Tag Archives: SantaCon

SantaCon 2011

I started my SantaCon 2011 at 10am, catching a cab to the Manhattan morning meeting spot: North Cove Marina at Battery Park City. There were already a few dozen Santas; within an hour there were hundreds. The cans and boxes for the Food Bank for NY collection were piling up at the feet of the Marines, there representing Toys for Tots, which would be receiving 10% of proceeds from many of the day’s visited bars. The mob milled about for an hour or so, admiring each other’s outfits and posing for photos.

By 11am Santa was on the move, promenading along the waterfront from the Marina around the tip of Battery Park, then up Stone Street. It was a seething mass of Santas, every block clogged with jolly old elves. The eventual destination was South Street Seaport, which within an hour became completely overrun by revelers in red. Upon arrival, this Santa spotted her favorite Santa from last year and got a little reunion kiss, then headed straight to Sequoia, where special arrangements had been made with the manager. He had promised Santa two open floors, bars on the balcony, plus their three private party rooms: a few thousand square feet for Santa to get his drink on. And…the guy had totally lied. Only one floor was open and Santa wasn’t even welcome there. How the hell, I gotta ask, in this economy, could someone turn down a $20k bar take? Does the manager hate Santa that much? Talk about bah humbug! Whatever. We took our business upstairs to the beer garden, where there was even more space, enormous $6 beers in “go cups” and amazing views! Santa also patronized just about every other establishment in the building; in addition to the hundreds of beers bought, lunches were wolfed down and Santa was even spotted picking up a few extra holiday accessories.

After a long enough while for Santa to eat, drink and rest, the hoards descended upon City Hall Park, where police attempted to deny Santa access. So many people were flowing through — and past — the park en route to the Lexington Line that things didn’t get too out of hand. From there, Santa took the subway to Grand Central Station.

Photo by Jakob N. Layman for TimeOut

The Main Concourse filled up with the festive mob, prompting concern from police and the eventual arrival of paddy wagons along 42nd Street, with much wailing of sirens and flashing of lights.

Santas strolled from Grand Central to the steps of the Public Library, where candy was handed out to children, portraits were shot with the lions and, soon enough, riot police on scooters lined up across Fifth Avenue. Is Santa all that scary? This elf took the hint and made a bee line for the bars. Unfortunately, both of my desired destinations, District 36 and Rick’s Cabaret, had lines down the block, so I dragged a few fellow Santas to the Radisson Hotel bar (including that aforementioned favorite Santa). It was a welcome respite with no other Santas vying for beers or the bathroom. Smiling management, happy for the additional — and creatively costumed — customers was an additional bonus.

After we’d slaked our thirst and had plenty of time off our feet, Santa decided to try and catch up with the rest of the crowd in Times Square. The Crossroads of the World, already a crushing mass of commuters, tourists and shoppers, became even more bustling with the addition of so many Santas. Sadly, the police guarding the glowing red staircase above Tkts refused to let Santa assemble there, saying, “People want to get their pictures taken.” Santa bellowed, of course, “Well so does Santa!” But instead, no one got their picture taken on the stairs, as they were blocked off completely. Boo!

At this point things had completely deteriorated. We’d lost the critical mass of Santas. not to mention experiencing the effects of mind-altering substances, so we headed back over to Grand Central to take the downtown train. Re-emerging at Union Square, Santa zig-zagged to Avenue A, where there had been a takeover of Tompkins Square Park…that we missed. Undaunted, we crammed into Doc Holiday’s with a convivial crew of sweaty Santas for cheap beers, country music and some more time off our boots.

By about 11pm the full day of Santa antics was wearing on all of us. I brought a bunch of Santas back to my apartment to “regroup” but that quickly became a full-on crash-out. Everyone weighed the options of attending Rubulad, the official SantaCon after party, or Gratitude, a less official but no less welcoming event for spent Santas. Me? I couldn’t make it another minute and opted to stay put, calling it a day after a dozen hours of SantaConning.

Overall it was a most successful celebration. The sun shone brightly on the estimated 10,000 Santas, over three tons of food were collected for the Food Bank for NY, Toys for Tots will benefit from the thousands of dollars raised, Santas met and befriended new Santas and a holly, jolly time was had by all. Though most write-ups and reviews of this event tend to emphasize the drinking aspect, I prefer to appreciate not only the creativity and enthusiasm people bring to SantaCon but the wonder it inspires.

Peppermint Spray photo by Teague Clements

From a personal viewpoint, it was easy to tell the veterans from the amateurs. I’d filled a plastic spray bottle with peppermint schnapps and vanilla vodka, then tinted it with green food coloring, calling it my “peppermint spray” (to complement my Peppermint Queen ensemble).  Those who were down with the program just opened their mouths in anticipation of their spritz; the clueless cringed as though I was going to truly pepper spray them or hid behind their hands in fear. One guy really overreacted: “I think you’re giving out AIDS!” he squeaked as he scampered away. Yeah, I’m spraying HIV into peoples’ mouths with a $1.99 plastic bottle covered in Christmas wrapping. Uh-huh. Cause as everyone knows, peppermint schnapps transmits the deadly virus!

I was kind of shocked how paranoid Santa was, given that, well, we were all in on the same joke. Sigh. My only other negative interaction of the day was with a big beefy Santa at about 11:15am, somewhere between North Cove and South Street Seaport. It wasn’t even an hour into the event and he was already bitching about wanting to go to a bar, so I tapped him on the shoulder. “Santa,” I told him, “there are bars everywhere in Manhattan. If you want a beer, go to one.” I guess he hadn’t gotten the memo that SantaCon isn’t a bar crawl. “Who the fuck are you?” the guy sneered. “And are you a man or a woman?” Yeah, that’s right, buddy. Play that unidentifiable gender card, cause it is soooo enlightened.

Anyway…sure, Santa has gotten an increasingly bad reputation over the years for being a bunch of drunken, puking frat boys and Barbie dolls in Victoria’s Secret Ms. Claus skimpiness. But there are some of us out there who take our costuming and our SantaConning pretty damn seriously. We don’t dress up in denim or act like assholes, puke or impugn. We get there early, food drive cans in hand, shepherd the Santas and slurp up every second of this most festive –and my most favorite — of days! HO HO HO!

No Pants December: Day 11

After 18 straight hours in platform fuzzy boots yesterday, I was impressed that I even made it out of the house today. I barely managed to struggled into the same stripey tights and holiday socks from Friday night (only slightly soiled!) with the same red Mary Janes. I couldn’t bear the idea of a miniskirt in the cold so I wore my longer black skirt and, yes, the same red shirt as Friday as well. What? I was only out long enough to eat a late brunch and return the hot pink gloves I bought for my SantaCon ensemble but didn’t need. Instead of coming home with cash — which I couldn’t have anyway, since Joyce Leslie will only MAIL you a CHECK for your cash refunds! GAH! — I picked up another one of those awesome $9.99 lace shirts in pumpkin orange. Which means I’ll be able to layer a pink one and an orange one for the next Disorient bash! Huzzah! Now I’m in my snowflake fleece pajamas. Santa is SPENT! Ho ho h..zzzzzz……

Visit my friend Amber’s NO PANTS 2011 blog.

No Pants December: Day 10

I was excited as hell for this year’s annual roaming of the red. So excited, in fact, that I spent the last week assembling a brand new ensemble and accessorizing like crazy. It turned into a pink and red extravaganza that some christened The Peppermint Queen. The outfit consisted of:

Photo © Ed Barnas. Reproduced with permission.

A red lace shirt underneath a pink lace shirt, both purchased at Joyce Leslie for $9.99 each. Nice!

Red satin hot pants purchased in the ’90s at Le Chateau. Nicer!

Red and white stripey tights that I’d spent hours dying fuschia, but since I didn’t know that Rit dye doesn’t work on synthetics, they came out pale pink and red. Sigh. But still effective!

Demonia red platform furry boots I spotted at a sample sale at my friend Paula’s Dumb Clothing shop back in 2005 or so.

A tiara-like headpiece I crafted out of Christmas balls and ornaments and a few ounces of glue-gun glue.

A red Mongolian lamb scarf that I’d treated myself to a few  years ago after losing a black one I’d bought for 10 bucks at a thrift store. Suffice it to say, the red one cost far more than the black one had…

And finally, the final piece of my look: a hot pink fake fur jacket from Trash and Vaudeville. I totally couldn’t afford it but…I also couldn’t live without it! It was just too perfect for the outfit! The piece came with corset-like black satin ribbon lacing up the back; I replaced the black satin with red and white candy cane ribbon from the Mecca of fashion and crafting, M&J Trimming.

Photo © Ed Barnas. Reproduced with permission.

It was just too perfect for the outfit! The piece came with corset-like black satin ribbon lacing up the back; I replaced the black satin with red and white candy cane ribbon from the Mecca of fashion and crafting, M&J Trimming. I had matching ribbon bows on my braids; gotta love that wired ribbon!

All my glue gunning paid off cause the fabulous Bill Cunningham snapped a few shots of me!

I carried a red patent leather bag filled with peppermint candies (and everything else I needed), had a pair of red gloves that wound up in that bag for most of the day and my most inspired accessory: a bottle of peppermint spray!

Peppermint Spray photo by Teague Clements

I put Santa holiday wrapping around a plain spray bottle, then filled it with a mixture of peppermint schnapps and vanilla vodka, tinged a festive green with food coloring.

Ed Barnas Photography

Visit my friend Amber’s NO PANTS 2011 blog.

No Pants December: Day 9

With the weather finally cooling, it’s feeling more like winter. And tonight I headed out into the brisk December evening to attend the SantaConspiring party in Brooklyn. I was obviously saving my big outfit for the big day, but I wanted to look festive. So I put on a pair of red and white stripey tights, added my new $1.50 socks from KMart and my old red Doc Marten Mary Janes. Voila, holiday magic!

I wore the same old black miniskirt I’ve been dragging out of my closet and a red shirt, also something I’ve had on my back about a dozen times over the last month. It didn’t occur to me when I started on this adventure that I don’t have all that many skirts hanging in my closet! Or dresses! At least not “every day” type skirts. Once I start hitting the serious Christmas parties it will be easier; I can look like a Currier & Ives card in minutes…it’s looking like a normal person that’s a stretch! Anyway, I was glad I got my festive on, cause a few other SantaConspirers did as well! HO HO HO!

Visit my friend Amber’s NO PANTS 2011 blog.

Holiday High Holy Day

In The Church of Abby, there are five high holy days: Halloween, The Mermaid Parade, Burning Man, Mardi Gras and SantaCon, which is tomorrow. Every year I do my best to come up with a new costume for each one — or at least alter an old one enough to make it look new. For this year’s SantaCon I’ve gone a bit…overboard. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to come up with something not just new but different and I was feeling the pink and red, a kind of peppermint flavor theme. I’ve spent the last week running around assembling my ensemble and now I’m stressing out about the final details. A friend came up with the hilarious idea of “peppermint spray” as a parody of pepper spray (too soon? Ho! Never!) so I plan to put some schnapps in a spray bottle. I’ve been glue-gunning an enormous crown; it will be a miracle if it makes it through the day in one piece. I bought two yards of hot pink fake fur and then found the exact jacket I’d envisioned at Trash and Vaudeville. Thankfully someone offered to buy the fur from me so I could afford (well, not really…) to buy the coat. When I picked that up, Jimmy gave me the East Village local discount. Huzzah! I mean HO!

The preparations included assisting other Santas with their costumes and crafting, as well as offering a couch for an out-of-town Santa. Now almost everything is arrayed and ready to go, including a red patent leather bag filled with peppermint hard candies and the Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses. I still need to run out and figure out my spray booze. And make sure I get a good night’s sleep. Stay tuned to hear all about the whole ho-ho-ho-ing! And photos!

Pro. Active.

Yes, it’s been a whirlwind since I got home, a blustery love affair with New York City! I’ve over scheduled just about every second: seeing friends, making meetings, mostly dull blind dates and the occasional party. This weekend was especially entertaining.

On Friday, I started with drinks at Cowgirl Hall of Fame with Corinne. She brought along Maria and we dished about post-Guccione Penthouse. I grabbed a cab to Soho and met Sandra at Charles Gatewood‘s photo show. I enjoyed a few penis cookies and vodka cocktails served up by an adorable gay boy.

We regrouped at my apartment before we headed out to the grand opening of Ludlow Manor, a 9,000-square-foot shopping mall of a club, co-owned by my friends Georgie Seville and Luc Carl. The place is truly cavernous. I mean HUGE! Three stories of brand spanking new space. Wow. While enjoying the open bar and delicious passed hors d’oeuvres, I perched on the back of a couch, only to be screamed at by the yuppie harpy sitting on the seat of the couch. Before I knew it I was being kicked out of the club. Kicked out! I didn’t even know what I’d done! I have to say, it was kind of exciting. I can’t recall the last time I was ejected from an establishment. It felt like the old days! Sandra managed to get back inside and, when she encountered the woman who’d freaked out, threw a glass of wine in her face. “Don’t fuck with me,” she told the cranky yuppie, “and don’t fuck with my friends!” As the bouncers closed in to escort her out she told them , “Don’t bother, I’m leaving!” Clearly we aren’t suitable for such fancy places.

I bumbled home and was about to slip into my jammies with Corinne called with a potential business proposition. That entailed a trip to a Soho hotel where I wound up passing out on the bed before she shepherded me to Double Down for a nightcap. Hic!

Saturday night started right back where Friday ended — Double Down — where I met up with a guy from SeniorPeopleMeet. The fact that he had not only heard of Burning Man but had actually been was encouraging and I enjoyed his company. He drove us to A Cavallo’s “TrashBall” in Williamsburg, where the theme was, aptly, garbage. The decor was a disaster, the costumes were totally trashy and the place was packed with sweaty participants. It was awesome! I managed to make it back to my apartment through the throngs of drunken Saturday night revelers on the streets and subway sometime around 4:30am.

And now I’m hard at work, emailing away about my upcoming storytelling appearance at Bare on the 28th, my next Singles’ Mixer on December 1st and my excitement about SantaCon, one of my high holy days. The morning began with not one but two 20-somethings telling me how attractive I am on OKCupid. I suppose I shouldn’t take them too to heart, since one is in Croatia and the other’s in the Ukraine. Ha! I’ll take whatever encouragement I get!

Oh, and if I haven’t said it enough — and punctuated it with an overabundance of exclamation points! — I am loving being back in New York City! One of the (many) ways I feel it parallels my other “home” in Black Rock City is that at it’s very worst it is still the best! The bustling sidewalks, the babble of every imaginable language, people so fashionably oblivious to fashion, all of it! So onward, into the holiday season!

Bah Humbug? Or Ho, Ho, Ho!

Tis the season and the first day of the last month of the year. It’s a time for reflection, yes, and with that often comes depression. The news is full of less-than-good cheer: millions losing their unemployment benefits, blahblahblah. Everything’s conspiring to make us buy, buy, buy with money we don’t, don’t, don’t have. I’m still looking for work, along with a few zillion other Americans. It seems we’re all gonna wind up enslaved to China anyway!

So how to combat the doom and gloom that parallels all the faux ho-ho-ho? I’m buying a Christmas tree for the first time in years; that should contribute to the economy a bit. I’m planning an open house to share my tiny tree with close friends. I’m organizing a small-ish bar crawl, a sort of anti-SantaCon, which should put a few bucks into the coffers of local bars. And I’ll probably participate in some small way in SantaCon, since it isn’t officially Christmas without thousands of drunks stumbling through the streets. I’ll take my annual stroll down Fifth Avenue to see the holiday windows, the Rockefeller Center tree and bask in the hustle and bustle.

I’m looking forward to seeing my sister and her kids here in the city. Manhattan is so festive  this time of year. Even if I can’t afford the good cheer, my sister sure as hell can! Hopefully they’ll include me in some of their celebratory scramblings.

In a month it’ll be 2011 and it can’t come soon enough. This past year hasn’t been my best so I’m looking forward to a whole new year. Til then, let’s deck those halls, shall we?

Tis the Season for SantaCon!

Yeah, sure, the stores were looking a lot like Christmas way back before Halloween but now that it’s almost Thanksgiving, it really is the season! One sure sign that “the goose is getting fat” is when you see that raucous roving band of red and white: SantaCon!

Perhaps you’ve run across them in years past, hundreds of ho-ho-ho’ers decked out as Santa — or the random reindeer, Chanukah Harry, blinking Christmas tree, etc. – on their day-long drunken ramble around Manhattan. Last year the event had five different starting points, “Con”-vening in Washington Square Park from Queens, Hoboken, Staten Island and two Brooklyn locations. Each year the route changes, incorporating outdoor photo ops, indoor drinking and at least one subway ride. I won’t give away any clues about where – or when – this year’s SantaCon will actually happen. That’s up to you to find out! But I can give you shopping tips for turning yourself into a festive variation on the jolly ol’ elf.

One of my favorite spots for quick costuming is KMart. This year they have the usual sexy Santa lingerie but you can also bundle up in holiday turtlenecks embroidered with snowflakes or pointsettias. In their accessories department, you’ll find fabulous holiday handbags with plenty of room to hide your “holiday cheer.” Some of them resemble shopping bags, perfect for Santas of both sexes. I was especially enchanted by their vast selection of Joe Boxer pajamas and found myself musing about dressing up as Cindy Lou Who…

If you’ve already got most of your Mrs. Claus ensemble together, you may need a pair of candy cane tights to finish off your look. I’m a huge fan of The Sock Man on St. Marks. In addition to his usual huge selection, he stocks seasonal socks. (Though, this being the East Village, you can probably find those stripey tights year-round!)

Another great destination for discount prices on fab fashion is Joyce Leslie. They’ve made a successful move from University Place to Broadway and Bond. You’ll find two floors of inexpensive fashions including fake fur neck wraps and hoodie hats, sequined leggings, holiday t-shirts, loads of red and white scarves and mittens, and an entire section devoted to sexy lingerie.

If you’d rather not spring for the full-on fake fur, you can always pick up a cheap pair of red sweats and be “Jogging Santa!” Red jeans, a ripped striped shirt and a motorcycle jacket would make a great “Punk Rock Santa.” Or wrap yourself up and be a present under the tree! Those are just a few ideas. My advice? Be creative!

For those sorely lacking in the imagination department, there’s always Halloween Adventure. They have an extensive selection of Santa attire, from expensive costumes suitable for Macy’s or just that one particular accessory you need to complement your creation. The whole “costume in a bag” approach is completely against my religion but I understand people have got to start somewhere. (I kinda can’t believe we haven’t already seen tees that say “I AM Santa!” like those “This IS my Halloween costume!” shirts.) Also for the unimaginative: the hot pink saucy Miss Santa you’ll find at Victoria’s Secret.

Whatever you wear, do NOT show up in just a Santa hat! You will be mercilessly ridiculed, universally shunned and possibly ejected from the reindeer games. For additional inspiration, you can Google SantaCon images.

The Sock Man
27 St. Marks Place between 2nd & 3rd Aves.

Halloween Adventure (two entrances)
808 Broadway
104 4th Ave. between 11th & 12th Sts.

Joyce Leslie
670 Broadway at Bond St.

Corner of St. Marks Place & 4th Ave.

Victoria’s Secret
565 Broadway between Spring & Prince Sts.

Bowery Birthday & The Box

Tuesday night I accompanied my friend Nick to rock photographer Bob Gruen‘s birthday party. The event was held at R Bar on the Lower East Side — the Bowery, to be exact. My last trip to R Bar was as part of SantaCon and, blinded by all the red and white, I hadn’t noticed then how swanky the joint is! Also, their back room was closed off, which was a real shame, since it has a few stripper poles. And Santa loves stripper poles! But I digress.

Bob decorates his birthday bashes with prints of his photography and this year’s collection was completely comprised of work shot in 2010. There were multiple photos featuring Yoko Ono, Debbie Harry and Billie Joe Armstrong, as well as many of Bob himself with friends and acquaintances. After perusing the prints, I immediately texted my ex: “Bob Gruen’s bday? There’s a shot of Debbie free for the taking!” He’s a big Blondie fan, or, more specifically, a Debbie fan. Nick and I parked ourselves in the back room, behind a stripper pole and in front of the best Debbie pic, and my ex joined us a half-hour later. We hung out and bought each other beers. It’s so grown-up to be on civil terms with one’s ex, no?

The club became progressively crowded with the famous and semi-famous, including Ms. Harry. People kept mistaking me for Gruen’s wife, shaking my hand in congratulations or randomly chatting me up. The only resemblance I can discern is that we both have long blondish hair…and I think she may be almost as tall as I am. I wonder if she’s ever mistaken for me! I said hello to Clem Burke, who Nick had introduced me to during Blondie’s Parallel Lines tour. Other luminaries included Bebe Buell, Leee Black Childers, Victor Bockris, Richard Lloyd, Anthony Haden-Guest, Alison Gordy, Tommy Gunn and BP Fallon.

The Pretty Babies, a Blondie cover band with Tammie Faye Starlite on lead vocals, rocked the house in black blazers and skinny ties. Well, except for Tammie Faye. She was in something suitably skimpy! There were downtown types of every age, size and stripe (literally, stripes!) and a festive birthday cake. One particularly saucy young woman in a fab ’70s-ish maxi dress (when was the last time you even heard the term “maxi dress?”), hell bent on snagging a shot of Iggy Pop, introduced herself. The buxom blonde with her  asked if I was interested in any particular photo. I nodded at the Debbie print behind me. “I’ve been at the last four birthdays and I’ve never gotten the picture I wanted! Take it now!” she ordered with a slur. I demurred, saying I didn’t mind waiting. Whereupon she snatched it off the wall and rolled it up, shoving it at me with an exaggerated sense of urgency. Mr. Gruen was a mere arm’s reach away, shmoozing with one of the women who’d mistaken me for his wife. I tried not to look too embarrassed. But I surreptitiously squirreled the print away in the sleeve of my metallic red motorcycle jacket. And my ex happily toted it home.

I didn’t last too late at the fete; I’d had 11:0pm plans with The Baroness. She met me at R Bar, where we were fabulous for a while, posing for Tina Paul and letting people conjecture about whether we “were somebody” or not. (We are!) Somewhat reluctantly, we strolled a block over to Chrystie, Baroness in her latex and I in my leopard print sweater, headed for The Box. I’d been hearing about the club for years from many of my performer friends who’d been booked there. For some reason, I assumed it was a tacky bottle bar (perhaps because of their big budgets!) packed with pretentious bridge-and-tunnelers, so I’d avoided it. Quel dommage! The place is positively stunning! Intimate and delightfully appointed, including some serious heavy metal accoutrements dans les toilettes, courtesy of The Baroness herself! I could live there! (In the club, not the toilets…) The adorable bartender was wearing a flowing tulle skirt, a strappy leather top and roller blades. Behind the bar! Gorgeous! We only indulged in one beverage, as we decided not to make a late night of it. The evening ended on an amusing note: as we exited the club and were waiting for a gentleman to vacate a taxi, he took a look at us and exclaimed, “You two look exciting!” “We are!” I laughed. “Well, more exciting than me,” he sheepishly admitted. “Without a doubt!” I snapped in retort. It’s always nice to have one’s fabulousness acknowledged.