Want to join the club of anonymous performers and create a stage name? Read on to find out the "dos and don'ts" about choosing your very own stage persona!
If I could get a quarter for ever time I get asked about stage names, I'd still be a poor strip tease artist. BUT they are crucial to our art form, and can make or break you as a performer.
Stage names allow strip tease artists to keep anonymity, as most of us lead double lives (it's incredibly rare to make a living just off burlesque). Yes, even in this day in age burlesque can still be classified as taboo. Many employers and clients would still frown upon the art of striptease, so creating an avatar is a way to safeguard your privacy. However, stage names serve more of a purpose than just something to hide behind. They define your character, your dance style and even your ego.
Before picking a stage name, the three main questions you need to ask yourself are:
Are you a 'classic' style burlesque performer? Or are you leaning more towards something a bit different? Or do you want to traverse multiple styles?
What are your key personality traits on stage? Are you silly? Dramatic? Dark? Corny? Camp? Sexy? Terrifying? Bubbly?
Is this just for fun or are you looking to use it professionally?
By identifying what "style" of performer you want to be, and how you want to use it, will greatly narrow down your options.
Obviously, if this is just for fun at a hens party or as a stage kitty, go for whatever name you want! But if you're thinking of taking this name professionally, there are a number of considerations you have to make. We'll get into the nitty-gritty bits, but first..
LET'S EXPLORE HOW TO PICK A NAME!
Traditionally, burlesque names comprise of a first and last name. I.E. Maple Rose, Tempest Storm, Bettie Page, Poppy Cherry, etc. By having 2 names it allows you to become personable - as most people in real life have 2 or 3 names. They are also usually feminine, floral, flirty and fun.
A few fun ways to create a stage name are:
The Stripper name game: the name of your first pet and the name of the first street you lived on. (ed. note: Poppy's would be Mickey Vernon!)
Falling down the rabbit hole of online stripper name generators (This one is fun)
Choosing a childhood nickname
Your favourite dessert
Your favourite Cocktail
Your favourite colour and play with the synonyms of different shades (like Chartreuse, Indigo, etc)
Your favourite animal
Thinking phonetically and copying the sounds of your real name
A recognisable word in another language (i.e. Bella, Amore, etc)
Use a THESAURUS! Remember those personality traits you identified? Find their synonyms! See where they'll take you.
Mix a few of these together! Shove a short word with a long word and see how it sounds. Explore ideas, play with it and see what creative ideas you can come up with.
But consider that it's also ok to use your real name! If you don't need to worry about creating an avatar and can enter the burlesque world as the real you, then just use it! Some are super blessed to have the perfect stage name as their legal name, like Imogen Kelly, Zelia Rose, Sheena Misdemeanour, and Kelly-Ann Doll.
Otherwise, you can be BOLD and stick with 1 name! Like Medianoche, Scarlett, Raven, Madonna.
BUT THE KEY THING IS......YOU MUST GOOGLE YOUR CHOSEN NAME BEFORE YOU GO PERFORM WITH IT!!!
It's an absolute "No-No" to copy someone else's name, or have something incredibly similar to a performer who already exists! It can be a breach of copyright, and on top of that, they've already put in a lot of time, money and effort into creating this persona. A lot of professional performers also trademark their name or register it as a business - it's their brand and it's in very poor taste to take that away from them.
We are lucky in Australia as we have an Australian Burlesque Name Database hosted by The Bombshell Burlesque Academy. It's always good to do a quick search in here to see if anything is similar. And once you debut your name on stage, you can add your name to the database too!
But don't just stop after you've googled Australian burlesque performers. A performer overseas may have something similar, and then you'd both be in a jiffy if say either you toured overseas or they came here to tour. It'd be a bit awkward if you were both on the same bill!
So DO YOUR RESEARCH! Google, Instagram, Facebook, ask your teachers, ask your peers - get as many opinions as you can to avoid stepping on anyone's toes. But this also goes for getting ideas! I know I personally struggle with fun word-plays, so getting advice always helps to find that perfect name without settling on something that is just wrong and doesn't fit.
Here are some handy hints to get you started:
1. Try to stay away from anything too cliche! Yes, it's nice to join the club of Burlesque Performers with the classic floral names, but it's 2019! Let's explore our individuality! Just think about the amount of amateur strip tease artists, drag queens, drag kings, etc. They've all gone down this exact same road trying to find their perfect name. So think out of the box! Think original! Be unique and stick with something personal to you!
2. Try to avoid puns and sexy play-on-words, as these are usually associated with Drag Queens (i.e Penny Traytion, Mini Cooper, Sharyn Needles, Courtney Act). They're fun and cheeky, and IF you are planning on crossing into both art forms then totally go for it! But again, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Don't just steal a drag queen's name, and to be honest, a lot of them have been DONE TO DEATH!
So have fun! Ask around! Get opinions! Lovely Poppy Cherry and Frenchie Holiday in the office are AMAZING at creating characters - feel free to ask for help.
and remember.... DO YOUR RESEARCH!