Christine Macdonald

Author. Speaker. Recovering Narcissist.

Christine Macdonald

Christine Macdonald
Southern, California, USA
November 09
Contributing author of The Moment (Harper Collins). Former stripper, current writer working on forthcoming memoir Pour Some Sugar On Me: Tales from an Ex-Stripper. Activist. Public Speaker. Survivor.


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FEBRUARY 23, 2012 11:41AM

So, your name really isn't Chardonnay?

Rate: 6 Flag

In the wake of Marti Gras, and seeing those poor, unwanted bedazzled plastic masks in the bargain bin last night at the grocery store, I thought about all the gals I used to know back in the day and quickly became frustrated. I wish I could track some old friends down, but can't because I never knew their real names. As I paid for my items and walked to my car, I wondered: why do strippers use stage names?

Much like hiding your face behind a Mardi Gras mask, stripping under a stage name provides a certain type of freedom. We can play a totally different role on stage when seen as someone other than our 'normal', everyday selves. According to Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, in the Dictionnaire des Symboles, masks don't hide the persona, but in fact reveal and liberate tendencies of the true personality of the one who wears the mask.

But are strippers hiding behind their names?

During my decade-long career on stage, I made the rounds working at various clubs in Waikiki. O'ahu may be the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, but its entertainment Mecca of Waikiki (a mere three miles long and a half mile wide) is anything but vast; if you're a stripper, the town is even smaller. It would take more than simply changing my name to truly hide, just ask my brother in-law, whom I discovered with a few work buddies in the club one night. Thanksgiving dinners were never the same.

There were moments of secrecy when asked my profession, but it wasn't because I was ashamed. I suppose I can attribute feeling a sense of validation on stage due to the fact I grew up feeling un-pretty. If anything, I was proud. I didn't share what I chose to do for a living with most people because in my experience, the general consensus of sex-workers was one of harsh judgment and pity. My twenty-something ego was fragile enough, without inviting that type of criticism in the mix.

So I kept it simple. I changed my name to cut the strings of judgment. My  alter-ego was my mask.

The first stage name I landed on was born from nothing more than sheer ingenuity - my brilliant capacity to think on the spot. In entering a dance contest on Amateur Night, the club emcee needed a name. Rather than go with my usual (very Catholic) first name, I went with Stephanie. It seemed prettier and rolled off the tongue, unlike the choppy sound of Christine, which seemed way too stiff. Not only is Stephanie my middle name, it's also my mother's first name, which means my choice was either an unfortunate coincidence, or massive Freudian slip.

Whatever the reason, I wasn't Stephanie for long. After working at a new club down the street, I was told I had to change my name because they already had a Stephanie. It was the middle of August, so I chose Summer (brilliant!).

I've worked with ladies named Champagne, Deserie, Dallas, Velvet, Chardonnay, Barbie, and even Ohphelia (who jokingly spelled her name Oh-Feel-Ya on the set list). And although I'm sure there's a story behind every name, I'd bet a garter belt full of cash they aren't nearly as exciting as you may think.

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I enjoy the easy, casual prose. Your writing informs and enlightens, amd makes me feel like I am seeing into a world I can only imagine, and often imagine with the eyes of a fifteen year old boy, just for the fun of it.
Tiffany Chandelier, Crystal Goblet are two I've made up.

The stripper name game is: (1) take the name of your first pet, (2) take the name of the street you grew up on and that's your stripper name.

I'm Buffy Broadway.
Thanks DH!

@Con - I love that game! Although, my stripper name would be Niki Poipu ("poy-pooh"). Interesting? Sure. Sexy? Notsomuch.
Very well put: "Masks don't hide the persona, but in fact reveal and liberate tendencies of the true personality of the one who wears the mask."

we all have a closet fulla masks.
father, brother, son, lover, friend, employee, employer, the list
is endless...

In my rather iconoclastic opinion, "sex workers"
play an important part in holding society together,
and also , in a personal way for the woman,
grant her an exquisite power,
to develop her feminine

Strip joints are honest. You get what you need.
Lots of cash in the garter belt? Great!
Use it to live and breathe easily.
Nothing sordid about this..
No shame need be felt
by performer
or customer.

Harsh judgment and pity are for repressed damn idiots.
Thanks James. You nailed it. Exquisite power is exactly what it felt like to be on stage. xxoo
Wahoooo! So happy to be reading your writing again. It's been way too long.

Great piece -- as always. xo - Ingrid
wait, did you say "sex workers"? huh? I think you mean "adult entertainment" or "exotic dancers" which is quite different.... anyway always luv the anthropology....
Wait -- Strippers don't use their real names?

So, my mother's name might not have been "Chick-a-Chick-a-Boom-Boom" ?


At Spearmint Rhino, there were two dancers named Cialis and Viagra. Yes, they did sets together.