The name was coined in 1978 by the critic, prankster and Mail Artist David Zack as a nom de plume for the Latvian-born poet and singer Maris Kundzins. The name also alludes to Martial Canterel, the wizard-hero of Raymond Roussel's novel "Locus Solus", and to the Californian performance artist Monte Cazzazza. It can further be read as a pun on "Monty can't sing" and, in allusion to religious free spirit movements which collectively adopted the names of Jesus Christ or saints, "Monty can't sin". Zack intended Monty Cantsin to be an "open pop star" and, in a philosophy anticipating that of free software, open source, allow anyone to perform in his name to augment and share his achievements and fame.
Zack's call upon to adopt the name Monty Cantsin was heard in 1979 by the Hungarian-Canadian performance artist Istvan Kantor who amalgamated the name into Neoism. As the shared identity of all Neoists, Monty Cantsin was transformed from a "pop star" to a radical identity experiment occupying the everyday life of Neoists and culminating in frequently extremist ways at Neoist Apartment Festivals ("APTs"). Still, the open pop star concept lived on in a series of electropop and industrial music albums and performances of, mainly, Istvan Kantor.
Later multiple names like Karen Eliot, Luther Blissett and Michael K drew inspiration from Monty Cantsin and Neoism, but intentionally avoided to be associated with physical persons, being conceived either as mere signatures (Eliot) or a collective media phantoms (Blissett, K).