Burlesque Stage Names: Part 1

The dilemma of what the call oneself when performing is one that has faced all of us at some point, performers new and seasoned. Few performers use their real names onstage and if they do, it’s rarely their whole name and usually just a part of it or an adaptation.
So how do you choose a name for your burlesque persona? This is a question we’ve been hearing a lot lately, so we decided to put together a blog looking at the inspiration behind stage monikers, offering some tips on the most commonly-over-used words / names out there (ie ones to avoid!) and some ideas on how to go about finding that all-important alias.

Of course there are no set rules, and if you were to ask different performers how they came up with their stage names, you’d be faced with a plethora of different stories. Some people adopt old nicknames, or variations on these, others come up with something entirely new. Some draw inspirations from things they love; books, characters, music, ideas, themes, colours, pets and much much more. It’s about choosing something that’s right for you.

Stage Name Pointers
1. Do your research; if you’ve got some ideas, get your sequinned butt onto Google and get searching. The last thing you want is to unwittingly adopt someone else’s persona.

2. In burlesque, there exists a pool of names which have become the go-to list. Unfortunately, this means that we’re swamped under a deluge of similar-sounding performer names, which just gets confusing! These include: Cherry, Kitty, Scarlet and Violet, to name just a few. Find something original that suits you; it’s the first step to getting noticed and will help you down the line – once your name starts appearing on flyers and posters, you’ll want it to stand out!

Once you start researching stage names, you’ll undoubtedly notice other trends, which we’ll look at in more detail below. Now, it’s OK to use these trends as a starting point, provided you apply rules 1 and 2 outlined above. Here are some of burlesque’s stage name trends…

The Play on Words Stage Name
For those of you partial to a witty pun or double-entendre, the idea of a play on words stage name could be the perfect choice. One of the UK’s biggest burlesque stars, Yorkshire beauty Anna Fur Laxis, utilises a play on words perfectly.

The Comedy Stage Name
Amusing stage names have been popular since the beginnings of burlesque and have the added bonus of garnering you a laugh before you’ve even taken to the stage, as well as being memorable. Leeds-based producer of the long-running Wet Spot Ryvita Von Cheese is a perfect example of this.

The Drink-Inspired Stage Name
Beverage-related stage names are nothing new, a popular source of burlesque (and showgirl /stripper) stage names since the Golden Era. The most famous contemporary cocktail-inspired burlesque lady has to be the infamous Dirty Martini (you can read more about her here in our Superstars series).

The Alliterative Stage Name
Alliteration in stage names is also a commonly used trick. They flow off the tongue in a smooth, satisfying way and are often catchy and easy to remember. Modern day burlesque performers who favour the alliterative moniker include: Missy Malone, Suzie Sequin, Vendetta Vain, Daiquiri Dusk, Kiki Kaboom, Bettsie Bon Bon and Havana Hurricane, to name but a few.

And so we come to the end of this week’s blog, we’ll continue our study of stage names and also take a look at choosing your tagline next week, so don’t forget to join us then. (Part 2 is now available here.)

In the meantime, if you’re looking for more beginner tips as a new performer, why not check out our Tricks of the Trade blog series?