Meet 'The Spectacle': Site gives you perfect nickname
For less than the price of a fake ID, Custom Nickname will find you a personalized nickname of your very own. CNET Senior Copy Editor Karyne Levy tries it out.
Hello, my name is Karyne. What's yours?
No, not Karen. Not Corinne. Ka-reen. It's Karyne. Like careening down a hill.
Forget it. Just call me The Spectacle.
Awesome, right? For just $30 (and often for less), you, too, can have an awesome nickname of your very own, created just for you by Seattle-based Custom Nickname.
A friend sent me a link to the service, and I was immediately intrigued. Would the folks at Custom Nickname come up with a better nickname than my usual monikers (Red, Carrot Top, and Annie)?
Custom Nickname sends you a personalized letter with the birth story of your custom nickname, along with a certificate and a "Hello my name is" sticker so you can show off your new handle in style.
The process is simple: you fill out a form on the Web site that asks you a little about the person receiving the nickname -- hobbies, personality, employment, etc. Then it asks you why the recipient needs a nickname. And that's it! Now you just wait for the nickname wizards to take that info and turn it into gold. In about two weeks, you'll be the proud recipient of a new nickname, and all your friends will be jealous.
After I was dubbed "The Spectacle," I got in touch with the people behind the site to find out more about their process. I learned that like all great ideas, Custom Nickname was born in a bar.
"Most [company idea] brainstorming sessions by recent college graduates that take place at a bar are quickly scrapped by the next day," co-founder Ryan "Knuckles" Nickum told Crave in an e-mail. "Not Custom Nickname, although it did take about seven years before we actually acted on it. At the time, I nicknamed my friend Jim with the all-time best nickname: Total Jim. He abhors exercise, and the Total Gym was a popular exercise device being advertised on late-night television."
Custom Nickname currently has three official name deciders -- Knuckles, Total Jim Cooley, and Vega-Mighty-Mite (ha!) -- although friends and co-workers from the trio's day jobs have a hand in coming up with nicknames. It's very much a group process, Knuckles says.
"It would be easier and less time-consuming to just have 50 cool nicknames to recycle, but we want each one to be unique and perfectly match the person," he says. "We are riddled with integrity. There is definitely discussion about which name to use, but in the end we have a process that inevitably ends with selecting the perfect nickname. So by the end, there's no argument. We recognize perfection when we arrive at it. It's a gift."
Some of the group's favorite nicknames: Total Jim, Beer Can Dan, Liberty Belle, Captain Awesome, Laser, Flakin' Dandruffson, Todd the Douche, The Nikom Corporation, Doug-E-Bleh, and P Dribble.
Custom Nickname -- which has been around for a couple months -- is currently set up to work only in conjunction with daily-deal sites, such as Tippr; I got my custom nickname for $15. A bargain! In the future, it plans to let you order directly from the Web site. Or you could order it directly from Knuckle Mart, another site Nickum created, which also includes strange services for sale. (A letter from Igor, anyone?)
Knuckles says he hopes fame and fortune are just around the corner, and that Custom Nickname becomes big enough that he can hire small nickname-developing teams and retire from his day job as a copy writer. He says he'd like to expand into naming pets, and hopefully provide group rates for "naming all members of a sorority/fraternity, or entire special forces teams."
"A less selfish goal is that someday we live in a country where everyone has a great nickname, and nobody has to answer to their given name," he says. "It would be a more exciting world."
Editors' note: Updated May 7, 2012, to add information about where else to purchase a custom nickname.