In 1980, one of my songs was performed on network TV in prime time, the first time I’d ever received such wide exposure for anything I’d written. It was a song called “Gimme a Woman Instead”, a funny, countrified ditty listing the advantages of a woman over a dog. Sample lines:
“A woman won’t come up and sniff your behind
And most women don’t pay the mailman no mind
And who the hell cares if they never play dead
Just gimme a woman instead.”
It was on the then-popular Barbara Mandrell Show, and the song was performed by the Krofft puppets, Muppet-like creations who had a weekly spot in the show. These particular puppets were dogs, and the ‘women vs. dogs’ concept was confused, if not ruined, by having it delivered by canines. The gap in logic didn’t queer the deal with Mandrell or the Kroffts, however, and it certainly was not a fine point I was inclined to squawk about.
The airing of the program meant that I would have some performance royalties coming my way, but first I had to register with one of the performance rights organizations. In my case, that turned out to be BMI, and I needed to join both as a songwriter and as a music publisher, since I’d retained all the publishing rights to “Gimme a Woman”. Needing a name for my newborn publishing company, I finally settled on Man Cheese Music, a play on my last name, Manche. I envisioned a cartoony logo and got an artsy friend to come up with an R.Crumb-ish little cheeseguy that I could use on business cards and letterheads.
Man Cheese Music did not prove to be a publishing juggernaut, and has barely been active since then, owing to a certain lackadaisical attitude pervading its entire workforce--yours truly. But recently, I have renewed interest in rejoining the fray of the music biz, and was telling a friend about plans to build a new Man Cheese Music website. My attempts at creating a modicum of preliminary buzz were going nowhere with him and, upon probing, learned that he had grave misgivings about the name.
“I can’t get past the other meaning”, he said. “It’s a real turnoff.”
“Other meaning?”, I asked. “What other meaning?”
“Google it”, he dodged, not wanting to disparage my corporate identity to my face. A Google search turned up the “street definition” of man cheese: the smegma that accumulates under the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis which is not washed regularly. Ewww.
This changed things. What were my options? Well, for one, I could dive into the administrative hell entailed in changing the name to something a bit less unsavory, like Clean Penis Music, perhaps. Or, I could just do nothing in hopes that most people are just as naïve as I was regarding certain street definitions. Or, in a bolder stance, pushing the envelope of lactose tolerance beyond the bounds of good taste, I could fully and publicly embrace the groinal and malodorous aspects of the name with the glee of a sniggering adolescent: "Sure, I know what 'man cheese' means (heh-heh). Aren’t I the rogue?”
Author's note: Since the writing of this piece, in 4/12 (that's a date, not a Baltic time signature), ManCheese Music, my third album, has been unleashed on the world, thereby settling the issue. Yes, I went with 'sniggering adolescent'.