Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Pop Murder Mishmash Contest

If you know me, you’d probably not be surprised to hear that I know little of Marilyn Manson. (Or maybe not. I don’t know, know that I think about it. Do I seem like somebody who listened to Marilyn Manson in high school?) Like most of the population, the most exposure I ever got from him was that one song he did for the Matrix soundtrack.

However, even someone with a superficial awareness of Marilyn Manson may know how he got his name: by combining the first name of a pop icon (Marilyn Monroe) with the last name of a notorious counterculture personality (Charles Manson). Last month, a blog I enjoy — Yesterday’s Faces Today, a LiveJournal community blog that specializes in showing how well or how badly the stars of the 80s and 90s have aged — featured an up-to-date photo for Jeordie White, who, it turns out, performed in Manson’s band under the stage name “Twiggy Ramirez.” Like Manson’s name, it draws from a pop high and a criminal low: the model Twiggy and Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. Has a ring to it, I guess.

I ended up on Wikipedia looking into who else appeared in Manson’s band under a similarly patterned stage name, just to see whose was clever and whose wasn’t. My results:
  • Ginger Fish: a drummer, who apparently has also performed with Paul Anka and Barry Manilow. His name combines Ginger Rogers with Albert Fish, a particularly vile serial killer. He’s not as well known as others, but what this name lacks in infamy in makes up for with the fact that “Ginger Fish” sounds like some sort of candy. Which, given the context, is just wrong. My grade: A– for making me feel uncomfortable.
  • Madonna Wayne Gacy, a keyboardist. The sources of the name are too obvious, and something irks me about using the first name of a personality who lacks a last name. My grade: D. Please don’t murder or sing to me, Madonna Wayne Gacy.
  • Daisy Berkowitz, a guitarist. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this one. It seems somehow seems like cheating to pick the first name of a fictional character, Daisy Duke from The Dukes of Hazard, rather than a real-life icon. On the other hand, “Daisy” slides just as well into “Berkowitz” as “David” does. If “Daisy Berkowitz” didn’t sound like the name of some irritating, unfortunate girl with coke bottle glasses that sat at the back of my freshman English class, I’d call it even. My grade: C–.
  • Gidget Gein: a bassist. I give points for alliteration even more for making a bunch of goth kids aware of who Gidget was. My grade: B+.
  • Olivia Newtown Bundy, a bassist. Not bad, I guess, though I wonder if Olivia Newton John really deserves to be on the same list as the rest of referenced pop icons. Ted Bundy certainly belongs on the list of serial killers, though. My grade: B, possibly because “Olivia Newton Bundy” calls to mind more some obscure Married… With Children character than the contrast the band members seem to be going for.
  • Zsa Zsa Speck, another keyboardist. I’m so-so on this one. Most people don’t know who Richard Speck is, I’d wager. And was Zsa Zsa Gabor ever such a big deal? Nonetheless, “Zsa Zsa Speck” kind of sounds like a character from a Tom Robbins novel, so I have to like that. My grade: C.
  • The absolute winner of this pop-murder-mishmash contest has to be Sara Lee Lucas. Again, I’m troubled somewhat by the use of a fictional pop reference — cooking mascot Sara Lee — but the idea to blend it into Henry Lee Lucas just works too well, what with their shared middle name. My grade: A–, only because I don’t feel like the grade of grader who gives out A’s too easily.
Hurray for themed names, even when they are halfway themed around serial killers.

Names, recently, here on this blog:


  1. So, I feel I should comment simply because I relate to the goth crowd and probably have as little knowledge about Marilyn Manson as you. I've heard... 5 songs? Didn't really like them very much and didn't even realize that the other people in the band (whose names I've never heard before) all had names that were contrived the same way as the singer.

    Anyway I think Zsa Zsa Speck is my favorite followed closely by Ginger Fish. The later reminding me of something you'd eat with circus peanuts. The other wildly funny thing is I know who all the pop references are, but hardly any of the serial killers... does this make me a bad goth?

  2. A bad goth maybe, but also someone who spends her time doing better things than researching serial killers. People who spend their time doing this are either FBI agents or apprentice serial killers, I'd guess. If you ever have the motivation, you can sink a few hours into It's oddly engrossing. And also very gross. And then you may not be able to sleep at night. In short, good time had by all.

  3. I've got one--Carol Cheney. She'd be famous for her live Goth version of "Hello Dolly," that culminates with her shooting someone in the front row in the face.

  4. Let's see. It's catchy. It gracefully blends the two names and even makes use of the similar sounds that begin the last name. It's an effective combo of high camp and pure evil. And it plays in the innate creepiness of Carol Channing. Good job, George. I give it an A-.