Sunni: Hi, B.W.! How are you doing this sunny day? Well, sunny here where I am anyway! [laughs]
B.W.: I would imagine it's always
sunny where you are. Sorry, couldn't resist, never heard that one before, huh? Remember I think puns about Sirius are funny. [chuckles] Actually, it's the first day of summer here, so of course it's great. And a chance to chat with the Sunni Maravillosa. I'm shocked and flattered to be doing this.
Sunni: [laughing] Actually, I hear it less often than you might expect. And how did I come to be so notorious in your mind? I'm just me, like anybody else ...
B.W.: I don't know. Perhaps you're too modest. I got to know you first through your speech at the Freedom Summit last year, which I grabbed via Kirsten's Poddy Talk podcast. They don't just ask any old person to speechify at these things.
Sunni: Well, this interview is about you, so I'll just thank you for your kindness and proceed. [pauses] Gosh, now that we're actually chatting, it's tough to know where to begin. How about with a confession from me: I'm not sure how to refer to you. Since you refer to yourself on your blog as
B.W., that's what I was thinking of calling you, but it's long, and awkward, and honestly, when I think of you I say
Montag, because I really like that even though it's just the name of your blog. So, help out a confused reptile here: what would you prefer me to call you? Brian? Or B.W.?
B.W.: You think of me as
Montag? That's interesting.
Monty would do, then! [laughs]
Sunni: [laughs] No, no, no! That's giving me Let's Make a Deal flashbacks!
B.W.: I don't think it's a huge secret that Brian Wilson Richardson is a name I made up anyway. Claire Wolfe has a great, great column in which she says of course Claire Wolfe is her real name, and in that sense B.W. Richardson is my real name, but as I go about my life I'm not used to being called B.W. or Brian or Monty. So really, whatever you feel comfortable calling me, go fer it.
Sunni: It's funny how quite a few pro-freedom people get hung up on this
real name nonsense. A while back, I witnessed a very interesting exchange, in which one person was persistently asking the other for a
real name. Finally, he said,
Well, what's the name on your driver's license? which set me laughing. As if a state-sanctioned label is somehow more official than one a person chooses for herself!
B.W.: In some ways the name I chose for myself
feels more real. It seems like I've seen either a story or a real tribe somewhere where choosing your name is a rite of passage to adulthood. Fact or fiction, it seems like a really cool tradition. In many ways I'm able to say as B.W. things that my supposedly real self couldn't get away with—or at least they're things I would feel a little uncomfortable saying—or people would make me feel uncomfortable that I said it as [mumbles name under breath]. And Lord knows there are days I wonder if the guy whose name is on my driver's license is a real person.