytime at various times from 1965-2000.
25. Eddie Van Halen released his song “Spanish Fly” on his second album “Van Halen II” in 1979.
26. An urban contemporary band from NYC, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, did a 1987 record album named “Spanish Fly.” It was their most successful album.
27. Lou Reed released a DVD called “Spanish Fly” in 2005.
28. In 2014, Jennifer Lopez was featured on a song called “Spanish Fly,” by Black Rob. He apparently sampled Madonna’s song La Isla Bonita as this site proves.
29. Aventura, a musical group form the Bronx with roots in the Dominican Republic, released a song called “Spanish Fly” in 2014. It features Wycliff Jean, Romeo and Ludacris. The last lyric reads, “I need my Spanish Fly.”
30. The Keef Hartly Band was the first British Band to play at the famous Woodstock Music Festival. They went on 4:47 on Sat, August 16, 1969. The first song they played was called “Spanish Fly.”
31. “Trust No Man” album by Latino Hip-hop group entitled Spanish Fly.
32. DJ Spanish Fly, a Latino hip hop disk jockey in Memphis in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
33. Spanish Fly is the name of a jazz trio from New York City who released 2 records in 1994.
34. Spanish Fly & Co. was the name of a band from Chicago from 1990 to 1997. They fused rumba flamenca with, funk & jazzy flavors, percussive grooves & latin rhythms.
35. SF Spanish Fly. This is a San Francisco-based Latino duo. Its members are John “Milo” Pro and Octaviano Silva. They, mix Latin and reggae rhythms with elements of dance and R&B. They released an album on Warner Brothers record label in 1995.
36. Spanish Fly Records is an independent record label based in Minnesota.
37. Eric Benet wrote a song “Spanish Fly” which has this refrain:
I know just what you need
I feel what you’ve been going through
I’ve got the remedy
Use me like Spanish Fly
- The song by Eric Benet has become a popular line dance with over 15 youtube videos showing people line dancing to it. Dance instructor Linda Simms has a youtube video where she writes, “Weddings parties, girls night out, birthday parties, family reunions, bachelorette parties, here’s an easy beginner’s line dance that is so much fun and anyone can do it.
Check it out”
- Newspaper, Magazine and Mass Media Website References to Spanish fly
38. In Feb. 2014, Nine months before running its article on Bill Cosby and Spanish Fly by Alan Scherstuhl, the Village Voice had an article entitled Spanish Fly. It was about the Flamenco dancer Soledad Barrio.
- From a review by James Wolcott in the Village Voice, Sep. 12, 1977: “Soap is a sexual demolition derby – crude, nose, and collision filled. The characters in this new ABC comedy leer and lust as Spanish fly has been sprinkled into their morning coffee.”
40. The Washington Post, in a 2006 article, describes Frank Sinatra this way:
He wore a one-button tuxedo and slid around backstage as if through ether. He’d sip, almost daintily, from the drink in his hand. “Spanish fly and ginger ale,” he’d joke.
41. The Village Voice which found Bill Cosby’s references to Spanish fly so unsettling on Nov. 17, 2014, had articles entitled “Spanish Fly” in reference to Flamenco dancing on March 7, 2012, and Feb. 12, 2014. Another Dec. 26, 2012 article entitled “Spanish fly” was on the New York city Jazz Band by that name.
- In 1993, Don Oldenburg of the Washington Post interviewed Pratima Raichur, an expert in aphrodisiacs. He began the article:
One thing aphrodisiacs really do stimulate is nervous laughter. The other is skepticism.
Usually in that order.
Just mention aphrodisiac, the word, the concept, and you get the same uncomfortable titter you heard a long time ago in junior high school when the older kids told you what Spanish fly was supposed to do to the opposite sex. As in, drive them into a mating frenzy the likes of which species on this end of the food chain aren’t meant to experience.
And that’s exactly what you don’t get from aphrodisiacs, according to prevailing scientific wisdom. No sexual urgency. No heightened sensuality. No uncontrollable physical attraction.
At least that’s what the Food and Drug Administration said three years back when it advised that non-prescription substances being peddled as aphrodisiacs were fraudulent “because their safety and effectiveness could not be proven,” and warned that a few were potentially toxic…
- Jeff Klinkenberg in the St. Petersberg Times in 1991 about his early 1960’s teenage-hood:
I didn’t know any boy who was actually having sex. But we talked about sex all the time. We studied the Playboys my friend Domingo hid in the loose bricks of the barbecue pit in his back yard. We discussed the wonders of something called Spanish fly, said to drive women insane with desire. I pictured a winged insect, or maybe something tied with deer fur and a No. 2 Mustad hook.
- This Seattle Times article compared pheromones to Spanish Fly:
From what I have been reading, our bodies produce these odors called pheromones. And pheromones — which are kind of complicated but seem to work like airborne Spanish Fly — can make us appear appealing to the opposite sex.
- In 1996, Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning Observer wrote about a book called “Everything You Know is Wrong” by Paul Kirchner:
For the current book, the 44-year-old went back and investigated all that weird stuff we learned as kids. Some turned out to be true – a singer really can break a glass by voice alone.
But a lot proved to be nonsense. Like Spanish fly. Every boy knew that one drop of the mysterious substance would drive women wild with sexual desire.
Wrong. And it’s a good thing we never actually located any. The stuff, made from the crushed shell of blister beetles, causes diarrhea, vomiting, depression, internal bleeding and urinary pain and can be fatal.
Sounds a lot like my first date.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican contained this reminiscence about Spanish fly by Robert Knott in 2009:
What self-respecting lover needs a magic love potion? I still recall those comic-book and wrestling-magazine ads for Spanish fly (“Get her into the mood for love”), which tempted me to part with the few dollars I had as a young teen — as did ads for X-ray glasses (they didn’t work), ant farms (my parents are still stepping on the descendants), and muscle-building formulas (instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I ended up looking like Arnold Stang)…
Spanish fly — Robert’s story: After sending in my money order more than three decades ago, I tried this stuff — and it didn’t help my love life one bit. I guess it would have helped if I had a girlfriend. Today you don’t have to buy a wrestling magazine to get your mitts on this aphrodisiac — just check the “spam” folder in your e-mail.
- When Viagra first came out in 1998, it was often compared to Spanish Fly. In a May 4, 1998, the New York Daily News article, we read, “Last week, Don T. got his first Viagra prescription. “Now I’ve got an erection that just don’t stop,” he said. “It’s the Spanish fly of the year 2000. I’m feeling alive again, sex is fun it’s not an effort any more.” “
- In the living section, 4B of the Charlotte Observer (NC), on Jan. 4, 1988, we find this joke:
No Use: “Spanish fly,” famed to generations of Americans as a supposed
aphrodisiac, has little or no value, according to researchers at Out Front`s
huge Midwestern testing facility.
Doses of the substance, which is purported to increase sexual desire, were
given to several hundred volunteers. A similar control group was dosed with
equal amounts of a harmless formula consisting mostly of ordinary vinegar.
Both groups were then placed in singles bars.
After several months of testing, the group that received vinegar actually
reported greater sexual desire.
So there you have it, friends. If you are considering slipping a love
potion into someone`s drink, remember – you can catch more honeys with vinegar than with fly.
- Newsweek critic Jack Kroll reviewed the 1976 version of King Kong and noted this about newcomer Jessica Lange: “Lange is an appealing girl who, along with Bridges, projects the only archetypal sincerity in the film. She has a crystal-clear camera presence, and her air of elegant sexual supplication makes you think of Eva Marie Saint under the influence of Spanish fly.”
50. National Lampoon 12/1970: SPANISH FLY FACTORIES SHUT DOWN
IN PROTEST OVER FRANCO’S EXECUTIONS
In a nationwide protest against Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s brutal execution of five terrorists convicted of murdering policemen, the workers in Spain’s most important industry left their jobs and went on an indefinite strike.
- In 1996, USA TODAY television critic, Matt Roush wrote:
— NYPD Blue (ABC, 10 p.m. ET/PT): What do they put in this precinct’s water cooler? Spanish fly? The relationship heats up between detectives Lesniak (Justine Miceli), who once flirted with the idea of being lesbian, and the long-smitten Martinez (Nicholas Turturro). About the only regular character not involved with someone in the workplace is happily married Lt. Fancy (James McDaniel). What’s wrong with him?
- The Atlantic Journal Constitution in 1990 gave this review of the new NBC television series “Hull High”:
“Hull High” reeks of sex, as if someone had spiked the drinking fountains with Spanish fly. It’s a crass attempt to get hormone-hopped teens to the tube, and if their 6-and 7-year-old siblings come along, hey, it’s still good for the Nielsens.
53 In 2003, Miami Herald television Critic Glenn Garvin found Spanish Fly in another NBC television series, “NBC’s sitcom Coupling, with six young people sleeping together or talking about sleeping together or regretting sleeping together, sounds a bit like an episode of Friends where the drinks at the coffee shop have been spiked with Spanish fly.”
- In 2006, the Miami Herald pointed out this about the new television show “Sexual Healing”:
It’s like watching an episode of Oprah where half the guests have been dosed with Spanish fly and the other half locked in steel chastity belts.
- In a 2011 review of the movie “Friends,” CNN reviewer, Mark Robinowitz describes the plot this way:
The story is pretty basic. Kunis is Jamie, a New York corporate headhunter assigned to land Timberlake’s Dylan for a client. He’s a hotshot web designer who rather improbably goes from designing a blog (albeit one that gets 6 million hits a month) to art directing GQ.
There’s clear chemistry between the two, and after Dylan accepts the job offer, it’s only a matter of time before the new kid in town and his new best friend are doing it like bunnies in a Spanish Fly factory.
- In 2004, Chicago Sun Times Columnist Mark Brown heard of a test of a female equivalent to Viagra and wrote a column that included this:
Finally, a scientific alternative to Spanish fly.
You remember Spanish fly, the legendary aphrodisiac that schoolboys began discussing sometime before puberty, having absolutely no idea what they were talking about, but not letting that stop them, kind of like me writing about chemosignals.
When they got older, they still didn’t know what Spanish fly was, but eventually, somebody would get around to mail-ordering it from the back of a magazine, boasting of his intentions to secretly induce some girl to take it. Eventually word got around it didn’t work.
Real Spanish fly, it turns out, is made from the crushed wings of a particular beetle, which not only fail to produce the desired results but also can cause some unpleasant side effects, including death. Luckily, much of what is sold as Spanish fly is apparently just cayenne pepper.
The incredible popularity of Viagra and similar drugs for men have created a big push for somebody to develop a Viagra-type drug for women. Somebody is working on a testosterone patch to enhance a woman’s sexual libido, and there’s something called PT-141 that they say is a real turn-on to female lab rats.
Guys are intrigued
- On Sceptic.com, in a book review called “Why Women Want to Have Sex. Here’s Why.” Victoria Bekiempis begins:
ROMANTIC CRADLING AND ROUGH HAIR PULLING. Power trips and jealous fits. Bouquets and, occasionally, belts. Sometimes, even, unbridled religious ecstasy. As teens, we giddily whisper at sleepovers about it. It’s the subject of exaggerated locker room play-by-plays, as well as sloshed, sloppily narrated barroom tales. It’s in the infamous Porky’s movies as well as in urban legends about a mythic aphrodisiac called the Spanish fly.
- In its April, 1983 issue, Playboy Magazine has a pictorial that it describes this way:
136 LADIES OF SPAIN—pictorial
In which some of the most beautiful women on any continent provide good reasons for the abolition of the Spanish fly.
- Slate.com ran an article in 2006 on Spanish architecture by Slate’s architecture critic,Witold Rybczynski, entitled “Spanish Fly: How Did Spanish Architecture Get So Good.” It appears that the term Spanish Fly simply is a synonym for “sexy.”
- The Washington Post movie review of I’m So Excited” July 4, 2013, by Michael O’Sullivan.
“I’m So Excited,” Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar’s strange and confounding new sex farce, plays like a recruitment video for the Mile High Club produced by the team behind “Airplane!,” but with all the jokes removed. Despite its plentiful and playful sexuality, this dose of Spanish fly is anything but exciting.
- This is from a 2009 article from the Boston Examiner by Greg Blanco:
Yes, I know, it is hipster blasphemy to ever say anything good about the Dave Matthews Band, but in the late nineties hordes of J-Crew wearing teenagers from the suburbs used these songs like Spanish fly so he must have been doing something right.
5. Television References to Spanish fly.
62. Beavis and Butt-head. Season 5 Episode 46. Oct 5. 1995, Spanish Fly…
The two moronic metal-heads spike a carton of milk with Spanish fly, hoping a girl they want to have sex with will drink it. Instead a jock on the Highland High wrestling team who’s been hassling them takes a swig of it, and he’s scheduled to wrestle with Beavis in the next gym class!- Written by Daniel Timothy Dey
- The Golden Girls. “End of the Curse) Season 2, episode 1. September 27, 1986
Dorothy: An aphrodisiac, it’s a substance that makes you feel sexy.
Rose: Really? Like what?
Dorothy: Like Spanish Fly
Rose: Spanish flies?
Dorothy: Fly, fly, Rose, one fly.
Rose: Oh, come on, Dorothy, I’ve been to Spain. Its not the cleanest country in the world. They got thousands of flies. Valencia alone…
Dorothy: It is not a fly, Rose.
Rose: Spanish Fly is not a fly?
Rose: What is it?
Dorothy: It’s a beetle.
Rose’: They call it a fly, but it’s really a beetle?
Rose: How do they know it’s Spanish?
Dorothy: Because it wears a little sombrero, Rose!
Rose: Well why don’t they just call it a beetle…Spanish Beetle?
Dorothy: Because they call it Spanish Fly.
Rose: Then what do they call their flies?
Dorothy: I DON’T CARE, ROSE!!! Forget it! I don’t care! The minks can just sit there and we’ll lose all our money! I don’t care! Just don’t mention Spanish Fly to me ever again!
Rose: You’re really touchy about these Spanish Flies, aren’t you.
- Futurama episode entitled “Spanish Fry” makes numerous aphrodisiac jokes. It was season 4 episode 17, first broadcast on July 13, 2003.
Linda: [on TV] The valuable nose, or “human horn”, fetches a high price on alien worlds as an aphrodisiac. 
Fry: My nose is an aphrodisiac? [He retches.] I’m gonna drop a barf!
Morbo: [on TV] Demand for human horn is great, due, in part, to titillating scenes from depraved alien TV programmes too filthy for Earth broadcast. Let’s watch.
[The scene changes to two Neptunian lovers on a bed together. The man holds up two noses. The woman gasps.]
Neptunian Woman: [on TV] Human horn? But … it is forbidden!
Neptunian Man: [on TV] So is our love.
- X-Files, Season 9 Episode 5. December 16, 2001, “Lord of the Flies,”
Doggett: What if somebody put something in his helmet? Insect pheromone. You know, “Spanish Fly”–that stuff you see advertised in the back of magazines that guys use to attract girls. I glance at them for amusement.
Scully: I may have to brush up on my “Spanish Fly” but I don’t think the science works that way. Anyway, before we start looking for M.O., I want to find out what kind of fly would act that aggressively.
- Rocko’s Modern Times, “Leap Frogs,” season 1, episode 2. Oct. 31, 1993
Mrs. Bighead tries to seduce Rocko, she offers him a drink which she had covertly spiked with spanish fly. Literally, she sprinkles brown flies with sombreros and ponchos into his drink.
- Guess host Brian Unger said this on “Countdown” on MSNBC in 2006:
UNGER: Hey Michael, let’s talk about the phenomenon that goes on, on movie sets. OK, Vince Vaughn, I guess, allegedly, shoots a movie, no he did shoot a movie with Jennifer Aniston, now he ends up landing one of the hottest women in Hollywood. What’s going on these sets? Is there like Spanish fly at Kraft Services?
- The Drew Carey Show, Episode, Season 3, Episode 23, “The Sex Drug:” Lewis confiscates a sex drug from DrugCo after nearly being attacked by several monkeys who had used it. The drug is accidentally spilled into a batch of green Buzz Beer being prepared for St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone at the Warsaw inadvertently drinks the tainted beer with startling results. Drew prepares to be the sole witness in Mimi’s “sexual harassment” case while under the influence of the sex drug.
- The Twilight Zone, Episode 31, Season 1, “the Chaser”: In this comedic episode, Roger Shackleforth is desperately in love with Leila. He visits an old professor named Daemon for advice on how to win her. The professor, after some resistance, sells Roger a love potion for $1.00…
- “This episode was adapted by Robert Presnell, Jr. from the short story “The Chaser” by John Collier. The script was originally written for and produced live on television on The Billy Rose Television Theatre in 1951.”
- The short story also was adapted in 1951 for Tales from the Crypt, where it was retitled “Loved to Death!!” This was adapted in 1991 as “Loved to Death” (no exclamation points) for the HBO adult-horror anthology series Tales from the Crypt. The episode starred Andrew McCarthy and Mariel Hemingway.
- The NBC television show, “Last Comic Standing,” had a comedy team called dos Spanish Flies on in 2008.
- Movie References to Spanish fly
- In his first starring role, Tom Cruise played Woody in Losin’ it (1983). There is a subplot about Spanish Fly. In this dialogue, the movie script makes almost the same point about the universality of myths about Spanish Fly that Cosby makes in his 1969 monologue:
Dave: I heard about this guy who got some spanish flies for his girlfriend, because she wasn’t putting out. He gave her one and stopped at a liquor store or something, and when he came out guess what he found?
Woody: She was dead on top of the gearshift.
Dave: You know the same guy!
Woody: No, the same story.
- Vice Academy Part 2. Released Oct. 25, 1990. “When a criminal female named Spanish Fly threatens to contaminate the city water with aphrodisiacs, it is up to a duo of attractive female police officers to stop her.”
- Chasing Amy (1997) directed and written by Kevin Smith. Alyssa – Joey Lauren Adams, Holden – Ben Affleck. [at a Skee-ball arcade]
Alyssa: And this is where you take straight chicks on dates.
Holden: What, are you kidding? This place is like Spanish Fly! This’ll probably be the first time I don’t score afterwards.
Alyssa: I don’t know, I’m starting to feel a tingle in my bottom.
- In the 2010 movie, Easy A, according to kids-in-mind.com: A teenage girl tells a teenage boy about how foods have not been scientifically proven to be “aphrodisiacs,” that men have been known to consume powdered rhinoceros horn to increase genital size and that Spanish Fly has been known to cause “painful discharge.“
- The 1983 Canadian film “Screwballs” has an episode involving Spanish fly.
During detention one fine day, five male students at T & A High School (the rich jock, the ladies man, the naive transfer student, the fat guy and the nerd) make a pact to see the last virgin in their class (Purity Busch) naked by the homecoming dance. Oddly enough, their increasingly bizarre schemes involve seeing the breasts of just about every other girl in the class except for Purity’s. The nerd tries to hypnotize her, the fat guy hides beneath her in the sand while she sunbathes and the jock dumps a batch of Spanish Fly in the school punch bowl. The ladies man poses as a breast inspector and as a home economics teacher taking measurements for homecoming dresses. The comedy apparently plateaus during a game of strip bowling when the nerd gets stuck in a bowling ball. And I’m not talking about his finger.
- Spanish fly appears again in a 1997 film entitled “Telling Lies in America.” Roger Ebert mentions this in his review, “But that’s a small point. I liked this movie a lot–not just for Bacon and Renfro, but also for the work of the wonderfully-named Calista Flockhart, as the girl who dates Karchy even after he unwisely tries to give her Spanish fly.”
- The noted British comedian, Terry Thomas, (“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”) appeared in 1976 in a British comedy named Spanish Fly.
- Daphna Kastner, wife of actor Harvey Keitel, wrote, directed and starred in a movie called Spanish Fly in 1998.
- Will Wallace wrote, directed and starred in an independent film entitled Spanish Fly in 2003.
- Woody Allen uses the term “Spanish Fly” as an insult in “What’s Up, Tiger Lily”. We get this exchange Diane Keaton in Manhattan Murder Mystery:
CAROL: Where is Ted? I just don’t understand where Ted is. I mean, you know, all this stuff is happening.
LARRY: Ted? Ted-Ted’s, you know, he’s got his date with Marcia Fox tonight. He’s probably out buying some Spanish Fly.
- This is from a review in the Patriot Ledger of the 2002 James Bond movie “Die Another Day”
What sets this one apart, though, is the presence of reigning Oscar queen Halle Berry, whose dangerous curves and protruding parts transform a simple orange bikini into the greatest aphrodisiac since Spanish fly.
- The New York Post in 2007 said this about actor Javier Bardem, “He’s Spanish ‘Fly’.
An April, 2012 article on the blog “Guest of a Guest” mentioned this about movie stars at an L.A. Lakers Basketball Games: Tuesday night we got some frisky business with Jack Black, Ashton Kutcher and Jeffrey Katzenberg (poor guy was hardcore third-wheeling them) but we could not have predicted the surprise MVP of the night when Josh Brolin stepped onto the scene like a fratboy on Spanish Fly at homecoming weekend.
` 7. Old American Newspaper Reports from the 19th and Early 20th Century
These historical quotes was found by searching a library of congress website, at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
- The Baton-Rouge Gazette (August 5, 1848) suggests Spanish Fly if you are bitten by a rabid beast to prevent hydrophobia: “The cavities of the wounds which are formed by the teeth are to be filled with Spanish Fly powder, over which a Spanish Fly plaster is to be put, extending fully half an inch in circumference beyond the lips of the wound. The skin (epidermis) is to be removed as soon as the blister has risen.”
- 86. The New Orleans Daily Cresent (July 22, 1851) suggests Spanish Fly as a cure for Malaria: “the only insect now holding a place among the malaria medics, is that salutary bitter, the Cantharides or Spanish Fly of Europe.
- The Nashville daily patriot (August 23, 1856) suggest that it is more patriotic to use the potatoe fly rather than the Spanish Fly: “It should be generally known, (remarks the Louisville Journal,) that the potatoe fly (Lytta Vittata) is as good a blistering fly as the Spanish Fly or Cantharides, and, being a home product should be used instead of the imported fly.”
- The Washington D.C. Evening Star (October 05, 1857) reported, “The Cantharis or Spanish fly, is a native of California. Large numbers of this insect were observed some days ago on the “island” beyond the Guadloupe, Santa Clara country. They can sometimes be seen there, it is said, in clusters of swarms, large enough to fill a pint measure They are as easily caught as any other beetle, and as the powder of canthradies is sold in our drug stores at a very high figure, there seems no reason why these little bugs should not be a remarkable commodity.
- The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii), November 14, 1885 writes, “A correspondent of Le Canadien recommends as an unfailing remedy for small-pox the application, when the first symptoms appear, of two small Spanish-fly blisters to the arm of the patient between the elbow and the shoulder…”
- The Salt Lake Herald (June 14 1887) warned of a Spanish Fly attack in Trenton, Mo: This town and vicinity have been infested the past week by an insect, the description of which agrees fully with a species of cantharides, or Spanish fly, as given in the United States dispnsatory. The insects come in perfect swarms and they not only devour vegetation with avidity, but heir vesticating power on the human body is equal fully to cantharides. Fully a thousand people in Trenton are at present nursing blisters caused by this insect, and lights in residences at night have been almost abandoned for fear of attracting the poisonous insect.
The Weekly Expositor (Brockway Centre, Mich), Oct. 02, 1891, tells us about about the papabote bird, a bird considered a delicacy because it feeds on Spanish Fly: “Few people up north ever heard of the bird, I guess, much less ever tasted one, but every one knows the Spanish Fly. A fly blister used to be as common as colic, and some folks used to say that it was easy to loco any one if you could get him to eat anything that a Spanish Fly had been put into. But maybe you don’t know what it is to loco any one. Well, the old darkey hoodoo doctors of the south will tell yu that if you want to make a girl love you all you have to do is to put some part of a Spanish fly into an apple or ice cream or an oyster stew, or anything you treat her to, and that when she eats the fruit or the dish she’ll be crazy after you. That’s what they call being locoed. I don’t kow whether the Spanish fly will do that or not, but no one ever tasted one of these birds I am speaking of without being crazy for them ever after, and they don’t feed on anything except Spanish Flies in the season when the bird is sought for food. I don’t say that peope who eat the are locoed by the birds, but maybe they are.”
- The Daily Missoulian, (Missoula, Montana) November 22, 1912 wrote this “Cantharides (Spanish Fly) – This is often given by ignorant men, for which purpose they are defeated, but being an acrid irritant poison/ it produces serious results, frequently causing inflammation of urinary organs.
- The New York Tribune (December 17, 1914) reviewed a farce in German called “Die Spanische Fliege”: A farce of much more than average cleverness was produced last night at the Irving Place Theatre. It is intitled “Die Sanische Fliege” and I the work of Franz Arnold and Ernest Bac. The Spanish Fly is a dancer who left behind her a son, for whose support she had collected money from various putative fathers.
- The Norwich bulletin, August 09, 1917 in an article entitled “Slight Governmental Error” noted: The government has announced that “the only good fly is a dead fly which is about as true as the older declaration that “the 0nly good Indian is a dead Indian.”
All flies are not filthy and all flies do not spread disease for the Spanish Fly has been prescribed for a good and useful purpose by the physicians for more than one century.
- The Jasper News, (Jasper, Mo.) November 22, 1917 notes, “Spanish fly is an insect much used in medicine as an irritant. It is gathered from the Lilac bushes of Southern Europe at night by shaking the branches, the collector’s hands and face being protected by veils and gloves against the volatile acid discharge of the beetles. Then the insects are killed by immersion in hot vinegar. One one-hundredth (1-100) of a grain of Spanish Fly placed on the lip rapidly causes a blister.”
- The Washington Time, July 21 1918, noted “As most people know, many insects are employed in medicine, and some of them that might be harmful in their natural activities are, when used as medicine made to serve a good purpose. A beetle called the Spanish fly is fairly widely used as a blistering agent, and also forms an ingredient of many hair washes.
- The South Bend news-times from South Bend, Indiana on April 25, 1920 had this article by Helen Rowland entitled “How to Rule a Woman”: “I was only trying the ‘cave-man’ stunt – to please you. Didn’t that Spanish author say that a little bullying, a little rough treatment is what all you women are secretly pining for?”
“Blasco Ibanez!” exclaimed the Widow, the flag of battle flaming in her cheeks. “Don’t you mention his name to me!” and she fluttered the long black ostrich plumes of her fan, indignantly.
I didn’t,” protested the Bachelor, “I can’t pronounce it: But what has he done to you?”
“Nothing,” was the prompt rejoinder, “I’m thinking of what he has done to all the men of this country—and all by an idle remark. Here we have the most chivalrous and loyal lovers, and the most devoted and loyal lovers, and the most devoted and best-trained husbands in the whole world! And he comes over and tries to drop a Spanish fly in our cup of joy.!”
8. Merchandize and Products Related to Spanish fly
98. Spanish Fly Bait Oil for fishing. Aerosol spray can
Here is a Spanish Fly bait oil that was advertised in the back of magazines. No Fish Can Resist Spanish Fly Bait Oil. The page author notes,” Back in my day, we didn’t have those embarrassing ads for Viagra and other little pills of that sort. No, we whispered and giggled about Spanish Fly. We weren’t sure what it was, mind you, but somehow we all got the message that it was supposed to make girls…shall we say a little bit more…ahem…interested! It was advertised in the back of my dad’s detective story mags in discreet little ads but if you looked close it always indicated that this wasn’t REAL Spanish Fly and was just to be used for “novelty purposes.”
- Spanish Fly Mints. Increase your sexual appetite with these Spanish Fly Mints. They are dual-sided, with one side delivering libido enhancing amino acids (including L-Arginine), and the other providing you with a delicious flavor. The Spanish Fly Mints are available in Cherry Berry, Chocolate, and Peppermint. Get a little wild tonight! This item is proudly made in America, exclusively by Doc Johnson.
- You can roll your cigars with Kingpin Spanish Fly Cigar Wraps.
- Spanish Fly Apparel sells clothes. It is related to Spanish Fly Records.
- You can buy “Spanish Fly Liquid Lemon” from the Dominican Republic on Amazon.com. It calls itself pseudo Spanish Fly
- Sunset Novelties sells Spanish Fly Daiqueri in a number of different flavors: Stawberri, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cola, Pina Colada and Original.
- Rite-aid, the 4th largest pharmacy chain in America, will sell you Spanish Fly Liquid Cherry by Nasswalk. It brags, “This secret formula Spanish Fly liquid can be mixed in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and so forth? or mix with food. It is non-toxic and you can use as many as ten drops with complete safety.”
- This company offers Spanish Fly Romance on the Run, a sexual energy drink on a keychain
- Six underground adult comic books created by an artist from Spain in 1996 came out entitled “Spanish Fly.”
9. Unusual and Unexpected Spanish fly References
107. The mission of the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation is to honor Jose’s legacy by making fishing dreams come true for those who face life-impacting challenges. Jose was host of a television show named “Spanish Fly”.
108. Spanish Fly was the name of a street game played by children in Brooklyn at least from the 1880’s. It was a little like “leap frog”: From Journal of American folk-lore –
This game is similar to “Head and Footer” and “Par,” except that the one who is “it” remains stationary, and the “leader,” who vault first, practices or suggests various feats or tricks, in which the others must follow him.One of these is called “Hats on the Back.” The leader, as he jumps, leaves his hat on the back of the boy who is down. The second boy puts his hat on the leader’s and this is continued, the playerspiling up their hat, until one of them lurches over the pile, and becomes “it.”
- Darlene Cates, who starred in the movie Gilbert Grape, says in this August, 2012, “where are they now” article, “Don’t think for one second that if Spielbug [sic]dangled a job offer that I wouldn’t spread my legs faster and wider than a Tijuana hooker hooked on Spanish Fly.” [Spielbug?]
- Spanish Fly is the name of a line dance choreographed by Debbie McLaughlin .
- Spanish Fly Hair Garage is the name of a hairdressing salon in Sacramento. Haircuts start at $40. Its webpage notes: Spanish Fly strives to create a relaxing and enjoyable environment for all our clients. We request that children be brought in the salon for their appointments only. And as always, please turn off your cellphones and relax.
- There was a bar in Scottdale Arizona named “Spanish Fly”. According to Politco.com, in 2012, the bar invited Ben Quayle, son of the former vice-president, Dan Quayle, to host a pool party after POLITICO reported earlier this month he was among the lawmakers who took a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee.
- Here’s a silly, short cartoon video and song called “Spanish Fly” It appears to be from around 2007. http://www.flowgo.com/funny/12105_spanish-fly.html#TAFTitle.
- Spanish NBA basketball star Pau Gasol was nicknamed the Spanish Fly.
- In 1996, it was widely reported that Spanish Fly worked as an Aphrodisiac, but only for fire colored Beetles:
Once thought to have the power to drive lovers into frenzies of passion, Spanish fly, a purported aphrodisiac that is thoroughly ineffective in reality, has long had a seedy reputation as a sexual snake oil. But in a redemption of sorts, scientists have found that Spanish fly can indeed make males absolutely irresistible — if only to females with six legs and wings.
In a new study in the current issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Thomas Eisner, a chemical ecologist at Cornell University, and his colleagues have shown that during courtship, female fire-colored beetles taste-test a gland in their suitor’s forehead. What they are searching for is a bit of Spanish fly, which in its pure form is known as cantharidin, a toxic substance quite rare in nature. If he has it, she consents. If he does not, forget it.
Males that do mate then give females a much larger dose of cantharidin along with their sperm, providing enough of the potent chemical for the female to lace her eggs with it, protecting them from predators.
“It’s like a woman assessing the resources of a man by seeing how many credit cards he carries,” said Dr. James Carrel, a chemical ecologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia who is one of few researchers, other than the authors, studying how animals use Spanish fly.
- The Syracuse Times on May 21st 2014 carried a review of a play called “the Wild Party”
It noted, “New Yorker writer Joseph Moncure March’s long narrative poem “The Wild Party” (1928) was a literary sensation in its day. Jack Kroll called it “F. Scott Fitzgerald on Spanish fly.” Kroll didn’t actually review the poem, but a 2000 version of the play. Kroll did the Jessica Lange as “Eva Marie Saint under the influence of Spanish fly” quote. (See #49 above). F. Scott Fitzgerald mentioned Spanish Fly in his letter to Ernest Hemingway. (See #15 above)
- Bob Fitch is a chemist He holds patents and has published well over 100 papers and three books in the fields of Polymer Colloids and polymers at interfaces. He remembers this episode from his 1949 Senior Year at Dartmouth College:
During my senior year at Dartmouth the chemistry department provided me with a research lab usually assigned only to graduate students. This provided an incredible opportunity to pursue my own goals. I had in mind the synthesis of two rather complex (for me) organic compounds, one of which was cantharidin, the active ingredient in Spanish Fly. This was a sexual stimulant used by cattle breeders to encourage reluctant stud bulls to get busy and do their work. Hard to believe! Spanish Fly was also considered an aphrodisiac among tittering college boys bent on dreams of conquest. Earlier a couple of friends and I had gone to a pharmacy in nearby Lebanon (we didn’t want to be recognized locally) and asked for cantharidin, somehow expecting the pharmacist to be naive enough to let us have some. His response, “Whatsa matter, can’t you get a hard on?” devastated us. We slouched out and went back to college with our heads and other appendages hanging low.
- This is from a 2010 obituary for Stanford Chemistry Professor Dr. Eugene van Tamelen:
Dr. van Tamelen liked being different and he liked being first, colleagues said, and the problems he worked on had to be big ones, typically involving molecules much more complex than anyone had been able to make before.
While he was a graduate student at Harvard University working in the laboratory of chemist Gilbert Stork, Dr. van Tamelen played a key role in the total synthesis of cantharidin, the central ingredient of the notorious aphrodisiac Spanish Fly. That work is considered the first synthesis of a complex natural product in which the correct three-dimensional configuration of each atom was achieved.
- In the Friar’s Club Encyclopedia of Jokes, we find this Spanish fly joke attributed to Pearl Williams. She was a Jewish comedian for over 40 years from the 1940’s to 1985. She produced nine party albums filled with risqué jokes. She apparently told this me at the Friar’s Club, a club for comedians, sometime between 1950 and her retirement in 1984:
A man struck up a conversation with an attractive woman at the bar, and when she went to the ladies room, he beckoned the bartender to come over. “Listen, I’d really like to get lucky with this girl,” he explained, “but I think I’m going to need a little help. Got any Spanish Fly to put in her drink?”
We’re out of Spanish Fly, but I can let you have some Jewish Fly for half the price,” said the bartender.
Jewish Fly? Never heard of it,” admitted the horny guy. “But I’ll give it a shot if you recommend it.” So he paid for the little packet and poured the contents into her cocktail.
Sure enough, the woman grew friendlier by the sip. Halfway through the drink, she began holding his hand, and by the time the glass was empty, she was stroking his thigh.
“What say we get out of this joint? She whispered in his ear.
“Great!” he replied with a gulp “Where to?”
“We’ll pick up my mother, go shopping, and talk about medical school.”
- From the The Austin weekly statesman., March 07, 1889, Page 7, “It is said that Drake, when the ships of the Armada turned their sails sent to Elizabeth the word “Cantharides” – that is, “the Spanish fly.””
 National Enquirer, Feb 14, 2005.
 “I spy” 82 episodes (1 hour), “the Bill Cosby Show” 52 episodes (1/2 hour), “The New Bill Cosby Show” 12 episodes (1 hour), “Cos” 4 episode (1 hour), “the Cosby Show” 197 episodes (1/2 hour), “the Cosby Mysteries” 17 episodes (1 hour), “Cosby” 95 episodes (1/2 hour), “You Bet Your Life” approximately 180 (1/2 hour), “the Electric Company” 260 appearances, see http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001070/
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 Maher, Bill, the New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass, Penquin, published Nov 14, 2011.
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 (Ben Franklin and E. Sargent, Select Works of Benjamin Franklin, Boston, Phillips, Samson and Company, 18 5, pg. 304 “Letter to Miss Stevenson,” June 11, 1760.
 John Buncle’s Panegyric on the Spanish Fly, Harry B. Weiss, Journal of the New York Entomological Society Vol. 38, No. 1 (Mar., 1930) , pp. 49-51 Published by: New York Entomological Society, Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25004348
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 When a criminal female named Spanish Fly threatens to contaminate the city water with aphrodisiacs, it is up to a duo of attractive female police officers to stop her.
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