Identity Crisis

updated 03/29/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

HE MAY NOT KNOW MICH ABOUT ACTING, but Jaye Davidson does understand the element of surprise. His debut performance in The Crying Game contains what was—before the secret got out, anyway—a moment of icy-pure cinematic shock. Then came the news that Davidson had received an Oscar nomination (or that supporting role. Good grief! How would this cutting-edge character come dressed to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 29? Which Jaye would Davidson be?

Finally, at an antifur party held on March 13 in a gay London nightclub called Heaven, the 25-year-old Britisher hinted at how he may shock the world on Oscar night: by not showing up. "I'm not sure I'm going," he said peevishly. "There are many things to be considered."

One thing Davidson may be considering is the marketing of The Crying Game. The offbeat British thriller, which cost less than $5 million to make, has already earned more than $38 million, and its U. S. distributor, Miramax, has been working hard to simultaneously hype and keep a lid on the "secret" that it sees as the key to the film's success. One report—denied by Miramax—said the company had whisked Davidson off to Egypt, presumably to keep him quiet.

At the Fur Is a Drag party, Davidson, who wore a dowdy Bermuda shorts outfit, did admit to having been in Cairo recently but mostly remained silent as the Sphinx. "I'm not doing interviews," he said. "I hate publicity."

In that, Davidson seems sincere. One of three children, he was born in California but raised in rural Hertfordshire, England, by his Ghanaian father, now deceased, and his white British mother, whom he has described as "a businesswoman." In his mid-teens he went to work as a hairdresser's helper in London and later assisted clothing designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed Princess Di's wedding dress. He fell into The Crying Game when a casting agent saw him at a party in 1990 and asked him to screen-test.

Where does Davidson go from here? Out the back door of Heaven and into the night. "To me, an Oscar nomination is irrelevant," Davidson says. What a guy

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