"What's in a name?" asked Juliet of Romeo. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Yeah, well, Juliet never met my drag-queen friend Rose Royce.
Drag-queen names are really important in gay life. (Why else would we come up with drag-queen-name-generating apps?) The problem with finding the truly funny ones is that there are so many bad ones that sit on top of them. When our team manically scoured forums and skimmed through blog posts to find the good ones, we found thousands of drag-queen name possibilities -- most constructed from such bad puns that they make you want to scoop your eyes out with a spoon.
But, ah, once in a great while we saw jewels among the zirconium. Forty of them, to be exact. And since we couldn't decide which ones were truly the funniest, we put it up for a national vote in our "Cast Your Vote for the Funniest Drag Queen Name" poll. Voting closes in a few days, so you still have time to make your gravelly voice heard.
Early returns on the survey show the following names in the top 10:
- Helluva Bottom Carter
- Lois Common Denominator
- Cher Noble
- Anna Conda
- Amber Alert
- Juana Bang
- Annie Depressant
- Rue Bella
- Eileen Dover
- Lauren Order
It's a close race. Click here to see the rest of the nominees and vote. We'll announce the top three winners next week.
What Makes a Drag-Queen Name Funny?
I posed the question to a couple of linguists, and here's what they told me: First, all funny drag-queen names are a clever form of word play. Sometimes the drag-queen pun spoofs a real person (Queef Latina) or a fictional character (Ella Vader). Some allude to (Patty Melt), others to casual club-kid phrases (Anita Bump).
Let's Talk About the Awful Ones
There's really almost no end to bad puns, and that's why you see endless streams of drag-queen names that deserve to be tucked in but good. The very worst ones deliberately misspell a bland, unfunny word to hide its obviousness (Orna Mint, Rhea Listik), while others do the same with multiple words (Ivana Kutchakockoff, Dusty ChanDiLear). Some just try too hard (Bey Khan), some try too hard and somewhat succeed (Onya Neeze), and others make you laugh even though you don't want to give them the pleasure (Abortia Clinique).
On to the Good Ones!
I asked the linguists the recipe for a good drag-queen name. One pointed to the use of witty, homophonic puns. (Yes, "homophonic"! I couldn't make that up; I'm not that good.) Comedian George Carlin was famous for them ("Atheism is a non-prophet institution"). Another pointed to the use of homographic (again, I'm not that good) puns like "You can tune a guitar, but you can't tuna fish." And yet another linguist pointed out that the truly funny drag-queen names start with a common name that doesn't signal what's coming next, like Lois... Common Denominator. The key is the element of surprise. The best do it by using commonly used first and last names so that it takes you a second to get it (Dee Klein).
Another key is to make the pun reference something people are well aware of. For example, my favorite in our poll is Blanche Davidian. But if you're not old enough to remember the siege of a Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993, you're not going to get the joke.
What's in a name? Let's see. A lot of "homos": homophonic puns, homographic puns, and homonymic ones too. Some will make your eyes roll, but the best ones make you want to come up to the stage and tip big.