CHICAGO (CBS) — The recent release of the Chicago “Gang Book” has caused controversy, but it also gave a peek at the unusual names given to gang members and the inspiration behind the notable monikers.
Years ago, gangs were mostly made up of Italian, Irish and Jewish members. Today they’re mainly African-American and Hispanic organizations.
People like Alphonse “Scarface” Capone and Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro (the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in “Casino”) received names based on physical characteristics.
The way a person looks can still define a gang member. But today’s nicknames are more sinister, if not more specific to what they do, what they eat or drink and how they want to be seen.
There are names that try to instill a sense of fear, so rivals know who they’re going up against.
Like Darnell “Murder” McMiller or Arturo “Little Monster” Arroyo.
CBS 2’s Ed Marshall details an unscientific study groups the names into several categories: nature, psychology, death, Hollywood/pop culture/royalty, physical size, physical characteristics, weaponry, foreign cities and food.
For example, several names connected to nature include Rat, Roach, Worm, Mouse, Panther, Mad Dog, Pigeon, Bambi, Bull, Snake, Bird, Fish, Monkey, Lizard and Oak.
In the category describing a person’s psychological profile, the names Maniac, Psycho, Insane, Goofy, Macho, Looney, Temper, Monster, Vicious and Beast are listed.
Gang members who’ve use death or violence to describe themselves have the names Killer, Bang Da Hitter, Bam Bam, Assassin, Hitman, Goon, Murder, Adolf, Homicide, Butcher and Mobster.
Using names from the movies, television and other pop culture references are popular options.
Some of the most notable ones include Wookie, Shrek, Ringo, Puppet, Chucky, Casper, Pee-Wee, Fester, Kato, Ninja, Smurf, Harpo, Snoop, Joker, Pacman, Droopy, Rambo, Elvis, Fonz and Belushi.
Describing a large or overweight person could be considered an insult. But for some gang members, there’s pride in being labeled “Big” and some gang members have chosen that word, or perhaps had it chosen for them: Big Mo, Big D, Big B, Big Wayne, Big Ant, Big Lord, Big Mike, Big Chink, Big Cuzo, Big Snow and Big Chill.
The opposite, being small in stature, is also embraced: Slim, Munchkin, Lil Dude, Little Monster, Shorty, Lil Mexico, Lil Ed, Lil Man and Lil Cuz.
Personal descriptors aside from someone’s size have also been used: Shaggy, Baldy, Scummy, Oily, Poo Poo, Cheesy, Happy, Spooky, Shy and Silent.
In the weapons category, firearms are the most popular used to convey a sense of danger: Trigger, AK, Shooty Mac, Pistol and Hammer.
Whether inspired by those who ruled actual kingdoms or actual gangland territories, using a royal title is a notable way to command respect: King Troy, King Alex, Jesus, Minister Rico, Gotti, Lord Gino, Capone, Sir Insanity, King Rambo and Kadoffi.
Today’s gang members are also using geography; boroughs, cities and countries as part of their names: Kenya, Money Rome, Mex, Cuba, Paris, Rio and Brooklyn.
Food and beverage selections are colorful and descriptive options: Frosty, Squirt, Corn, Bones, Chops, Alpo, Suds, T-Bone, Peanut, Kool Aid, Chocolate, Lemonhead, Taco and Sweet Pea.
Some of the most inspired names aren’t associated with a well known person or item.
In fact, they could say more about the gang member than any other descriptor could: Peabody, Baby Silent, Capers, Suspect, Big Shorty, Baby Vicious, Boo, G-Man, Cousin Ed, BS Floyd and Trouble.