Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

--From Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Burlesque stage names come in all shapes and sizes, just like the performers they're tagged to. From the punny, the sexy, the off-beat, the clever and the completely unique, stage names are one way that people transform themselves from their ordinary lives into their extraordinary lives onstage. How did you come to pick your stage name? Does it have a special meaning, other than the obvious?

And for those who are not on stage, but fans of the bump and grind - What goes into a great burlesque stage name? What are some of your favorite burly-q names?

8 comments:

Burlesque Daily said...

This will be another long one...

Since I've been doing a lot of interviews lately (I've got about a dozen half-edited), I've been asking a lot of performers this question. It's interesting how different the motivations of the legends were in choosing their names than the neo-burlesquers'. You'll see this in the interviews as they come up in the next few months.

In my case, I started performing after I had decided I wouldn't perform any more, and someone else had started using my old stage name, which was Tanya Hyde. I didn't want to be as focused on fetish elements as I had been, so I didn't mind not having the name any more.

However, I didn't think I was going to be performing as much as I am and didn't really think much about a name. I started back again at the Blue Angel. My business partner Whitney is married to a man named Joe, so I would walk into the office and she would say, "Jo just walked in," and the person on the other end of the line would say, "Tell him I said hello," and she'd say, "No, Jo Boobs." So Jo Boobs really means "Not Joe Coleman." Remy Vicious started introducing me as Jo Boobs onstage, and Angie Pontani put it on a flyer, and then it was my stage name. I had no idea I'd be performing and teaching like I am and end up known by my joke name that screws up spam filters! Luckily it's a name people LOVE to say and always remember. When you google it, you find me, not some other Jo Boobs.

I've come up with lots of other names. Demi Monde, Pepper Au Poivre, Fanny Fromage (which I use when I host the Follies Fromage), and my porn name, Mais Oui. I love stage names. But when people ask me how they should come up with a stage name, I have to say, "You're asking ME?"

Paris Green said...

My first burlesque name somebody else gave me. I didn't like it, it didn't suit me, so I got rid of it.

I wanted something subtle, that sounded like an actual person's name, but was, in fact, something deadly - hence Paris Green.

Paris Green is an extremely toxic poison. It was also used as a pigment in paints and fireworks because of its extremely bright green/greenish blue color. Impressionist painters were very fond of it; it was Cezanne's favorite color. (It is also strongly suspected to have caused Cezanne's diabetes, Monet's blindness and Van Gogh's madness.) It was also widely used in wallpaper designs, but would poison people once the room started to "breathe out" the arsenic in the pigment. Death by design...

People of a certain generation know what Paris Green is because it was widely used as an insecticide on crops (fruit, I think). Also, people in certain professions get it right away. Others don't, and I'm okay with it. I like that some people get what my stage name is and some just think it's a stage name.

Jack Midnight said...

My name came to me in chunks... I knew I wanted "Midnight" in my name, 'cuz we were doing a late night show. "Jack" just seemed to go with it. Then I was reading some old JSA comics with characters from WWII, and one was Hourman, "The Man of the Hour".

So I became The Man of the Hour, Jack Midnight.

We named our show, The Belmont Burlesque Revue, because our show started at the WNEP Theater (now the Playground Theater) on the corner of Halsted and Belmont. I liked the alliteration of Belmont Burlesque, and my partner-in-crime was adamant that our show have the word "revue" in it.

We have Second Cousin Joe in our show, and he's the second side-kick we've had for Jack. The first was Ken Manthey, who we named "Uncle Al" after my partner-in-crime's real-life uncle Al. When Ken left the show, our friend Chris was "Contest Winner Chris" for his try-out. When he became a permanent member of the cast, it was decided that the running joke was whoever was Jack's side-kick was a member of his family. So Second Cousin Joe was born.

I usually make up some of the tags for the girls... I came up with "The Pleasure Chest of the Midwest" for Paris Green, "The Risque Russian" for Naughty Natanya, and "The T-N-Teaser" for Tittie Touche. Back in the day, I came up with "The Ass that goes POW!" for Michelle L'Amour when she appeared at one of our earlier shows.

Penny Whistle said...

I'm horrible at names, so I let Mr.Whistle pick it. I like it--it fits my sweet/cute persona onstage.

xo
Penny Whistle
(myspace.com/misspennywhistle)

Zeugma said...

This is more a tag-line than a name, but Fifi Dupree goes by "The Curly-q of Burlycue" and I think it's adorable. I'd love a tag line, but I can't seem to come up with anything other than "All Aboard!" and few lame jokes about my caboose.

-sigh-

Toot toot.

Jezebel Express

Bixi Bite said...

My name comes from a rare gem stone bixbite (also known as red emerald or scarlet emerald.

I wanted to have something about my mouth in my stage name since people usually comment on my nice teeth. I wanted something kind of cutesy, kind of naughty, easy to remember and something nobody else would have. So that's what I came up with!

xoxo

Bixi Bite

cate said...

I've decided to start living my burlesque dream and am in dire need of a stage name ! every day i think of a name i kinda like then kick it out the door by the end of the day ... been playing name games ..etc . i want a name that is reminicent of how fiesty and petit i am . .. i just want my name so i can build the rest of my character / acts ! ;( definately could use some advice

Nichole Golinvaux said...

For the past 7 years I performed as the stage name Ivanna Spankyou. I created the persona and performed with a group called The Flaunt Girls. I recently left the group and they are claiming rights to the name saying it is part of the "script". They actually went so far as to give the name to a new performer so fans would stop associating me as Ivanna Spankyou. Obviously, I am enraged by this.....I have been performing as that stage name and worked very hard to market my burlesque character on facebook and have many followers. It appears to me that this is a major faux paus in the burlesque industry. I would love some advice, feedback etc. of how to manage this situation.

Spank you very much,
Ivanna Spankyou