Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Name Game

This morning, David Brooks got me thinking about names. I'm sure the New York Times reporter meant for me to consider my own, but the names that came to mind were Kalani Kokonuts, Lucy Fur and Immodesty Blaize

Burlesque names seem to fall into several categories. There are those that hint at the performer's body in some way -- Fanny Tastic, Trixie Little, Jo Boobs. Some names like Dita Von Teese and Michelle L'Amour play to the desired effect. There are lots of food-related names -- Candy Barr, Della Delicious, Bonbon Vivant. And some that are simply fun whether it's because of a double entendre or how it rolls off the tongue -- Lola Pearl, Panty Raid, Harvest Moon, Lux LaCroix.

And if like me, you've had trouble coming up with a suitable burlesque name there's a name generator which spits out things like Ginger Spice, Antoinette Parfait, Caresse Frou-Frou, Miss Ecstasy Deluxe, Vivienne diVine.


Brett said...

I'm interested in hearing opinions about the burlesque name generator, though, because to me, it seems like such a cop-out! Isn't part of the fun and excitement of creating a stage identity, or a theatrical persona for yourself as a performer, to come up with a stage name that means something personal to you? Looking at your list of wonderful examples, they're all distinctive, and not generic at all-I guarantee there's a fun story behind each of them (I know some of them already!) and that's certainly a reflection on the quality of each of those terrific performers! And truly unique names get picked up in the press more often! Picking a stage name from a randomizer seems like picking a tattoo pattern off the wall of the studio to me; too cookie cutter. I certainly don't want to offend any body! But I'm curious what do other people think?

Heidi Von Haught said...

I think the name generator is fun to give you ideas, but overall, you gotta pick something out yourself. It has to feel right on you and express your own personality. Are you a femme fatalle or a cutey pants? Totally raunchy or demure? It makes it much more fun when it works with you.

Zeugma said...

I go back and forth on it... I've had students SO stumped by names that I've sent them there (and to gstringsforever and MoB) for examples of names already in use. I usually tell them NOT to pick something straight from the list, as there are probably ten of it floating around anyway. But sometimes people need a list of things that already exist to feel comfortable going out on a limb and picking their own... I've never had a student pick a name straight from the generator, but I've definitely had some inspired by it, and I think that's fine.

In some ways, it's a drawing board and a way for people to feel less panicked about coming up with ideas. When I brainstorm, I always look at what's already out there for inspiration in creating something new, and sometimes you can take inspiration from different things and combine them to make something fab.

Case in point: I actually got my own 'last' name from a friend who was making fun of the names she found on the generator. "Who would ever pick HRH Sparklepanties or Madame Chairwoman Express for a burlesque name?" she scoffed. "Those aren't even sexy."

At the time I was going by "Miss Jezebel" (in honour of Bette Davis), but I wanted a last name, and I'd been casting about for a word that complimented as "Jezebel" and had found nothing satisfactory. When she said that, I thought "Jezebel Express!", and it was perfect... it's actually still the only last name I can think of that fits the first name the way I want it to. I hesitated initially, because having 'found' a last name instead of having it handed down on high from Sally Rand herself felt like cheating... but I couldn't deny that it was exactly what I'd been looking for, and so I went with it. I also had some personal reasons for loving the name to death (not the least of which is my Scrabble obsession... and if you know what I mean by that, we should play.)

I worried about having a generic last name, but after extensive googling, I figured out that no one was actually using "Express" anyway. -shrugs-. I wouldn't pick an entire name randomly off a list, but having found a last name I love on a list doesn't make it any less perfect for me or my character.

I've seen the names of several other real performers on it anyway, albeit chopped into bits (you can make Fifi Dupree, Ophelia Flame, Kitten("Kitty" on the site) De Ville, Dirty Martini and probably several others from the firsts and lasts listed), which makes me wonder about the source material for the generator (and makes it all the less usable for someone looking for an original name). That said, certain references are easy 'ins': foreign names, cutesy/pet names, biblical and historical references. But for me, the way you twist a traditional name can be just as clever and effective as a pun or something with deep personal significance.

Anonymous said...

I think the name generator is great to get your juices (thinking juices) flowing. However in the end you need to find a name that suits your style.

Luv and kisses
Cherry Rose

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