Yesterday I realized I had topped 2000 followers on Twitter. For months, I’d been swearing vast rewards when the milestone was passed–I offered Batman nudes, fun-size Snickers, and the collapse of the money system. Finally, I decided the ultimate reward would be to reveal my secret identity–my alter ego.
You know me as Eliza Gauger, but my name is also Magdalene Veen.
I took the pseudonym in 2006 when I auditioned for a backup singer position in the goth band Abney Park. Although my singing (and dancing) abilities can only be described, extremely generously, as “mediocre”, I tried to make myself useful in other ways, and proposed to my bandmates that we leave the goth schtick behind and adopt something new. And the steampunk aesthetic you see on Abney Park today stemmed largely from concept art I drew for them, their instruments, their backstory, and their “characters”. Finn von Claret, a far more talented performer, who was hired after I quit, brought more to the role than I ever could have, as she is an actual clothing designer, a real dancer, and a genuine singer. I have always admired her for that.
“Magdalene Veen” was not only a more unctuous moniker that my real name–the adoption of which became common in steampunk circles–but it also allowed me to keep my serious writing and illustration work separate from modeling, bellydance, and so on. I felt that the two personas wouldn’t mix; that my art and writing would not be taken seriously, coming from a girl who shimmied onstage to silly shanties; that my feminine appearance and pinup photoshoots would be used to marginalize my other work. So I attempted to divorce my face from my real name, stashed all my modeling under the Veen brand, and kept it maostly locked down from that point on.
Of course, any internet detective with a few spare moments and some starting information could easily deduce the truth, if they felt like it. It became a sort of open secret for friends and acquaintances, and some clients–so for a great many of you, this will come as no surprise. And as the years went on, I felt less of the necessity to stay bifurcated. I asked artists I admired if I was doing the right thing, and they encouraged me to leverage one thing for another.
I’ve come to the decision to fess up officially–I feel my “career(s)” have come this far, to where I can wave away any internet bullshit about my cleavage vs. my painting ability with my usual, casual venom.
To Magdalene fans who had no idea, I say hello, and that I hope you like my other work. To Eliza fans who imagined me as a sort of cardboard mecha, a killing machine so bent on destruction and crime that the mere idea of human faces made me clatter with rage, I apologize. That crimebot is my true self. What you see in these photos is mere flesh.