"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - Romeo & Juliet
Words by Eva Devore | Photography by Eva Devore & Etienne Reynaud
There comes a time in many performer's journeys where they start to think about a stage name. Performers will often use a different name while they are on stage, as well as on their social media or at events. There are many reasons you might want to use a stage name. Some performers wish to keep their identity a secret, and have some privacy separation from their normal life and their performance persona. This is especially important if their day job would be affected by prejudice against some art forms, like pole dancing or stripping, for example. It can also help keep performers safe from unsavoury people reaching out to them, and help prevent harassment or stalking in their every day life.
Other performers find that a stage name helps them get into character and feel more confident. Creating a stage name can almost be like slipping into another persona, one that is a more confident, comfortable and extroverted version of yourself. Many people find that their stage name helps them to do things that they normally wouldn't be able to do, like dance in front of a crowd, or perform a striptease!
To start coming up with a stage name, try following these steps;
To start off with, think about type of name and the sorts of themes you would like to use for your stage name. You may want to use one word, or have a first and last name. Make a note of the themes you like, such as flowers, animals, gemstones or cocktail names, and start to brainstorm as many words as you can think of. Google searches can be a great help when creating your lists! If you're stuck for a starting point, you can always ask a friend what comes to mind when they think about you!
Once you've got your lists, it's time to start narrowing them down. Go through the list and circle the words that you really like the sound of. Try saying them out loud as you go too, as some words look lovely on paper, but aren't quite right out loud! If you want both a first and last name, you can start to match up names and see what words you like together.
Make sure to check that your name choice is original- you don't want the same name as another performer! Try doing a Google search of the name and the dance style, i.e. "Eva Devore Burlesque" to see if anyone else is using it. The Burlesque Name Directory is also a great resource!
Try and narrow your list down to one or two names that you like. Once you've got the names, you need to let them sit for a little while to see if it's something you really love and are ready to commit to! Saying the name aloud and asking friends to try calling you by it will help you to "try it on."
Remember, a new name will take a little bit of time to get used to. It may feel a little bit funny to be called by a different name at first, but with time, you'll get used to it and it will become as much a part of you as your birth name!
Stage Name Etiquette
When meeting and interacting with performers who use stage names, there are a few rules of etiquette you should follow. If a performer introduces themselves to you as their stage name, then that is what you should always call them, unless they give you permission to call them by a different name. This applies even if you do know their personal name! Not only is it the polite thing to do, but you are also respecting the privacy and safety of the performer!
Similarly, a performer's stage persona may be a different gender to the gender they present in their every day life. In this instance, you should refer to the performer using the pronouns that their character uses, when they are presenting as their performance persona. A great example of this is that many drag queens prefer "she/her" pronouns when they are in drag, just at drag kings usually prefer "he/him" pronouns. If you aren't sure which to use, don't be afraid to respectfully ask!