Stage Names: Revealed!

You know and adore these burlesque and drag performers, and chant their names before they shimmy onstage. Now, your favorites tell how the secrets behind how they chose their stage names. Some were happy accidents, while others were a spark of genius! Check the Burlesqueadelphia Event Calendar frequently to see these performers live.

“Originally I was supposed to be called ‘Trista Dolor’ (meaning “pain and sadness”) On the eve of a drag competition I was entering a woman named “Pelar” was being called on the mic, and then an explosion happened in my brain and bam: Pilar Salt.” -Pilar Salt

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Pilar Salt (left) and HoneyTree EvilEye host Agitated! every last Wednesday of the month.

“Michalchuk comes from one of my favorite bitches on televisions Paige Michalchuk from the Canadian show Degrassi. I’ve been living the high school mean girl fantasy ever since.” -Connor Michalchuk

“In high school I played the upright bass, so I was “hellcat on the bass”. I started burlesque with just HellCat, but when I wanted to change my IG to my stage name, unsurprisingly it wasn’t available so I stuck Madame in front. I did a show for Gisella and she put Madame HellCat on the flyer. It stuck ever since!” -Madame HellCat

“I had an Arabic stage name for the first half of my career, as most dancers do, but no one would address me by it. Instead, most dancers would use my real name because they liked how “exotic” it sounded and they could still pronounce it, so I just started using that instead. I wasn’t going to use my last name as part of it but, again, others just naturally included it. C’est la vie!” -Roberto Mejía

“My friends and I brainstormed food-based puns. (Pad Thigh, Egg Boob Yung, Crab Rangboob… Pretty sure we were just eating Chinese food.) Sake Toomey stuck. J.Lo Mein is my alternate name.” -Sake Toomey

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Sake Toomney. Photo: Roger Gordy

“Paige comes from Rose McGowan’s character in Charmed. I originally thought of Turner from Julian McMahon’s character and then realized it was punny, but taken. So, I turned “demon” into “D’Mone” and it was never pronounced right. Toyed with Six as a last name, but it wasn’t until someone spelled Sicks for me did it really click.” -Paige Sicks

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Paige Sicks

“The name Pi came into existence because, (in addition to always having liked math) it is minimalistic and simple but simultaneously irrational, undefinable, infinite, and unpredictable. This juxtaposition permits endless possibilities while still being easily tied together as one unit. “ -Pi

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Robin Graves. Photo: Mia Photography

“Tbh an ex of mine wanted us to be a drag duo. He was gonna be Robin Banks and I would be Robin Graves. We didn’t know we picked some of the most overused drag names ever at the time but by the time I realized that I had already dumped his ass and performed for several months.” -Robin Graves

“A conversation with my best friend about one of her wedding anniversaries. They had the brilliant idea to use KY His and Hers for sexytimes. Long story short, KY Burns.” -KY Burns

“A friend in college (who put me in drag for the first time) came up with Celeste; she decided that, if I were a woman, I would look like a Celeste—it’s a name that’s both feminine and HBIC-ish. Inferno comes from the opposite of Celeste—so my name (in horribly ungrammatical Latin) essentially translates to ‘holy hell.’” -Celeste Inferno

“Nicole is my name and I love puns. So we went with Nicole Etage because it rhymes with décolletage which is the French word for the chest area of a dress that shows your cleavage. Etage is also French for the second level in a house, so it’s funny on levels. I love puns and boobs… I’m a simple girl.” -Nicole Etage

“My nickname in college was Juno because everyone thought I looked like Ellen Page. I got a phone call late on a Thursday night to gogo two days later… The day of the show I was asked what I wanted to use for a stage name. Besides all the goofy nicknames my dad had given me over the years, Juno was the only nickname I was ever really given. I liked that her father called her Junebug in the movie… Thus, Junebug.” -Junebug

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Arwen Evelyn. Photo: William Tanksley

“I was trying to make an uncensored facebook page under the name Arwen Undomiel, my Lord of the Rings alter-ego, but the fb algorithm somehow flagged Undomiel as being a fake last name, so my friend tried a bunch of other names until one worked. I was outside smoking a cigarette when she picked this for me. When I started doing burlesque, I stuck with it.” -Arwen Evelyn

“Short story: Jo Pincushion is a Tim Burton reference (look up The Pincushion Queen) Long Story: My mother didn’t want me using my real name when it came to my art. Also: gender roles in the entertainment industry sucked. So I thought if people read the name “Jo” on my scripts or stories they might think I was a guy, and that would help give me a slight leg up in this sexist industry. Jo Pincushion had also been my AIM username since I was 16. I decided to use it because my generation lives as much online as it does IRL. So, I decided to bring. My online personality to the real world. Holding myself accountable for everything I say online and in life. Which…more people should do.” -Jo Pincushion

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