I’ve been working on my burlesque name. This is a very important decision and one that will, I hope, have a lasting impact.
The formula of first pet and mother’s maiden name would equip cyber-thieves with the answer to my secret question, so that’s out. Besides, it’s not all that sexy.
To use the street I “grew up” on, I’d have to choose which of the half-dozen I lived on in the first ten years of my life: Lawn, Chauncey, Wood, Salem, Rose, Airport, Oak or NE 86th.
I tested out Rosemary Lawn this week, and when a burlesque classmate said, “Nice shimmy, Rosemary!” I was pleased, but it doesn’t sound quite dirty enough.
Naming is a big deal. Someone named my car Mavis last night. I have two special pillows named after Trewn, the body pillow I used when pregnant: Mini Trewn and Trewn Junior. (This name came to me in a pregnancy dream but it wasn’t good enough for my baby, who was named after a former president of Switzerland.)
Naming a business, service, or product is a huge challenge for solopreneurs. We’re supposed to come up with something clever, meaningful, distinctive, memorable—and something that SELLS.
It has to be a name we can live with, grow with, and say out loud in elevator pitches.
It has to last over time. The new marijuana business in Washington state has given us poetic (Ocean Greens), palindromic (Pot Stop), and punny (Hashtag). That last one capitalizes on a trend whose future seems secure based on today’s online world, but will we be using hashtags forever?
A few years back a friend of mine created a mockup business card for me as an example to use in a seminar (and not incidentally, to promote my services). She named my business Words at Work, which I used for a time. It was clear, expressive, and it happened to be the title of a book. It also happens to be a marketing communications agency that already owns the .com, so if I wanted to continue using it, I’d have to get a less-desirable URL.
Not for me to be less-desirable, so I moved on.
I wish I could tell you the origin story of Filthy Rich Language. All I know is that it had zing and zip and pizzazz and I fell in love with it. Filthy rich, rich language, filthy language: all things I wanted to stand for and could get excited about.
So why did I switch to Pearl Klein, Copy Coach? A couple of reasons, one being that I had come to believe that since I was writing WITH clients and not FOR them, I couldn’t promise them the language, only the process. They needed to know, I thought, that I was walking alongside them on their journey, not simply handing over a completed product.
Plus, under the pearlklein.com umbrella, I could share all parts of myself: artist, entrepreneur, family woman. I am my own dot com and my dot com is me.
Now, I’ve had a very lucky life, being named before I was born after my late grandmother. The name Pearl is rare, luminescent, a noun, phonetically liquid. You can see it. It has a place in nature, in mythology, in tradition. It has accrued many meanings.
(Once, when I was holding a toddler, he touched my pearl earrings and said, “Balls!” I’d said, “They’re pearls.” He said, “Pearl’s balls!” A most treasured memory.)
Yet I’m ready again for a change, and I’m stepping forward by stepping backward. Back into Filthy Rich Language.
Filthy Rich Language is a burlesque name, in that it is not only a bit dirty but it gives me a bit of protection and concealment. As one of my teachers, Waxie Moon, told me, “Waxie is things I am not. Waxie has confidence that I don’t have, and he’ll do things I would never do.”
In burlesque, by concealing you reveal. Bodies can be sexier with a little bit of coverage than they are completely nude. Hiding part of your body while revealing another is a little like a magician’s slight of hand, directing the audience’s attention exactly where you want it and nowhere else. Heightening the experience, even if it’s an experience of seeing an ankle (hot!).
By revealing you can also conceal. People like me who are habitual disclosers still don’t share EVERYTHING, but people might think we do. I learned long ago that talking about intimate details didn’t mean becoming instantly intimate. You might know me as someone who is getting more naked all the time, but what is hard for me to share you probably won’t see.
Filthy Rich Language reveals and conceals at the same time. Filthy indicates a freedom from conventional expression and a willingness to revel in saying it like it is — Fuck yeah! Rich is about the money you make and the depth and complexity of the how you talk about your work. And Language is my forté, my milieu, my je ne sais quoi. There’s just no word in English for my style.
Now I just need to find the name for the woman I will become on the burlesque stage.
Composition note: As is so often the case, my weekly conversation with Liz Applegate helped inspire this post. She, too, is pondering the difference between www.ElizabethApplegate.com and Midlife Shmidlife. Her insight about what we can do or say under one name or another mingled with my experiences this week in burlesque class and voilà! Only it took a couple hours and rewriting the ending which was mysterious never saved… Ah, the writing life.
Looking for better naming, or for ways to connect one thought with another for a miraculous synthesis of words and ideas? Join the Creative Business Writing Test Kitchen and get my eyes and mind on your copy.