Hello, My Name is... Your Guide for Choosing a Stage Name

Burlesque Dancers have ‘em. So do Derby Girls. And yes, strippers, as well. The thing these ladies have in common—other than undeniable ovaries of steel—is a stage name. When it comes to pole dancing, having a stage name is not such a “thing” (especially among professional and competitive dancers, as their positions require personal recognition.) But for many of us, having a stage name is part of the fun! I mean, talk about creating a fantasy: it’s not day-to-day shy me out there, it’s CRIMSON MINXXX!

The question is: how do you even come up with a stage name?! This has been a topic of much discussion at my studio, as many ladies want to be recognized as their “alter ego” in our upcoming showcase. Not to mention, many women have sensitive situations where they simply can’t attach their real name with their on-the-side exotic dancing, so this is a perfect solution to still maintain an identity in the community.

After dismissing the “name of your first pet/first street you lived on” method, I’ve attempted to develop a more bespoke approach below:

Step 1.
The first, and I think most important, step is to develop a visual mood board for this new persona. Is your pole ego a fiery sex bomb? Sweet but sinful? Exotic and expensive? A strong and intimidating maneater? Remember: this is fantasy! And also an opportunity to play the role of the woman of your dreams. It’s like Halloween, but every damn day! So have fun with this. And I promise, having a visual collage will really get your creative juices flowing. You can create a board on Pinterest, or even cut up old magazines and ephemera and paste onto an actual poster board. Whatever works for you. Then step back, give it a good look, and let yourself be inspired. Here is an example of what I came up with:

Step 2.
Write up a list of things that make you unique, and that you truly connect with. This list should be extensive! And don’t worry about word-smithing at this point. Just get down on paper any and all words and ideas about yourself that you can OWN. This can be related to your physical appearance or your general disposition.

Here is a small list of examples, just to convey the idea:
Flexible, tall, short, strong muscles, curvy, red hair, curly hair, smooth dark skin, Asian pride, Texas pride, piercing eyes, full busom, big bum, tattoo collector, loud, quiet, sweet, bad girl, dominating, classy, sassy attitude, goth, pinup girl, fly girl, hippy chick, rock and roller, star wars lover, comic geek, spiritual goddess, glam gal, love spin pole, love pole tricks, love floor work…

Spend at least 15–20 minutes on this, as the process will A: really help build some self esteem (damn, you’re such a rad chick!) and B: you’ll find that after some time, certain things will start repeating themselves and deeply resonate with you. We all have so many things about us that makes us unique creatures, and we can draw upon and play up these aspects to create stage names we truly CONNECT with.

Now onto step 3…

Step 3.
Pick out a handful of words/ideas from the list that you feel the most affinity for. What do you feel most proud about? What keeps repeating itself? And even more telling, what is it that people most often comment upon when complimenting you? Three to five is a good number to work with.

Once you have your list, this is where the word-smithing comes in. Come up with alternate ways to express each word/idea you've settled on. Be creative. Be abstract. This is also where your mood board comes in handy. Your poetic language should suit the visual style of your board, and you may even find inspired words pop into your head just by gazing upon it and embracing the personality of the images you chose! Other hints: Use a thesaurus, browse the names of applicable blogs and social media accounts, and try using well-known words in other languages (for example, French can make something sound more girly, while Spanish can spice things up!)

Again, just to convey this step, here are few examples below:

Redhead (since I’ve already done this one!): Scarlet, Crimson, Fire, Flaming, in Flames, Blood, Bloodshot, Garnet, Ruby, Burgundy, Merlot, Cherry, Cinnamon, Spice, Cayenne, Roja, Red Hot

Sweet: Sugar, Candy, Cake, Cupcake, Syrup, Bonbon, Delicious, Honey, Nectar, Darling, Cutey, Sweetness, Precious, Tasty, Sunshine, Baby, Babydoll, Doll, Sweets, Sweetheart, Lace, Petite Cherie, Kitten

Texas Pride: Cowgirl, Chaps, Belle, Vaquera, Austin/Houston/Dallas/name of city, Lone Star, Hills, Country, Southern, Twang, Longhorn, Lady Bird, Bluebonnet… Note: I’m from Jersey and know very little about Texas, so I’m probably not doing this one any justice!

You get the point. It can even be helpful to let this list sit for a bit and allow words to come to you from songs, signs, and conversations you encounter throughout your day.

Woohoo! You now have a list of possibilities for what we’ll refer to as your “Primary Word”!

At this point, go through and circle your favorites. Choose the words that excite you, that “speak your language”, and that would excite you to have as part as your stage name. Bonus points for double entendres! For example, “Hills” can relate to both your Texas heritage and shapely derriere, while “Cherry” can speak to both your red hair and your lovely lady parts.

The point of developing this list is to ultimately come up with a name that really suits you and plays up your personality! I mean, there are so many great names out there to choose from, but it doesn’t have much impact if it’s not relatable or suited to you as a dancer.

So now that we’ve gotten this far, on to the most complicated part…

Step 4.
We now have to come up with what we’ll refer to as a “Companion Word” to match to your Primary Word. This is where it becomes a puzzle of sorts. And there is not an exact formula, as the options are endless, so get ready to bust those creative chops!

Your Companion Word should compliment and further enhance your Primary Word. Although it’s not necessary, it’s quite effective if this Companion Word either rhymes with or cleverly combines with your Primary Word. And one does not have to come before the other: arrange as you see fit! There are countless ways to come up with your Companion Word, but here are a few good places to start:

A proper name. This direction may be the most popular, as it’s an obvious way to make a stage name personal. Keep in mind this doesn’t just mean your first name, nickname, or surname (also be careful with this one, it can end up sounding more like a high school sports nickname.) This can also be the name of your favorite movie or literary character, city/state/country of origin, favorite car model, Goddess, etc.
Examples: Foxy Roxy, Lone Star Lolita, Candy Cadillac

An adjective that reinforces or enhances your Primary Word. This word should be evocative, and may even be another word on your Primary Word list. Even think about adjectives that could relate directly to how you like to dance (how about “Dizzy” if you like to spin?)
Examples: Dizzy Darling, Trixie Minxy, Fanny Fatale

A noun that reinforces or enhances your Primary Word. As noted above, this should be evocative and relate to the persona your trying to create. Think of nouns like gem stones, flowers, cocktails, etc. (And as above, can you choose a noun related to pole dancing, such as the “Martini” trick?)
Example: Chocolate Martini, Pixie Rose (Tipsy Rose?! Just kidding, don’t drink and pole).

Onamonapia: add a word that packs a punch! Try to integrate a word that sounds like the noise it’s associated to, like POW! or BAM!
Examples: The Clack Widow, Buxom Boom Boom

Can you play with semantics and come up with a clever namesake?
Examples: Amanda Wreckinwith, Hellena Handbasket (both TOTALLY taken, but clearly express the concept). I also just thought up Double-D’light, which through my minimal google searching doesn’t appear to be taken, so if you want it, it’s yours!

Remember when I said this part is sort of like a puzzle? Coming up with a match takes time! Do any of your Primary Words have a clear mate by doing the exercise above? You may end up using a word you didn’t initially circle in your list, just because it sounds so damn good with a Companion Word that you adore! There is no right or wrong. Just go back and forth, and let the above act as a general guide, rather than a strict process. And I'll say it again: keep referencing that mood board! Make sure whatever you end up with speaks to you and the stage character you want to embrace! Just because you think up something cute or clever, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for YOU!

Still stuck? Try running ideas past friends and pole comrades; a lot of time we’re on the verge of a major breakthrough, and just need that outside perspective to give us a final nudge into stage name greatness!

YOU DID IT! Or, you will very soon. Either way, ON TO THE BONUS ROUND!

Though this last part may not apply to everyone, it’s a good exercise just to see if you can add any last VA VA VOOM to your name. Can you apply any of the below?

Change the spelling to something more creative or salacious. For instance, I chose Minx as my Companion Word, and when I told my homegirl, she said, “You mean MinXXX?!” Brilliant. Thanks Bre! Another example would be “D’Lish” as a fun, unique play on the word “Delish”.

Add a title. This can give you even more bang for your buck. Think “Madame”, or “Little Miss”. For example, “Dita Teese” is a great name—specifically for someone who performs striptease—but “Dita VON Teese” is even better!

WOW! Thanks for hanging in there. I hope you found this inspiring and encouraged your imagination to run wild!

What’s your Pole Dance nom de plume? Do you feel like having a stage name helps you feel less inhibited when you perform? Any other thoughts? Please share in the comments below!