Roasting State College: Penn State Senior Humbles Bar-Goers One Name Tag At A Time

What’s better than making fun of drunk people with your friends? Watching them proudly wear their insults all night long.

For graduating Penn State senior Alix Melton, she’s turned that fun, drunken activity with friends into a brand for herself through “Nametag Girls.” Don’t be fooled by the pluralized name, though. Nametag Girls consists only of Melton, with the help of various friend volunteers.

Originally getting the idea from older friends who would randomly bring a pack of name tags to the bars and stick them on people, Melton decided to pick up the practice when she turned 21, but with her own spin.

Creating a Nametag Girls” Instagram account, run by Melton, she posts pictures of bar-goers decked out with a “Hello My Name Is…” name tag. With a permanent marker and a quick sense of humor, Melton writes roasts on the tags depending on what the recipient decides to share about their life.

“I always think of the name tags as a kind of caricature. Because the artists always pick something out to exaggerate,” Melton said. “And so that’s kind of like we do every week. We’re roasting people.” 

While always trying to give her best work, favorites have arisen over the past few semesters.

“I love the comparison ones where we think someone looks like a character and we hold up a phone in the picture,” said Melton, who has a designated “photographer” with her every night. “People just tell me crazy things in general, too. Like accidentally getting married and stuff.”

Because of the interpersonal aspect of the name tags, picking the right bar is key. Melton writes the name tags every Tuesday at Bill Pickle’s Tap Room, which is Country Night, and Wayback Wednesdays at Champs Downtown.

“The fun of the name tags is talking to people and the other fun part of name tags is when people read your name tag and ask you ‘What does that mean? This is weird,’” Melton explained. “Pickle’s and the downstairs of Champs are that talk-y kind of atmosphere you need for that.” 

However, it wasn’t always a two-night-a-week gig.

As an avid country night lover, Melton started the name tags there with a few other girls. Eventually, the name tags started to pick up traction, the other girls lost interest, and Melton became the singular ‘name tag girl.’ 

These days, as soon as the name tags come out, everyone knows what’s about to happen.

“I’ve had drunk girls come up to me at work and ask if I’m the name tag girl and tell me they love me,” said Melton, who works as a barback and bartender at The Basement Nightspot. “They don’t know I’m Alix, but they know I’m the name tag girl.”

Melton’s growing notoriety led to her to the Wednesday night slot at Champs. The bar struck up a deal with her to do name tags every Wednesday to help promote interest in Wayback Wednesdays.

Now, spending every Tuesday and Wednesday night on South Allen Street is the norm for Melton.

“I haven’t missed a country night this whole year. And since I’ve started working at Champs, I’ve been there every Wednesday,” she said.

Image Courtesy of Alix Melton

Despite going through about 75 to 100 tags a night, Melton hasn’t lost any love for her roasts, but coming up with that many one-liners does have its hiccups.

“I still have a lot of fun doing it. It’s not a burden or a hassle to do. But it sucks when you get a little bit stuck on somebody, and if they’re waiting for like more than a minute, then I start to feel a little stressed,” said Melton, who can expect lines to form waiting for her on a crowded night. “Usually, I can crank them out pretty quickly.”

A seemingly costly hobby to have, Melton has taken to buying the name tags in bulk from Amazon to cut costs, rather than running back and forth between the bars and McLanahan’s.

However, with graduation approaching, the food science major is faced with the future of her self-made brand.

“Since my friends are graduating, I haven’t found anyone that’s going to be around for another two years or so to take it over, but ideally it would continue on,” Melton said. “I’ve been building this network with Champs who have connections to the Champs of other colleges about possibly having “Nametag Girls” at other schools to do promotional things like I do.”

At least for herself, she plans to keep up the social aspect of it as long as she can.

“I’ll probably still do it in a new city, as long as I can find a bar that’d be a good place for it. I would like to keep it but we’ll see,” Melton said.

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About the Author

Megan Kelby

Megan Kelby is a senior at Penn State majoring in journalism. She is from the great state of Delaware and does not tolerate any 302 slander. Megan is a fan of Sudoku, music, and rocket pops. If you feel the need to, you can email her at [email protected].

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