Other Side of Me

Celebrity Alter Ego

In Katy Perry’s new music video, “Last Friday Night,” the pop star debuts her nerdy second self, Kathy Beth Terry. The brace face joins Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce, Garth Brooks' alternative Chris Gaines and more pop stars who have multiple personalities.

Katy Perry/Kathy Beth Terry

In her latest new music video, “Last Friday Night," Katy Perry debuted her nerdy, 13-year-old alter ego, Kathy Beth Terry. The bespectacled Kathy Beth, donning a pink turtleneck, headgear, and a mouth full of braces, wakes up covered in streamers and other party paraphernalia with a naked boy in her bed. Recovering from her hangover, she replays the scene from the evening prior in which she hosted a rager, got a makeover, and briefly ditched her dweeby boyfriend for an athlete with a six-pack. While the video is part-‘80s throwback to a Sixteen Candles-esque party scene, it’s also a spoof on Rebecca Black’s amateur video “Friday,” which became a viral sensation. Black, an outcast and object of worldwide derision, appears in the video as the popular girl who makes over Kathy Beth.

Beyoncé Knowles/Sasha Fierce

In November 2008, Beyoncé Knowles revealed her racy alter ego with the release of her album, I Am Sasha Fierce. The diva eschewed her relatively good-girl image and portrayed herself as a metal-clad wild woman during performances. “When I’m onstage I’m aggressive and strong and not afraid of my sexuality,” she said in an interview with V Magazine. Developing an alias was “a way for me to separate what I do onstage from who I really am - It's a way for me to not lose myself, to keep my life in perspective,” Knowles explained. The pop star admitted that she wouldn’t like Sasha if she met her off-stage: “She’s too aggressive, too strong, too sassy, too sexy! I’m not like her in real life at all.”

Garth Brooks/Chris Gaines

Though he’s one of the biggest names in country music, one Garth Brooks was not enough. He started his career in 1989 with the release of his eponymous debut album, and his records continue to sell worldwide today. In 2007, Brooks was recognized as the best-selling solo artist in American album history, surpassing Elvis Presley. Thankfully, his’ success as a country crooner was not terribly hampered by an identity crisis that hit him 10 years into his career, when he adopted the name Chris Gaines and attempted to morph into an alternative rock star. Brooks released an album under his alter ego’s handle. But his fans were none too pleased with his new persona, and Brooks retired for a brief two-month period before picking up where he left off with country music.

Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana

Tween star Miley Cyrus had the best of both worlds. She was catapulted to pop superstardom with her role on the hit Disney Channel show Hannah Montana, in which she played a girl leading a double life as average junior high schooler Miley Stewart by day and pop sensation Hannah Montana by night. By the show’s second season, Cyrus was on her own way to teen idoldom after signing with Hollywood Records and embarking on a world tour, where she performed both as Montana and herself… or Miley Stewart, it’s not quite clear. “It's all very confusing. None of them makes sense,” Cyrus told HitFix.com. “Realistically, you're not going to be able to have this double life and really keep them as separate as you want.”

David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie became a glam rock star in 1969 with the release of his single, “Space Oddity.” With three years of fame under his belt, Bowie defined the androgyny of the glittery musical era with Ziggy Stardust, his androgynous alias with flaming red hair, who always appeared in over-the-top stage ensembles. Stardust embodied the quintessential rock star who embraced sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, much like Bowie himself. Ziggy came with Bowie’s album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders, and was proof that rock stars could reinvent themselves again and again. “I fell for Ziggy… It was quite easy to become obsessed night and day with the character,” Bowie said in 1976. “I became Ziggy Stardust. David Bowie went totally out the window. Everybody was convincing me that I was a Messiah… I got hopelessly lost in the fantasy.” By the summer of 1973, Ziggy’s time in the limelight was up, but his image defines Bowie’s music generation.

Nicki Minaj/Roman Zolanski

We all have our demons, but Nicki Minaj has given hers a name. The rap queen claims that an evil twin sister, Roman Zolanski, was born inside of her and only comes out in moments of rage. Minaj has created a series of alter egos in order to cope with her turbulent childhood. “To get away from all their fighting, I would imagine being a new person,” Minaj told New York Magazine. “‘Cookie’ was my first identity—that stayed with me for a while. I went on to Harajuku Barbie, then Nicki Minaj. Fantasy was my reality. I must have been such a fucking annoying little girl.”

Bono/MacPhisto

U2’s lead singer invented several alter egos in the early ‘90s during his band’s ZooTV tour. The Fly, Mirror Ball Man, and MacPhisto (pictured here) were all conceived as his attempt to makeover the band’s Joshua Tree-era image as earnest live performers. MacPhisto was Bono’s most notable persona and was essentially an evil reincarnation of the rocker, complete with horns, a gold suit, and a face caked with white makeup. Part of his comical routine was to deliver manifestos about politics and morality during his performances. “When you’re dressed as the Devil, your conversation is immediately loaded,” Bono once said. “If you tell somebody you really like what they are doing, you know it's not a compliment.” The Edge added that the character was “a great device for saying the opposite of what you mean.”

Courtney Love/Cherry Kookoo

Volatile punk rocker Courtney Love has had some major ups and downs in her career. When her band Hole broke up in 2002, Love suffered a bit of a mental breakdown, marked by struggles with drug addiction and emotionally imbalanced behavior. In 2008, she went a bit coo-coo (quite literally) when she created a bizarre alter ego named Cherry Kookoo. Love later apologized to her fans on her blog in a barely coherent message and attributed her strange behavior to multiple personality disorder: “Just want to hank allyou supportive lovely people and thank you for putting up with my kookoo bananas alter ego… so if/when im overcome and blog again wich I wont do… we’ll know it was Cherry Kookoo, but I think I’ve killed her off.”

Prince/Camille

Everyone’s favorite “Sexy MF” known for being in touch with his feminine side, but in 1986 Prince took things to the extreme with the rise of “Camille.” During some in studio experimentation, Prince sped up the analogue tape and sang, creating the spunky, feminine voice, which would become his alter ego. Prince recorded eight songs under the phonetic guise, including “If I Was Your Girlfriend” and “Rebirth of the Flesh.” Camille also made several cameo appearances on his later albums, but apparently, the studio was not big enough for both egos and Camille never got her own album.

Eminem/Slim Shady

“Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?” mocks Marshall “Eminem” Mathers in his hit “The Real Slim Shady.” A minority in the rap world, Snoop Dog called him “the great white hope for many a disenfranchised fan.” But it wasn’t until Eminem transformed into the ever foul-mouthed Slim Shady that he was able to gain hip-hop street cred. “The Real Slim Shady” was written only hours before the final copy of his third album The Marshall Mathers LP was due. Despite his seeming multiple personalities, The Village Voice said the album showed Eminem’s “self-awareness and emotional complexity.”

Mariah Carey/Mimi

Mariah Carey’s tenth album, The Emancipation of Mimi was named after her childhood moniker. Eight years out of her painful divorce from music executive Tommy Mottola, Carey released the album that she would call her taste of freedom. But Carey, always looking to take things one step further, later declared that she wanted to start going by Mimi. “I am celebrating the fact that I’ve grown into a person and artist who no longer feels imprisoned by my insecurities or compelled to try and live up to someone else’s vision of ‘Mariah Carey.’ I now feel I can honestly say ‘this is me, the real me, take it or leave it,’” she told MSNBC. The name may not have stuck, but critics were impressed. The reviewer for The Guardian said the tracks were “the first Mariah Carey tunes in years I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again. Not bad, ‘Mimi’.”

David Johansen/Buster Poindexter

Though he declared Buster Poindexter “the bane of my existence” in his single “Hot, Hot, Hot,” David Johansen’s alter ego Buster Poindexter proved to be a legitimate hit-maker. After gaining fame with the proto-punk group The New York Dolls, Johansen embarked on a solo career. While his initial efforts were semi-successful, it was only once he traded his long locks and leather for Poindexter’s pompadour and tux that he gained commercial success.