If you live in New York City and enjoy live theater and storytelling, you may have heard of The Moth or attended one of its mainstage shows at The Players Club on Gramercy Park. If you live elsewhere, perhaps you've heard a snippet of a Moth show during a radio broadcast, or caught an infrequent road tour, or bought a "best-of" CD.
And you may have wondered, as I did, how The Moth got its name.
Here's the answer, from TheMoth.org's About Us page:
The Moth, a not-for-profit storytelling organization, was founded in New York in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate in New York the feeling of sultry summer evenings on his native St. Simon's Island, Georgia, where he and a small circle of friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales on his friend Wanda's porch. ... The screen around Wanda's porch had a hole where moths would flutter in and get trapped in the light. Similarly, George and his friends found that the characters in their best stories would often find themselves drawn to some bright light—of adventure, ambition, knowledge—but then find themselves burned or trapped, leaving them with some essential conflict to face before the story could reach its conclusion. So George and his original group of storytellers called themselves "The Moths". George took the name with him to New York, where he hoped that New Yorkers, too, would find themselves drawn to storytelling as moths to a flame. They did. With no advertising, through sheer word of mouth, every show to date has sold out in 48 hours or less.
Listen to a Studio 360 interview with novelist George Dawes Green, the founder of The Moth. His account of the name's origin begins at about 8:09.
"The Moth" is an example of a name that has succeeded despite an original significance that was private and relatively obscure. (The shortness of the name and the vividness of the moth image certainly help.) The Moth has nurtured the brand through extensions: a MothUP is a "living room satellite Moth"; the annual fundraising event is the Moth Ball. The logo incorporates a moth silhouette and shadowed lettering that reveals itself to be a tagline ("Stories Told") rather than a mirror image.