I Had Crabs in Acting School

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Way back when I was a recent college graduate, I actually took acting classes on a whim, going once a week to study with William Hickey at HB Studios in the Village.

Hickey was the brilliant actor who played the drunk in the original The Producers and who went on to get Oscar-nominated for a very sharp, career-defining turn in Prizzi's Honor.

And he was a grand teacher, urging us to find genuine feeling and apply it to the roles (a message he conveyed even more strongly after he'd sip his cup of "tea" laced with lots of booze).

Hickey generally gave me good reviews, until the day I came in with a scene from a Sam Shepard play in which my character had crabs.

I proceeded to gleefully dig my hand into my pants for the whole scene and scratch away as if scratching a bitchy drag queen's eyes out.

Hickey was appalled. "What you did up there was like masturbating in public," he announced as I decided to follow journalism.

I didn't realize acting teachers could be so prudish. I was simply following the text!

I started wishing I had actually masturbated because at least that would have been pleasurable.

Before I ran off to cry myself to an eternal sleep, he did give me a useful criticism:

"You scratched a lot, but you never felt the itch."

And that's why I didn't pursue acting. I could never feel the itch.

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