August MacGregor

Celebrating Sensuality. Intended for mature audiences, 18 and over

Pen Names and Porn Names

4 Comments

A couple of events covered in the news during the past few months have connected in my brain, and these have caused me to think about the use of fake names in artistic/creative endeavors. One event is the Duke University student who made the news because she acted in porn movies to raise money to help pay her tuition. The other, much less covered, is the public unveiling of an erotica author’s name because she has owed taxes for many years.

In these two cases, someone using a fake name was brought public. For very different reasons. In one, another Duke University student recognized Belle Knox on campus. In the other case, the erotic author Zane because of tax evasion.

That’s made me think about my pen name. IRS, don’t you worry. I pay my taxes. After all, the government’s got to run. (Whether it runs well or efficiently is a whole different matter.)

I use a pen name to publish erotica because I would rather my family and friends not know that I’ve self-published these stories. I am married, and my wife knows that I write erotic stories. She’s actually encouraged me to write more—especially after we hear a news story about an author making it big in erotica. I’m not expecting to be a best-selling author, but a guy can hope.

Truth be told, it’s nice to have the pen name. And I kinda like the alternate persona. I’m certainly not a spy or superhero, but I can imagine the enjoyment that someone would have by hiding behind a secret identity.

Literature has a history of authors creating different names for themselves, and I’m sure each has had their own reasons for doing so. Would Theodor Seuss Geisel have had as much success if he published under Dr. Geisel rather than Dr. Seuss? According to mentalfloss.com, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson chose to write under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll because “he was modest and wanted to maintain the privacy of his personal life.” If he knew how enduring Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland turned out to be, would he have still done that? Also noted on mentalfloss.com, Eric Arthur Blair wanted to duck the cover of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, and slapped the nom de plume George Orwell on it instead, “so his family wouldn’t be embarrassed by his time in poverty.”

But this doesn’t just happen in literature, of course. This cuts across actors, DJs, musicians, artists, athletes, politicians, and so on. Norma Jeane Mortenson changed into Marilyn Monroe. Lawrence Peter Berra is better known as Yogi Berra (okay, so that’s not so far off). Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili turned out to become Joseph Stalin. But these are just a few. The list goes on and on and on.

In most of these cases, the person is a public figure and puts their face out there.

In Duke University student Bella Knox’s case, more than her face. Which led to another student identifying her. She’s since come out with an article at XOJane.com, in which she discusses her feelings on acting in porn and the reaction she’s received, and she defends the dignity of sex workers and female sexuality. Some of other people’s reactions are incredibly low, even a death threat! This is mind-blowing to me, that someone would actually threaten her life because she has starred in adult films.

The other news I mentioned as connecting is the erotica author Zane’s name being posted because she didn’t pay taxes. I had not heard of her, but I saw this LATimes.com article that her name is being published because: “The writer reportedly owes more than $340,000 to Maryland in back taxes. That’s not all: She apparently owes the IRS about $540,000, the Washington Post reports.” [quoted from LATimes.com]

As a guy who writes erotica on the side, I was certainly interested in this story. The article links to a longer article at WashingtonPost.com. If you’re like me and not familiar with Zane, she’s a best-selling erotica author who made it big well before Fifty Shades of Grey. She’s published more than 30 books (Zane’s: The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth is one), started a publishing company (Strebor Books), created and produced two Cinemax television series (Zane’s Sex Chronicles and Zane’s The Jump Off), and had one of her novels made into the movie Addicted.

She’s experienced the kind of success that authors dream about. And, I guessing here, that the vast majority of them will only dream about and not see those dreams come to fruition. It’s a shame that the tax process came to the point where her name was publicized.

However, she did get out in public before this: “Although she tried to guard her identity, Zane began making more public appearances as publisher of Strebor Books, which has published more than 30 authors across genres.” [Quote from WashingtonPost.com.] And she did put her face in the Time Magazine interview of her, back in 2012.

My personal take on pseudonyms is to allow a person to keep it if they choose one for themselves. Yeah, I’m obviously biased about this. But we have our reasons for doing so; otherwise, we’d go under our own given name. Of course, I have an easier time of it because I’m a writer and my face isn’t in a movie.

I write erotic fiction because it’s a way to get my fantasies and imagination out there. I have a very active imagination, and I’ve found a great way of dealing with that is to get it down on paper. Er, on computer I mean. Crafting sexy stories gets my blood running faster and my mind racing.

And because I publish my stories—here on my blog and ebooks for sale—I hope to inspire my readers’ imagination to catch fire, and their blood to run faster, too. The stories are explicit, and that’s why I chose a pen name for privacy.

Kinda like Lewis Carroll and George Orwell. A big difference is that 100 years from now, their names (or pen names) will still be recognized, and not mine. But I’m cool with that. If some readers stumble onto my stories and enjoy them, that’s what I’m aiming for.

But that whole best-selling author thing would be kinda nice.

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Author: augustmacgregor

I'm a writer of erotica and romantic fiction.

4 thoughts on “Pen Names and Porn Names

  1. LOL Recently I was labeled a coward for using a pen name. 🙂

    Like

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