What’s in a name?

Finding the right name to use for pinup/burlesque/cosplay/performing can be really difficult. I know people with amazing stage names that sound like real names (some of whom I don’t even know their real names). I’ve recently changed my stage name to Mickey Starling, which is more in line with the theme and style of my new performance character, but up until the start of 2017, you may have known me by my pinup name, Miss Mickey.

Miss Mickey isn’t a name that sounds particularly “pinup” I realise, but I picked it for lots of reasons. Firstly, it was because Mickey has been my nickname every since I can remember. Mum used to call me Mickey Mouse as a kid and it just stuck. For me, using a nickname I already had meant I could easily introduce myself as Mickey at events without flinching. I wanted a name that would work for both cosplay and pinup, so it couldn’t include any vintage- or cosplay-specific words either.

I threw around the idea of being Mickey Em (Em as in the way you pronounce the letter ‘M’) and went to my first pageant with that as my name, but I decided I didn’t like the way it sounded when I was announced on stage. I also thought Mickey Cupcake or Ginger Mickey (that sounded too much like a euphemism though). While I quite like both of them, I wasn’t sure if they worked for cosplay as well, so eventually, I decided Miss Mickey worked just fine.

It’s so hard choosing a name when you’re starting out, especially when you’re often choosing a name because you’re about to apply for a pageant or perform at a show so there’s added time pressures.

Some top tips for choosing your pinup/stage name are:

  • Don’t rush! Give yourself as much time as possible to choose a name. Don’t commit to printing business cards or anything until you’ve done a few events and introduced yourself with the name, and also heard it read out by someone else, as both of these things can change how you feel about your name. Ivy Dynamite suggests writing your name on post-its and sticking them around where you’ll see them everyday so you’re thinking about it a lot
  • Think about whether your name is easy to read and pronounce. Remember; whether you’re a performer or a pinup, your name will be read out as an introduction and you want the MC to be able to pronounce it
  • Think about what do you do and what you want to do under that name. If you’re a cosplayer who is only interested in cosplay,  that changes some of the parameters for your name. But if you do a few things and want to use the same name across all, make sure you pick something that crosses the communities!
  • Does your name encapsulate who you are? Can you introduce yourself with your name without flinching? Your stage name can be so much more than just the name they read out or that’s printed in magazines, it’s the name that you use to provide a layer of protection to your real life
  • What do the words in your name mean? If you’re a burlesque performer, than a sexy play on words might work for you, but pinup tends towards more demure names. Equally so, you need to make sure that the words mean exactly what you want them to mean!
  • Check to see if you’re the first person to have your name. For burlesque and pinup performers (because those communities are so closely related), you should check the Australian Burlesque Name Registry and The Pinup Registry to see if the name has already been taken. You can also do a Google and Facebook search as well (that goes for cosplayers too). Please, please don’t use the exact same name as someone else – you’re not only making it hard for them, you’re going to make establishing and distinguishing yourself more difficult too
  • On a similar note, stay away from common words like Divine, Cherry, Delight and so on if you’re in the pinup and burlesque worlds as they’re commonly used and already have lots of awesome girls who are established with these names. In cosplay, I’d recommend trying to avoid naming yourself after a character you’ve cosplayed, as it becomes a bit confusing if and when you want to try something else and I’ve seen lots of cosplayers change their names for this reason

All of this being said, rules are always made to be broken if you have a clever, interesting way or reason for breaking them. Do your research, consider the name carefully and then start introducing yourself!

For me, I never quite felt happy with Miss Mickey, but then, I was never quite satisfied with pageant life too. Shedding pageants along with the name has given me a lot of confidence I didn’t know I was missing and I’m happy about moving into a new vintage life in 2017. So while there’s a lot of pressure to get your name right in the first instance, you can always change it later on.

What’s your pinup name and what does it mean to you? What are your top tips for girls choosing their names? Let me know in the comments!

*This post features photos by Holly West Photography
**My hair and makeup in the images is by Fabulous Everything Hair and Makeup
***My beautiful Mickey skirt was made for me by Gael Storm
****A huge thanks to Ivy Dynamite, Diamond Dubbellyou, and Citrine Velvetine for their long chats about choosing stage names that helped with this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please show me that you're not a robot by answering this question! *