A lovely British VO talent has been asked to voice a book with some very explicit scenes and language. She just called to ask if she should use a different name as talent.
My answer? Yes.
But, in this particular case, no. Here’s why.
Books are the last bastion of free wheeling language and adult situations. Popular best sellers are rife with incredibly explicit sexual situations and passages.
And then there’s erotica, soft core pornography and everything in between. And all of those categories can be a bit daunting to work in for your average VO talent bear. I’ll admit, when I’m voicing a sex scene, I’m more than a little self conscious – and I’m no prude.
For women, especially women of a certain stature, voicing anything racy can lead them to think about taking on a second name to record under, just to keep THOSE kinds of books from keeping her from getting all the rest of the work that’s available.
And when my UK friend called, she had already made the decision to do just that, and was wondering what the details might be around getting paid under that second name. While we were talking, she casually mentioned that the book was being published by [name redacted – let’s just say it rhymes with Carper Hollins], only one of the biggest publishers of books in the world, and the biggest name in audiobooks as well.
This was no fly-by-night erotica factory in New Jersey.
And that changed everything for me about my answer.
So I said, “You know, I can’t think of a best seller that doesn’t have really explicit sexual situations – and because this is a big publishing house, I’d think long and hard before jumping to the conclusion that you should use a different name. It might become a huge seller, you might even end up voicing the franchise, and you’d want the credit if that was the case. If your actual name isn’t on the audiobook, you might have a dickens of a time convincing others that you did the work.”
I’d certainly understand if the book was designed to be read by creepy old guys for 5 minutes at a pop. But my advice to her, and to you, dear SOVO reader, is to take a moment and consider the job, not just the content, when making a decision like this. It may be off-putting to say some of those words – but remember: we’re actors. We do this for a living. Let’s get paid, and credit, for that.
When would you insist on a different name to record under? Let me know in the comments below.
Hope this helps.
I would think you might want to record under a different name if you have a very common name…like let’s say John Smith or Sue Johnson etc. :-) KK Ryder
How interesting, I’d never thought of it like that before. Best to get all the details regarding publishing before making a decision.
If I’m not comfortable putting my name on it, I’m not comfortable doing the work in the first place. I’ve turned down a couple offers for erotica audiobooks (both mis-classified as “romance”), but the first one made me think long and hard about this issue. In the end, I decided pseudonyms weren’t for me, and neither was sex-without-substance. And knowing how uncomfortable I was reading the book to myself, I thought about how uncomfortable I’d be when recording it for others to listen to, and how that might affect the performance. If you can do it, power to you, because there’s a lot of work out there in that department. Not for me, though.
I’ve thought about experimenting by recording under another name. Sometimes when people see my face or know my full name, they think hear a “slight accent”, but when people hear only my first name on the phone, they picture me as a blonde teenager.
I often debate with myself and some of my friends about working under a different name. I like your advice about considering the work and not just the content. So my new stance is to consider the publisher, the artist and his reader, and the pay before I pick a different name to work under. That really is a lot to think on. With your permission, I’d like to post this question to Stage 32.
I’m not sure what you mean by “post this question,” but as long as you don’t post my entire article, you can certainly post a link to it, and the first paragraph or so, anywhere you like. Thanks so much for asking!
Integrity, I was taught, means doing the right thing even when no one’s looking. If I wouldn’t read this to my teenage daughters, I don’t have any business reading it under a pseudonym.
Is it merely a question of squeamishness or will narrating several romance/erotica novels really impact the sort of future work I can get under my real name? I don’t mind narrating steamy scenes under my own name, unless it would discredit me for other kinds of work.