When it comes to theme songs, the one most often associated with entertainer Bill Cosby is the head-nodding, bass-heavy, jive-vibey song from his “Fat Albert” show.
“Hey hey hey, it’s Faaaaaat Albert!
Naaa, naaa, naaa, gonna have a good time!”
But one performer has put her own twist on those lyrics and set them to a thumping beat in a new song. The tune is part protest of the controversial comedian and part tribute to the more than 50 women who have accused him of drugging and sexually assaulting them over four decades.
“Hey Hey Hey!
It’s a COS Party!
Grab some rape juice for everybody!
Hey Hey Hey!
I’ll slip you a pill!
So you cannot move, just call me Bill!”
Nicolle Rochelle, who performs as Modern GEAIsha, recently penned and recorded the song, which she calls “Hey Hey Hey” and posted on SoundCloud.
If her name sounds familiar, it’s because Rochelle is the actress who enlivened the first day of Cosby’s retrial last week when she hurdled the police barricade around the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, tore off her shirt and coat in front of stunned press photographers, and displayed her topless torso painted with the names of Cosby’s accusers.
Rochelle, 38, a New Jersey native who now lives in Paris and an actress who appeared on “The Cosby Show” five times when she was 12, said she was inspired to write the song after Cosby’s first trial last summer.
” ‘Hey Hey Hey’ is a song I specifically started writing last June after watching a video of Bill Cosby comfortably walking from the courthouse and casually saying ‘Hey, hey, hey!’ to his fans in an obvious attempt to gain sympathy, remind people of his career highlights, and appear to be the friendly father figure that most of the world always thought he was before the allegations,” Rochelle told WHYY Tuesday.
“I felt disgusted that Cosby would try to play on the public’s emotions in this way, trying to present himself as something he is not — a friend — while continuing to deny something that he is — a predator. With this one phrase, he seemed to be laughing in all the victims’ faces, even taunting them,” she said.
“It was this arrogant attitude that really pissed me off, as the daughter of a rape survivor and as a human being, and I wanted to express my anger about the situation in my art.”
Her goal: To empower the women who say Cosby sexually assaulted them.
“I had hoped it would be something they could relate to and feel supported and empowered by, as if they themselves were speaking to Cosby,” she said, adding that she has this message for Cosby’s alleged victims: “You are not alone. Whether we have been through the exact same pain and struggle as you have or not, there are women out there who hear you loud and clear, who support you, who are rooting for you and who are fighting for you.”
Rochelle belongs to the international feminist group Femen, whose members have protested, globally and sometimes topless, against groups and people they believe oppress women.
After her protest outside Cosby’s retrial, deputies tackled her into a hedge, took her briefly into custody, and cited her for disorderly conduct, a summary offense akin to a traffic ticket. Critics have wondered whether she set out to influence the jury or juice up her career. Instead, she said, she aimed to “redefine” women’s often-sexualized bodies as a political tool — and she feels like she accomplished her mission.
Activist Bird Milliken said Rochelle sent her the song, and she posted it on a “We Support the Survivors of Bill Cosby” Facebook page she moderates.
“I nearly did a backflip in my chair,” Milliken said, of her first listen. “I love the power and confidence in her voice and beat, and she expressed numerous sentiments about Bill Cosby that others can identify with and rally behind. She took initiative in this musical expression, and I can completely identify with her feeling compelled into action, despite being a ‘lone wolf.’ ”
Milliken added: “People think one person can’t make a difference, and I completely disagree. One person can make a difference, and we’re seeing that here.”
Milliken knows that well. At Cosby’s first trial in the summer, Milliken mounted her own musical protest, circling laps around the courthouse blasting Helen Reddy’s female-empowerment anthem “I Am Woman” from a megaphone.
“I’m overjoyed about the opportunity to combine forces to change the laws and social climate for women globally,” Milliken said of supporting Rochelle’s musical effort.