A local burlesque school is holding its graduation show in a few weeks and half of the new performers have chosen stage names already in use by established burlesque performers. What is the proper way to handle this situation?

This is a tough one. Issues with stage names have been coming up almost weekly lately. I tell my students that commonality--a name that is the same as or too similar to existing names--is a real detriment to their career potential. I think it's fair to let them know!

Here's a document I'm working on to help students avoid difficulties with their names. It's open to comments and suggestions! I welcome critique of this, descriptions of names you like, and madeup examples of names you don't like, as long as you say why ("It's self-explanatory" really isn't.)


It can be very confusing to come up with a stage name. New performers want their names to sound burlesquey, but they risk coming up with a name that will make them blend in with the crowd. If they try to hard to avoid blending in with the crowd, they run the risk of having too difficult of a name. However, chances are good that if they come up with a name that feels more personal, they'll avoid most of the pitfalls.

The following is not a critique of existing names! If your name breaks the rules below, we don't care. This is a guide for folks who are coming up with new stage names to avoid potential issues among those who already have stage names.

Our goal is not to make you conform but to help you avoid conforming, and not to make you less offensive but to help you get as many gigs as possible.

None of this applies to names you had before you got to burlesque. If you were born Kitten Lola Martini Von L'Amour, so be it.

Problem: Commonality.
Definition: Having a name that is too common or is likely to get you confused with someone else.
Examples: Kitty, Cherry, Lulu, and similar. Lamour, Martini, Deville, and similar.
Reasons to avoid: If someone googles looking for you, someone who has had a similar name longer will come up first and will get your gigs. Also, you'll get lost in the crowd.

Problem: Punnage.
Definition: Having a name that is a pun.
Example: Miss Behave.
Reasons to avoid: It is probably already in use, and if it isn't, it's probably too obscure.

Problem: Difficulty.
Definition: Having a name that is hard to spell, pronounce, or hear correctly.
Examples: Kayrain Kadylllackk, Saoirse (unless you're actually Irish), etc.
Reasons to avoid: You will be repeatedly annoyed when your name is spelled wrong on promo, mispronounced by MCs, and misheard by audience members. Because you are constantly annoyed by the results of something that is your own doing, fewer people will like you.


Ask me anything about Burlesque!


Sabina said…
Good points. Obviously no one wants to hear that a name they've no doubt carefully chosen is already in use, but it's better to find out sooner rather than later.
Burlesque said…
Love you for this blog, Jo ! :D

Miss Anne Thropy
Burlesque said…
Love you Jo <3

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