How I imagine a teenager picks a nickname for when they’re famous

hOhmygod thank you for noticing my name tag!  You have no idea how long I worked creating this name!  I mean, I’m sure my parents agonized over choosing ‘Emily’ too, but… come on. There is no one famous named Emily. And I tried to work with Emily, I really did.  For a while I spelled it ‘Ewili” with the ‘m’ upside down, like the way Ke$ha uses the dollar sign instead of an ‘s?’ But when people read it they called me ‘E-Willy,’ like that robot in the cartoon movie ‘Wall-E’ or something.  Finally, I just had to call it.  Sorry, Mom, I know I’m named after Nanny Emily, but Nanny did not have the kind of social pressure I have today. It’s a brave new world.

That’s a book, by the way.  Did you know that?  The phrase “it’s a brave new world” came from a book I’m reading in comparative literature called Brave New World. It’s true. I like trivia like that.

Anyway, if you want to be really, really famous you have to have one name. You can’t be Emily Sawicki. You have to be Madonna or Adele.  And I had to pick something socially conscious, you know? Something meaningful.

Some people go with a nickname they had as a kid, like Bono or that Flea dude from that band Chili Powder or something.  I think they still play but it is like, hellooooo Chili People, you’re, like, Mick Jagger-old now! Time to hang it up! Am I right? Oh, side note: Flea is a good example of why you have to pick your tattoos really carefully. For when you get old. I mean, what if I had gotten that O-Town tattoo? Ha! Can you imagine? You live and learn. I can’t tell you how much I’ve grown since then. The maturity doesn’t really kick in until your late teens. I tell all my younger cousins that, but, you know. They don’t listen.

Anyway, speaking of cousins, the only nickname I ever had was “Chicken Butt” from when I did the Chicken Dance at my cousin’s wedding. My stupid other cousin, Tommy, called me Chicken Butt and it stuck for like a year. But no one is going to see ‘Chicken Butt’ in concert. Well maybe if it was a band, but I want to solo.  Or maybe I could start out in a band like Gwen Stefani, but not in a band called Chicken Butt.

A lot of stars go with their middle name, so I started there, but my middle name is Trisha, not something cool like ‘Drake,’ so that was a problem.   I was like Trish, Trishy, Trishala, Trish-Z, but nothing was really clicking. Then I remembered I read somewhere that Moby got his name because his middle name is Melville like the guy who wrote Moby Dick and I thought that is really cool. That came from literature. And then I realized the dude in the book is a one-namer: “Call me Ishmael.” Right? He doesn’t say “Call me Ishmael Smith.” He’s like the Rihanna of literature. This Melville guy was ahead of his time with the one names. And then, and this is the exciting part, I realized Ishmael rhymes with Trisha! Well, the ‘ish’ part. Things were really starting to come together!

I thought maybe I could be “Trishmael” but something was nagging me. Then it hit me. It sounds too male. You know? Ish-MALE. And I am all about female power. Ultimately, that’s the sort of music I want to produce. I’m going to sing and produce; I’ll probably start my own label eventually. But the kind of music I want to do is like all the pain of Rihanna when she’s really down about Chris Brown being a major jerk-loser, mixed with the happy girl power of Katy Perry. Like a Rhianna-Katy Perry mash-up.  With, like, just enough Taylor Swift to let me hop on the country charts too because that is a big market. I’m not an idiot.

So anyway, that’s when it hit me Ishfemale. Get it? And I’ll call my first album “Call me Ishfemale” to launch the whole persona. Then I can be Emily when I’m home, but I’ll be Ishfemale when I’m on stage like Beyonce is Sasha Fierce. The name has a little of my middle name, TrISHa, and it’s got the literature tie-in, and it’s ironic with the turning male into female part, which is also making a strong woman’s social statement. Perfect, right?

What’s that? You didn’t ask me about my name tag? I thought you said “Nice name?” …Oh, you said “Ice, same?” Ice coffee same as your buddy! I get it. Sorry, that’s cool. Two ice coffees. Coming right up!

Just for the record though, I’m going to spell it with a small “i” in the front and a capital “F”, like “ishFemale.”  So the Female part really stands out and I can do the dot over the “i” as different symbols depending on my mood or what album it is. Gives me flexibility. They already had the name tag made when I thought of that though.

You can pick up your coffees at the end of the counter there.


Amy Vansant
Latest posts by Amy Vansant (see all)

15 Responses

  1. Abby

    I can SO relate, as I don’t know how many times I have to tell people that it’s “Abby with a ‘y’ but pronounced ‘Beyonce.'” Is that really so hard to figure out?


  2. Bluzdude

    I thought you should stick with Chicken Butt. That way you could tour with Sammy Hagar’s band, Chickenfoot, as part of a whole poultry-themed road show.


  3. Irene

    I always wanted to go with a symbol like The Artist Formerly Known As Prince but couldn’t find a hieroglyph of a middle finger.


    • Kalani

      Fun post! Really enjoyed it!

      I’m curious, how would a teenager these days remember O-town and not RHCP? O-town’s only had a brief kiss with fame. Unless, maybe they wind up on VH1’s Awesomely Bad One Hit Wonders or something of the sort.

      Just a tiny bone to pick. Don’t hate me.


  4. Deb

    Haha, I must be really immature, any time Mad says, “Guess what?” My reply is always “chicken butt!” O_o

    I always wondered why people would change their name – for protection or to sound better or whatever the reason may be. But you are so right, once they get older, do they still want it? What about Prince? Didn’t he go with a symbol or something due to his name having legal matters? I can’t keep up.

    Oh and for me, I can’t stand that my name has two spellings: Debra and Deborah. Every doctor office (and you know I visit many) ask me which one it is.


    I guess there are bigger issues to be concerned with right?


  5. cj

    This is a super fun post, Ishfemale! Lo Maximo is one of my many dream names. Saw it on the back of a van in Houston. What do you think?


  6. Michele Drier

    Well, hell, I thought that plain old “Michele” was good…like that one-L thing, you know. But I may get famous so I better start thinking…thanks for pointing this out, Aimee!


  7. Lance

    I just took the sexting name generator from inspired by Anthony Weiner’s Carlos Danger pseudonym. It gave me Carmelo Threat….so there you go, we’ll drop that.

    My own teenager, Taylor, calls herself taybee all the time and I’m pretty sure she has a white girl rap CD in her future or I need to save bail money for something.

    teenagers are horrible people


  8. Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd

    True story: the late 90s teen singer Willa Ford got her name from her last name, Williford, which is also my last name (no relation), but I never would have thought of that so I wasn’t a teen pop star. 🙁


  9. Elena

    Hahaha, this is so funny! I think that name is pretty good but you can do even better than that Missy! How about Ambrosia or Jezebel? They sound pretty cool too!


  10. Michelle

    Heya! I understand this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does running a well-established website like yours
    require a large amount of work? I’m brand new to operating
    a blog however I do write in my journal daily. I’d like
    to start a blog so I will be able to share my personal experience and thoughts
    online. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or
    tips for new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!



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