Actually, that’s a bit limiting—it doesn’t include strippers, nude models, burlesque dancers, showgirls, phone sex operators and good old fashioned prostitutes. So, I guess it’d be more accurate to say that my name has been hijacked by the vast and diverse world of adult entertainment, since countless women spanning the erotic arts have adopted my moniker as their “professional” name.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean the work itself, obviously I take issue with their predilection for my name.
I’m being very serious about that. People are entitled to make a living in the field of their choosing without having the morality police making a federal case about it—sometimes literally making a federal case about it! The problem with having such a concentrated population of Ambers in the erotic arts is that it really muddies the waters for Ambers working in less exotic fields, and our names are much less easily changed.
Unfortunately, the pervasive use of the name Amber in the erotic arts has become a bit of a problem for run-of-the-mill Ambers. In fact, it’s a problem that has spawned various other problems—some of which I’ll address moving forward.
This one never bothered me much until the last few years, probably because I started some minor obsessing about age when I turned 30. Every Amber I’ve ever met has been between three and 10 years younger than me and it bothers me mostly because it makes me feel old. I have plenty of things that make me feel old already, I don’t need a cocktail waitress who shares my name to do the same.
Sadly, the deck is stacked against me on this one—it’s a simple numbers game. The popularity of the name Amber skyrocketed in the late 70’s, growing exponentially each year, until it finally peaked in 1990. Well, I was born in 1980, which means that the vast majority of peak-years Ambers are younger than me. That pool widens significantly if you stretch it to 2001, which is when it began to decline sharply.
Probably thanks to the porn industry hijacking.
Let me start by saying that I really hate stupid nicknames. I’ve always thought it would be baller to have a super gangsta nickname like “Rat Bones” or “Stringer Bell” to contrast my decidedly un-gangsta self—but that’s an entirely different animal. Needless to say, nobody in my life has ever been receptive to my gangsta nickname idea.
Which leaves us with only stupid nicknames, of which I’ve had dozens. None have been particularly longstanding because of the sheer volume of stupid nicknames my name has spawned. Over the years I’ve been called: Am, Ambie, Amber Bamber, Amber Bamber Boo, Ambular, Blamber, Blam, Spamber, Spam, Ambrosia, Hambone, Amway, Ambre, Amber waves of grain, Scamber, Amblur, Amburger and, naturally, Amburger Helper.
Terrifying stuff, but apparently I got off pretty easy. Awhile back I stumbled across a baby name website that included “drawbacks” (stupid nicknames) to consider before committing to a name. Most of my nicknames were included, but thankfully nobody has ever called me: Am-Burp, Ambino Tiger, The Great Ambeeno, Amberella, Amber-pampers, Cheeseber, Amity, Amber-licious, Ambobo, Hamburgesa (WTF?), Bertie or Amber-Lamper that Pees in her Pamper (WTFWTFWTF???).
Actually, you can feel free to call me The Great Ambeeno.
There are few things in this world more devastating than missing children. Which is why I understand and truly respect Richard Hagerman and Donna Whitson’s desire to see something positive come from the tragic death of their nine-year-old daughter Amber. It was their efforts in the wake of the 1996 murder that are ultimately responsible for the national AMBER Alert system which gets immediate word out to the public in the event of a child abduction.
Seriously, they’re heroes—and I don’t throw that word around willy-nilly like most people these days. That being said, I can’t tell you what a bummer it is to have the one name that is now internationally associated with child abduction and often murder. Obviously it’s not something that I spend hours ranting about to anyone who will listen, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve never heard an AMBER Alert in the company of another human being who didn’t poke me when my name was said.
At least when I stroll by Camelot Gentlemen’s Club and see that four of the 12 strippers on duty are named Amber, I can see the humor in that. If anything, I can laugh at how tragically uncreative the names are and the fact that there’s a list of on duty strippers on the sidewalk—as if that would be a deciding factor for potential customers. Unfortunately, there’s no way to sugarcoat the AMBER Alert.
I often wonder how boss it must be for the Tyler Durden’s of the world to be associated with a masterpiece of a film like Fight Club. That’s a bit specific, but my point is just that it’s pretty cool to have your name associated with someone pretty cool. Or at least I imagine it might be, but I really wouldn’t know because I’ve never actually had that happen.
Most people remember the infinitely unlikable Amber from Clueless. Less memorable are Amber Holt from Parenthood, Amber von Tussel from Hairspray and Amber Moore from The Bold and the Beautiful. Oh, and how could we forget Amber Vallon—Rayanne's alcoholic mother from My So-Called Life—she may not help you with your homework, but she’ll make you a batch of frozen margaritas after you fail the test.
You Simpsons fans probably remember Amber Pigal-Simpson—the hard-living cocktail waitress Homer married in Las Vegas. Homer quickly fled Vegas but Amber eventually surfaced in Springfield and was tricked into marrying Grandpa Simpson before dying of a drug overdose at an amusement park. And finally we have Amber, the one-legged hypoglycemic/farting reality show contestant, who was one of Amy Poehler’s recurring characters on Saturday Night Live—I'm also hot and I'm rocking one leg! Jealous?
There just aren’t many fictional Ambers and the ones that exist tend to suck. Wait, I take that back. There is actually one great movie Amber that most people who have seen the film remember well—Amber Waves, from Boogie Nights. You know, the porn star.
I actually don’t have anything against most of the notable actresses and models named Amber. None of them are particularly accomplished at anything aside from being attractive, but Amber Valetta, Amber Heard and Amber Tamblyn aren’t sullying the name by simply existing on this planet—which is more than I can say for many others.
Now, I realize that it’s not the nicest thing in the world to make a list of actual people for the sole purpose of pointing out that they suck—I promise this isn’t a hobby of mine. Perhaps these Ambers will find it their heart to forgive me, but if they don’t, I really don’t care because they suck anyway.
And when your name is Amber, people often make the assumption that you must love amber jewelry. And when people assume that you love amber jewelry, people give you gifts of amber jewelry for birthdays and holidays. And when people give you gifts of amber jewelry for birthdays and holidays, you have to wear and pretend you like amber jewelry. And when you wear and pretend you like amber jewelry, additional people think that you like amber jewelry. And when additional people think that you like amber jewelry, then you receive even more gifts of amber jewelry for birthday and holidays.
And before you know it, everyone in your entire extended family thinks you like amber jewelry and you’re left with a massive collection of orangey-brown costume jewelry that you wouldn’t be caught dead in under normal circumstances. Which is actually quite funny, considering you’ll probably be buried wearing plenty of it—you know, since everyone in your family thinks you love amber jewelry so much.
At least that’s what happens when you’re an Amber who would rather lie in order to avoid a mildly uncomfortable conversation. And then keep up that lie for literally the rest of your life in order to avoid a much more seriously uncomfortable conversation/situation that you realize is all of your own creation.
If you’re not familiar with the “Amber glass ceiling,” it’s about six feet lower than the traditional glass ceiling you’re more familiar with. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice would be the same fearless trailblazing women if either had been named Amber? The answer you’re searching for is “No. No they would not.”
The simple fact of the matter is that if you name a baby “Amber,” the sky is no longer the limit on what she could accomplish in life. Perhaps someday some trailblazing Amber will break the mold by daring to be different and help reshape conventional norms—but I won’t be holding my breath. Not sure I’m right? Consider this list of “Famous Persons” named Amber from WikiName:
Not a Secretary of State among them. Hell, I’d settle for a secretary of anything at this point. You can add a sash, a script or some pompoms, but it doesn’t change the fact that every “notable” Amber on that list takes her clothes off for money.
Forget about someone named Amber being President of the United States, could you even imagine the President of the United States being married to an Amber? “Ladies and gentleman, please welcome the First Lady of the United States Amber Lee Obama.” OMG! Did Barack Obama marry that idiot Obama Girl or something???
Jeez that was humiliating for me, and it only gets worse. First, please don’t get me wrong here, presidential mistress is not something that girls should be aspiring to—but there’s no denying their existence. Now, considering the high (Marilyn Monroe) and low (Monica Lewinksy) of the position, could you even imagine the President of the United States having an affair with an Amber?
As I was hashing out this argument in my head, I was reminded of another woman: Judith Campbell. More specifically, I was reminded of Frank Sinatra’s description of Judith Campbell to President Kennedy in the HBO movie The Rat Pack. He says something along the lines of, “She looks just like Liz Taylor, but you don’t gotta to marry her to f**k her.”
I saw that movie over a decade ago and that description has stayed with me to this day. Moving on...
There aren't really a lot of options for Ambers out there, and two of the three I've come up with completely suck.
Change our names: You might think that this is the obvious course of action for Ambers unhappy with the current situation, but it's not only is that unfair, it's also far more difficult than it seems. Imagine waking up tomorrow and telling all your friends to call you "Hunter." How many of them would actually do that? None.
Stop the porn industry from using it: As most extremist, right wing folks in the country will tell you—there is absolutely no stopping the porn industry from doing anything they damn well please. So, obviously this is completely out of the question.
Shift focus to a new name: If there was some way to convince the next generation of strippers and porn stars that their careers would be best served by changing their names to "Madison" or "Jasmine," then Ambers would be off the hook. This is really the only feasible option and it doesn't even benefit any current Ambers.
So, I guess I'll just stick with complaining about my damn name.