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What’s in a (stage) name?

Stage names say a lot about a character or act. The show announcer introduces the act before the audience sees anything. A stage name on a poster or flyer might be the first time someone hears about a performer. They are a quick hint at a performer's stage persona. A name like Tanya Twinkletoes is more likely to conjure up an image of a playful pixie than a mean spirited goblin.


The Twin Cities are ripe with fun performer names, from drag queens to musicians, magicians and strippers. Stage names are also customary in the burlesque world. Performers from various troupes talked about their stage name and how you can create one of your own.




RedBone said her name has been around since she was a schoolgirl in Dallas, Texas. As one of about three light-skinned black girls in her school, boys used to shout out “Hey, Redbone!” as she walked down the hall.


Redbone is a slang term that is sometimes used in the South to describe light skinned black women. RedBone said she is reclaiming the name to create a positive association. “I’m a light skinned black girl and I’m proud of it. I’m taking that name and embracing it,” she said.


Tip from the pro: Take certain characteristics of yourself and just go over the top with it.



Queenie Von Curves

Queenie said her stage name originated from a fond memory of her grandfather. He used to jokingly sing a song to his wife called “Strip Polka”. He preferred the Andrew Sisters’ version.


The opening lyrics are, “There’s a burlesque theatre where the gang loves to go / To see Queenie the cutie of the burlesque show / And the thrill of the evening is when out Queenie skips / And the band plays the polka while she strips.”


For the entirety of her childhood, Queenie thought her grandfather wrote that song about her grandmother. She thought her grandmother was a burlesque dancer.


Queenie was hesitant to tell her grandmother when she first started dancing. When she finally got the courage and broke the secret, her grandmother began to laugh and said, “It’s about time we really had a burlesque dancer in the family.” Then, with tears in her eyes, she said, “If only your grandfather was here to see this.”


“Queenie is a sliver of who I am as a person, and then she gets to be an explosion of that sliver. I am able, through Queenie, to express my sexuality, my confidence and my humor. Some of the most fun parts about me get to be on a bigger scale,” Queenie said.


The “Von” comes from her German heritage, and “Curves” is a celebration of her body, she said.



Foxy Tann

Most of the time its about funny and clever and word play.


Foxy Tann said her name is an homage to Foxy Brown, except “when you add white and black, you get tan.”



CherryBomb Jac

CherryBomb Jac said anonymity is just one of the many different reasons people have stage names. A person with a corporate day job might not be able to openly talk about burlesque dancing in a conservative environment.


CherryBomb Jac said one of her students from her BurlesqueMN “alternative dance” school suffers from severe social anxiety. So CherryBomb Jac helped the student create a stage name and character. She told the student that the character can do stuff the student can’t do. For example, if the student is in a big crowd, she can go into character mode and put on an air of confidence that reflects her stage persona.


“It’s a sheltering experience so you can step out of your own skin,” CherryBomb Jac said. “And some people just do it because they want a sexier name than Amy.”



Karen Vieno Paurus

Karen is known around Minneapolis as the Sultry Chanteuse, but she is billed by her full name. “You don’t have to take your clothes off to be a burlesque singer, just a burlesque dancer,” she said.


Karen uses wigs and costumes in the same way dancers use names.


“With certain wigs, the moment I look in the mirror,” she paused and straightened her face, “there’s a different edge.”


Costumes and props also help her personify an era. “I’m not getting up there in jeans,” she said.


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