I’ve been obsessed with blogs by sex workers, and in going through the archives of the lovely, talented, and–let’s be honest–fucking brilliant Mistress Matisse, I found one of the most cogent descriptions of the difference between “acting” and “performance” I’ve ever read:
(from October 27, 2004)
I’m a good performer. But I’m not a good actress. It’s rather like the difference between Tim Robbins and Jack Nicholson. Tim Robbins has played dozens of different types of roles – he’s a great actor. Now, Jack Nicholson is great, too, but whatever role he plays – he’s always Jack. He’s a performer, not an actor.
I’m like that. I can play me really well – but I can’t make myself disappear and be someone else. The persona of “Mistress Matisse” is a facet of who I truly am – so it’s very genuine. But it’s not divorced from the rest of me, and so in my sessions, I’m also (sometimes) kind, and I’m usually engaged. I don’t play the angry bitch with my clients, that’s not my style. Doesn’t mean I’m not sometimes severe and strict, if I wish to be, and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m not sadistic. I always tell people I’m the sweetest sadist you’ll ever meet.
Her succinctness should make all those self-important blathering theorists blush. (Actually, she should make them blush anyway–go read about figging.)