There comes a time in a girl’s adolescent life, when she works out her stripper name. For me, this was in high school during a conversation with a couple of friends during double science. Formulated using the name of your first pet and your mother’s maiden name, its all a bit of harmless fun – though having never been allowed a pet as a child (apart from the sea monkeys I hid up in my bedroom for a couple of months that don’t really count as pets anyway, do they?) it made the whole process a little harder! When it comes to choosing your burlesque name, however, the process is a little more complex. When choosing my own name, I had to find something that was not only unique and catchy, but would represent my style of burlesque on stage too. In some ways, the hardest part is committing to a stage name for the entirety of your burlesque career, before you’ve even made your debut performance. Will you be the same person in six months? Two years? Five? I’d toyed with the idea of burlesque for about a year before I started taking lessons, when I’d been asked if I’d join a troupe for the London Fringe in 2010. Although nothing eventually came of the proposal, I’d adopted the name Lacey Strange as an alterego, who did make a few public appearances before a REAL 18 year old American named Lacey Strange faced charges of vehicular manslaughter after killing a pedestrian. The name suddenly (understandably) had no appeal anymore – so it was back to the drawing board. The name Raven had been floating around in my head for many months by this point, but it took me another 9-10 weeks to find my last name, going through Rose (common), Fury (already taken) and many others before settling on Six. Eventually, the name came from the same inspiration as my first act: the Tower of London. I’ve not visited for many years, but I remember being fascinated by the ravens in the tower and have always harboured a love for ancient architecture and flying. Suddenly it all fitted into place. Having finally settled on an appropriate name for my alterego, it got me thinking about burlesque names in general. I was really intrigued by the naming process and decided to ask other performers how they came up with their stage names. Here are a couple of the answers I got on Facebook.
“My great grandmother’s name was Aurora and my mum and granny are Rose, so I toyed with that as a surname, but its a very common burlesque name. My friend suggested Galore, and I went with that because it had a rhyming quality and suited my character more.” ~ Aurora Galore
“Mine comes from my time spent travelling in America – I went to New Orleans where on a rather wild night out I stumbled upon a ‘Hurricane’ cocktail which coincidently contains ‘Havana’ rum! I loved the name Havana and wanted a big personality name which I felt it matched, I really liked the alliteration too. It’s nice now that everytime someone mentions my name it reminds me of my time travelling 🙂 .. although I’m trying to forget most of the antics that night! ~ Havana Hurricane
The greatest thing – and also why I think it is so hard to choose a name – is that the burlesque industry is so liberal and allows for freedom of expression. Whether you’re inspired by a love of medicine (Anna Fur Laxis) or a bus stop in Croydon (Shirley Windmill), the key element is that its personal to you, whatever that link might be. Featured below are some handy tips for coming up with ideas… Grab a pen and paper and start thinking about what makes you unique as a character. Are you into baking? Do you enjoy old films? Are you a keen traveller? Write a list of words that reflect your hobbies and interests. For example, if you’re into baking you might have words like cupcake, rolling pin, flour, sugar, baker, pinny, tin, cherry, icing, recipe…. you might also have some names of your favourite treats, like cherry bakewell (yes, that name is taken!) You might find something instantly strikes you as a good name, or could be manipulated into one. If at first you don’t succeed, pick up a thesaurus. The great thing about the English language is that there are so many words for the same thing. Find a word you like – lets use the colour pink for example – and enter this into an online thesaurus. This particular search gives you blush, coral, flush, fuchsia, and rose. You could even go further and repeat the process again with these new words if you don’t find something straight away. Oh, and if all else fails, you could try the Burlesque Name Generator. Its full of quite cliché names, but its a good starting point. Some of my favourites it has churned out are Crystal Whispers (currently available), Pussy Sitwell (taken) and Walla Walla Wanda (which is apparently the name of a racehorse!). Once you’ve chosen a name, Google it. You should also Google every spelling variation (and spelling mistake!) you can think of just in case another performer is already using that name. There is nothing worse than finding out a year in you’re performing under the same name, because etiquette rules that the first person to the name gets to keep it! To make sure you don’t waste time rebranding and rebuilding your persona, you should also check with Equity and Spotlight if the names are already registered in their name database.Photo by Tigz Rice Studios. Model: Bettsie Bon Bon