Forbidden names for new burlesque performers include Kitten, Kitty, Vixen and Honey, or anything with “Von” or “de Ville” or “Lux” or “Deluxe.” And, of course, Lolita. They’re overused, says Fannie Fuller, instructor at the Rose City School of Burlesque
. “And when you start you want to be like, ‘This is me.’”
Fuller knows this firsthand. As a burlesque ingenue in 2003, she went by Ruby Sparks—that is, until a fire dancer named Ruby Spark (“not Sparks,” Fuller emphasizes) came to a show ready to clock her. “I’ve been using 'Ruby Spark' forever and you better change your name!” Fuller recalls her screaming.
Some of the tips for crafting a good burlesque name include using cars (Continental, Coupe) or cocktails (Campari, Dubonnet) or asking a drag queen. As we go around pitching our names, one of the better ones is Keeta McKenna, after psychedelic philosopher Terence McKenna.
Another favorite: Goldie Bonanza, which prompts cheers from the class. Savannah Smackdown is pretty good, too.
One student who’s having trouble is trying to pair two words she likes: Honeysuckle and Origami. Honeysuckle is out, clearly, instructor Zora Phoenix says. But maybe Origami could turn into Aura Gami? “Is that too easy a pun?” she wonders.
As for me, I use the old-fashion method of finding my porn name, landing on Tag Wild. Tag was my first pet, a Border Collie when I was 5, and as the street I grew up on was Highway 27, I decide to honor the memory of Oscar Wilde.
“Are you going to use the “e?” the class asks. I question if that isn't too obvious. “No, use it!” they urge.
“Or,” Phoenix proposes, “you could make it Tag Wilder.”
"Isn’t that a little porn starry?" I ask.
Phoenix and Fuller exchange shrugs, as if to suggest that’s exactly the point. All right, then. Tag Wilder it is.