Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Mattress Actress

Posted by Elyse Bruce on May 31, 2013

WARNING:
THE FOLLOWING POST MAY NOT BE
SUITABLE FOR MINORS DUE TO CONTENT.

Recently, a talk show radio host on WOKI in Knoxville, TN referred to a certain woman (who had spent a period of time as one of two former live-in girlfriends of Charlie Sheen back when he went off on a tangent a couple of years ago) as a mattress actress.  The idiom is sometimes considered synonymous with gold digger but with far more adult content.  In other words, a mattress actress is a female who fakes certain kinds of pleasure in exchange for financial gain or celebrity recognition.

On February 1, 2011, radio station 105.5 JYY in Gilford, New Hampshire reported on what they referred to as Sheen-anigans.  After having a go at the at-home rehab Charlie Sheen claimed he was undergoing, they took on another aspect of the actor’s life with this bit of information:

Mattress actress Kacey Jordan was on “Good Morning America” yesterday, talking about the so-called “porn family” that Charlie Sheen wanted to set up in a rented mansion in his neighborhood.  Kacey said Charlie just wanted to retire and spend his time partying with her and any other porno minxes he could convince to live there.

Kelly Gellatly, Senior Assistant Curator (Australian Photography) wrote “Re-take: Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Photography” which can be found on the National Gallery of Australia website.  The article appears to have been written in 1999.  Near the end of the article, the following can be found:

Deacon’s mock video cover Peach Blossom’s Revenge 1995 (a Mattress Actress Production) is a tongue-in-cheek satire of American war or mercenary-type action films that explores the positioning and objectification of the black female body in photography and film.

In 1993, Sophie Frank wrote and published a book entitled, “The Mattress Actress.”  The story is about a prostitute by the name of Ruby and her childhood friend who also works in the sex trade, Anita.  When Ruby’s violent ex-husband starts making death threats against them, the two women turn to an unlikely source for protection.

However, despite Idiomation’s efforts to find an earlier source than this for the idiom, the idiom remained elusive.  Idiomation can only believe that Sophie Frank coined the expression in 1993.  Of course, if that is incorrect, please feel free to provide proof of its earlier use along with the year.

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