Cardinal Copia and Real Names in Music

Why does The Metal Report still refer to Ghost’s frontman as Cardinal Copia when we all know who he is?

Cardinal Copia of Ghost

The question I get asked more than any other is why The Metal Report still refers to Cardinal Copia as such when he now gives interviews under his real name. Rather than address it every time I’m asked, I’m hoping this article will explain it in full.

Until 2017, hardcore Ghost fans knew who the band were as Ghost would regularly sign for fans after gigs without their masks. There was an unwritten rule that no one would take photos of them unmasked and the bands’ anonymity was preserved. When Ghost toured, other bands on the bill had to sign contracts stating that they wouldn’t identify the people under the masks, that’s how seriously it was taken. When Omega departed the band and unmasked, the man who portrays Cardinal Copia expressed his sadness, stating that the Ghouls were never under contractual obligation to not reveal their identities but that he had hoped they wouldn’t. Previous Ghouls who left hadn’t revealed their identities in the press, even when they started new bands. When the lawsuit was filed by former Ghouls in 2017, anonymity went totally out of the window, much to Copia’s dismay. The idea of Ghost had always for the band to be theatrical and to build a presence, rather than to focus on the musicians themselves.

His identity being exposed wasn’t his choice, nor was it the choice of his fans. Many fans still don’t want the illusion spoiled for them and choose to only post in groups like Legion of Ghost where discussion of the real names of musicians in or formerly in Ghost is banned. Groups where real names are allowed are always far far smaller, like Ghost Uncensored. Some groups like the Ghost BC subreddit used to ban discussion of real names (but have since changed after a vote), while the subreddit Papa_and_Ghouls was for discussion of real names. Again, a huge difference in member numbers.

Many musicians use stage names. Freddie Mercury, M Shadows, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Slash, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Blackie Lawless, Dee Snider, Billy Idol, King Diamond, Abbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Nicko McBrain, Nikki Sixx, Robb Flynn, Ronnie James Dio, Danni Filth, Courtney Love, Synyster Gates, Lemmy, Glenn Danzig, Maynard James Keenan are all stage identities. Some are obvious while some aren’t. It’s the same in mainstream music and acting. Katy Perry, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Stevie Wonder, Whoopi Goldberg, Shania Twain, Natalie Portman, Marilyn Monroe, Ashton Kutcher, Brad Pitt, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Kit Harington, Meghan Markle, Miley Cyrus are just a few people who don’t use their real names either. Perhaps you want to know their real names, maybe you don’t.

While Copia gives interviews under his real name at the moment, Ghost’s latest album, Prequelle, credits Cardinal Copia as performing the vocals on the album, not the man behind the mask. So, we refer to him as Cardinal Copia to respect his wishes and the wishes of fans who don’t want to know his identity. If you know who he is, then it’s not a big deal to read an article referring to him as such, but if you don’t know his identity then it’s a huge deal to be confronted with it.

For those who disagree, think of it this way – everyone knows that Eminem is Marshall Mathers III and while he has referred to himself as such, he is billed on albums and concerts as Eminem.  Likewise Alice Cooper; it’s no secret that his real name is Vincent Furnier, but he’s still Alice Cooper especially when he’s in the makeup.

It could be that one day we’ll decide to change and refer to him by his real name but for now, he’s Cardinal Copia, or Cardi C if you prefer.