Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Name Game Part Two

Tuesday David Brooks' column sparked some thoughts on burlesque names. In the comments to that post Brett wondered about the fun stories behind some performers' names and Miss Jezebel explained that her name was in honor of Bette Davis.

So in part two of the name game I thought I'd share how Marie Van Schaack became Lili St. Cyr. As Lili explained it, she chose her first name because it "evoked mystery and intrigue ... There had already been Lillie Langtry and Diamond Lil.” For a while she used different last names depending on where she was performing. She was known as Lili Fehnova in San Francisco, Lili LaRue in Las Vegas, and Lili LaBang in San Diego. But then, after reading about the St. Cyr military academy in France and pondering the success of millionaire Rex St. Cyr, she finally settled on Lili St. Cyr. The last name fit for other reasons. Lili ditched much of the tongue-in-cheek irreverence and satire of her burlesque predecessors. Her routines were far more straight forward. Her name said it all: St. Cyr was sincere, her acts were honest in their sexuality, overt in their glamour.

Know any good stories about how a burlesque performer chose his or her name? Leave 'em in the comments.


Paris Green said...

The Burlesque Forum had a discussion topic on this a little while ago:

I'll re-post what I wrote there:

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.

Kara Mae said...

Hi Kelly. awesome blog. Never saw it until recently.
If you hotlink images from my website, please at least include a link to it (
as web hosting is not free and I'd like my galleries to be seen!