You might have noticed that I look different this week. No? I admit, it's a subtle change, but an important one.
I've changed my byline from "Gina Lynn" to "Regina Lynn."
It seems that "'Gina Lynn" the actress -- whose real name is Tanya -- recently trademarked her stage name. She filed her application several months after my column began running on the now-defunct TechTV.com. Coincidence? Probably.
But maybe not.
To avoid any confusion in the future, particularly legal confusion that could get expensive to resolve, I've decided to use my full name even though nobody calls me "Regina" except telemarketers and doctors. (And Canadians, who pronounce it to rhyme with "vagina" rather than "ballerina," which is probably why I've been Gina all my life.)
I am not the first person to play the name game, and I certainly won't be the last.
Violet Blue is the author of the bestselling The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio and The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus, among several other sex books. She founded the Good Vibrations Magazine and for the past eight years has helped build the most dangerous robotic shows on earth with the Survival Research Laboratories.
A few years ago, it came to her attention that a porn actress was performing under the name "Violet Blue." At first, she didn't worry too much about it. The majority of adult actresses don't have long careers, whereas the real Violet Blue -- which is her real name -- already had a strong following.
"The problem for me has been that [the porn actress] did a few interviews in which she expressed homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic remarks," says the real Violet. "That's when I realized I needed to make sure people made a distinction."
Violet increased her efforts to keep her web presence strong, and to make sure her site ranks high in the search engines. "As a sex-positive sex educator who values diversity and equality, I'm naturally concerned when you Google my name and it says 'Violation of Violet Blue.' I have a lot of things out there on the web that let people know we are two different people," she says.
When I spoke with a trademark attorney about my situation, he told me that public perception is one consideration in a trademark dispute. Is there any chance that the public would believe that Gina Lynn the writer and Gina Lynn the actress are the same person?
My first response was no. She's in porn, I'm in tech. She's blond and naked in most of her publicity photos, and I'm neither.
But once in a while, I do get email from someone who clearly believed he was writing to her. We both have websites. If she follows in Jenna's footsteps she might soon write her memoirs which means we'll both have books by "Gina Lynn" that talk about sex.
The clincher, of course, is Google. When I search on "Gina Lynn" (today, anyway) the first result is "Adult star Gina Lynn" and the second is "Sex Drive with Gina Lynn." This tells me not only that I need to get to work on my search engine rankings, but that it might be possible for the public to confuse the two of us.
It seems ridiculous to have to trademark your own name, and yet both Violet and I are investigating the possibility. In a free agent nation where many of us eschew corporate employment for contract or creative work, we've also become "brand managers" of our own names. Job seekers face a similar challenge -- I know one tech writer who shares his moniker with a porn star and a biology professor. Guess what came up first when the recruiter Googled his name prior to their interview?
Entities that would never have been mistaken for one another before the web now rank side-by-side in search results. Nina Hartley had to fight Nina Footwear for the right to keep Nina.com even though no one is going to confuse an adult entertainer (particularly one as hot as Nina) with a shoe. Supermodel Cindy Crawford ranks first in a Google search but porn star Cindy Crawford overwhelms with sheer volume.
Violet Blue recently appeared at the Exotic Erotic Ball in San Francisco. The other Violet -- whose real name is Orianna -- was on the bill as well. The organizers "ran her picture and name in the local weeklies," the real Violet says. "People called me and said 'I had no idea you looked like such a porn star.'"
"It's a matter of controlling what kind of exposure the other person is giving you without your consent," she says.
I haven't uncovered a porn star working as Regina Lynn. I hereby stake my claim.
Regina Lynn has changed her URL, but for now can still be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .