There’s been some confusion of late, as to what you should call me. You’ve seen or heard me throw out the names “Mordant,” and “Raphael,” and “Riki”—and perhaps a couple others tossed here and there into the mix. What’s up with that?! What should you call me and where do all these names come from anyway? I’m a little public for the Witness Protection Program, so it’s not that. Probably. Perhaps I’m just eccentric (read: weird), and like the thought of a ton of pseudonyms. You know…having so many people in my head that I don’t ever feel alone. But, that would be just a little too whack-a-doodle, don’t you think? The voices in my head agree with me, so it must be true.
I was adopted at birth and given the name Ronald Richard Robinson. My family goes by their middle names, and that’s where Riki comes in—from Richard. (Much better than the other nickname I could have gotten from Richard, believe you me.) It’s always been Riki and it’s always been spelled the way it is. In my teens, I tried to shorten it to Rik, but my mother said, “No! You’re name’s Riki.” And so, Riki it is.
Until I became a Tortuga Twin.
In 1987, I co-founded a comedy troupe. Known mostly as a trio (there are currently six of us on the roster), but back then we were a duo. We were portraying twin gypsy brothers looking for their lost princess—a brilliant way to meet girls according to our twenty-something minds. We needed a catchy name that sounded ethnic. The Tortuga Twins fit all that.
At the time there was an independent comic book known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (you might have heard of it). Tortuga means turtle in Spanish. As a play on words, and to pay homage to our geekdom, Jef took the name Donatello (he later changed it to D’Angelo), while I took Raphael. Besides, it began with an “R.” I have a fondness for “Rs.” Go figure.
To mix things up even more, if you ever happen to find a lost cell phone of mine, you’ll see the name Riki Tortuga on it. That’s how I’m known by most on the renaissance festival circuit. Again, go figure.
What does all this have to do with Mordant? Don’t worry, that’s next.
In 2003, I reconnected with my birth mother, Mary Mahon (her maiden name). While spending time with her—first in Florida, then in Spain—I asked her what name she would have given me. Being British of Irish descent, it would have been a doosie. John Edward Antony Noel Mordant Mahon, after her late brother. Wow.
As I was the only of her children that she had contact with—there is another that I know of—she asked that I do something to carry on the family name. Thus R. Mordant Mahon was born. I especially like it because “Mordant” is a reagent used on color in the dyeing process (“it makes things stick” as a friend of mine recently pointed out). Also, in literature, it is “a biting reply.” Not too shabby for a writer if I do say so myself.
There you have it. Call me Mordant. Some because I really like the name even if it doesn’t begin with an “R.” Some because as I brand it into the public consciousness, that’s how they’ll know me. But mostly, and honestly, because it pleases me dear mum.
R. Mordant Mahon
As An Addendum
Okay…to avoid FURTHER confusion – call me Mordant HERE. And when I’m out doing Mordanty things. It is my author name, but should not become a stumbling block for my old friends. The “R” in R. Mordant Mahon is for Riki after all. =)