FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND THE LISA BONET LOOK

In the years since I first laid eyes on Lisa, there had been the film Angel Heart, a horror/thriller in which Lisa starred with Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro. Lisa played a voodoo priestess, who dances around with her breasts hanging out of her dress. I’m sure there was more to it, but I wasn’t really paying attention to anything else. She also had a rather vivid love scene with Mickey Rourke. Mickey made passionate love to her as blood dripped from the ceiling. That damn Mickey Rourke! After I saw that movie, I didn’t know whether I wanted to sock his smelly ass in the jaw or give him a high-five. Following the film, Lisa left The Cosby Show to star on A Different World. (There were all kinds of rumors that Lisa had been fired from The Cosby Show because she made the very erotic Angel Heart. The only problem with that rumor is that Angel Heart was shot in 1986 and she began work on A Different World in 1987. If Bill was so angry with her, why did he give her a spin off?) There were stories of Lisa throwing tantrums on the set of A Different World, not showing up on time, basically behaving like a brat. Finally, there was her marriage to Romeo Blue/Lenny Kravitz, and her pregnancy, which resulted in her leaving  A Different World. I knew about that last part. When Lisa married Lenny, I drowned my shattered hopes in strong drink and sad music.

The point is that there had hardly been anything positive about Lisa in the media. I made the mistake of making this point in an interview I did with the grocery store rag, Star Magazine.

It may have been all of a week after I was hired when Star Magazine called me on the phone. I have to confess, I had never heard of Star. I had also only once before given an interview for a magazine – Soap Opera World. Couple that with the fact that I have a big mouth, and you have trouble in the making. Much to my girlfriend Corey’s horror, I began to talk. Corey knew what Star was and shook her head warning me, “No! Don’t talk to them.” Corey was very level-headed. Her good sense was one of the qualities about her that I admired. But I got on a roll and kept on talking. The more I talked the wider her eyes got and her gesticulations became more dramatic. She looked as if she was doing jumping jacks in the middle of our living room. “Shut up!” she kept signing to me. I didn’t listen. I waved her off and got comfortable. I ran my mouth for another good 15 minutes.

I don’t think I said anything really awful. In describing my excitement in working with Lisa, I believe I said something like, “I’ve heard horror stories about her.” Which I had. In hindsight, I guess I could have phrased that just a bit more gracefully. Needless to say, Lisa was insulted.

After the paper came out, I ran into Lisa, Lenny, and baby Zoe in the hallway.

“HORROR STORIES?” Lisa belted out.

“I am so sorry,” I begged. That’s how our relationship began, with me standing in the hallway, babbling apologies like an idiot, while she stood with her arms crossed, looking like she had sucked on a lemon. Happily, we got over that little bump.

I truly wish I could write that following that little misunderstanding, Lisa and I began a torrid, backstage love affair, which resulted in her becoming pregnant with our love child. Alas, nothing so salacious, (or fun) developed between us. The truth is so much more mundane. I liked Lisa very much and I think she liked me, even if she didn’t quite get my sense of humor. We didn’t become great friends, but we got along well enough and worked relatively well with each other. We were also a great looking television couple, if I do say so myself. And I do.

Lisa was, and as far as I know still is, a flower child. I don’t mean that in any pejorative sense. I mean that Lisa was earthy. She was a vegan; she only ate with wood or with her fingers; she didn’t believe in vaccinations; she didn’t drink water from the tap; she wore flowery, hippie clothing. Lisa just had a funky style that was all her own. I respected it, even if I sometimes had fun with it.

For instance, one afternoon we were sitting on the famous Huxtable living room sofa, talking. The topic of water came up. Lisa was adamant that tap water was filled with poisons and that it was only safe to drink bottled water.

“Lisa,” I said. “New York water is some of the best water in the country.”

“No way, man.”

“It was on the news. They’ve done studies.”

“They’re lying to you, man. They’re lying about the water.”

“So, you only drink bottled water?”

“It’s the only water that’s safe!”

I smiled. “Well, you know,” I offered, “Evian spelled backwards is naïve.”

Lisa looked at me. “No, it’s not.” (Clearly, she wasn’t a great speller.)

I looked at her sadly. “Yes. Yes, it is.”

I think that may have been the very first time she gave me “the look.” Whenever I said things that she thought were crazy, she would kind of tilt her head a bit, squint her eyes a little, and curl her lips ever so slightly. It was as if she were thinking, “Why am I even talking to you?” I called it the “Lisa Bonet Look.” I loved that look. That look tickled me to no end. I would say outrageous things to her with a completely straight face, just so I could see that look.

Another afternoon, we were again between scenes, sitting on the Huxtable sofa, just talking. Once again, the conversation drifted to some serious subject. If you have had in your mind that Lisa was a flake, I will tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong. The Lisa Bonet I knew was no shallow fool. Lisa had serious things on her mind and we talked about them. That particular afternoon it was circumcision. Lisa didn’t believe boys should be circumcised. Of course, I began to argue that not only should boys be allowed to be circumcised, but that it should be mandatory for boys to be circumcised.

“What? Why would you say that?” Lisa was incredulous.

“Because it’s good for boys. It teaches them a good lesson.”

“What kind of lesson could a baby learn from mutilation?” She sat up straight. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“Because,” I insisted. “It teaches boys that they need to protect their balls at all times!”

Ding ding ding! I got “The Look.”

Next…Welcomed into the Huxtable family


About Author

Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips was born on January 17, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, USA as Joseph Connor Phillips. He is an actor, known for General Hospital (1994), The Cosby Show (1984) and Strictly Business (1991). He has been married to Nicole since 1994. They have three children.

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