Cheap Cheer

I SAW SANTA DRESSED AS MRS. CLAUS

My Aunt Mary always used to say about the holidays: " 'Tis the season to be gay, because Christmas is such a drag!" I never understood this, or why she peed standing up! This year it's all beginning to make sense after a holiday visit with the three queens of decadence: Jackie Beat, Cashetta, and Flotilla DeBarge. A/k/a "Ho, Ho, Ho." They're all fabulous and funny, and always give you just a little more than your average cabaret lady. Visit a winter wonderland with Cashetta's Magical Christmas Show (Sundays, December 8-29; $10), an evening of song, dance, and instead of seltzer in your pants: magic! No poof jokes. Turn the beat around with the realqueen of mean, Jackie Beat. More fun than a bucket of bile (dressed in holiday style, of course), Jackie Beat's Holiday Punch is ready to knock you out for one week only (December 15-18 and December 21 at 8, and December 20 at 10; $18). If you're looking to celebrate the holidays and be politically correct, bring everyone to The Flotilla DeBarge Chanukah-Kwanzaa-Christmas Spectacular (December 1 at 10 p.m. and Sundays at 8 from December 8 to 29; $12), an all-diva dive into the holiday melting pot. Who says they don't make family shows like they used to? Time Café, Fez, 380 Lafayette Street, 533-2680. (ABER)

'EL VEZ CHRISTMAS SHOW'

El-Vez's show is performance-art, comedy/variety, Elvis impersonation (duh!), Latino/Chicano politics, and part pop-culture critique and adulation (sometimes covering and cut-and-pasting artists such as Bowie, Hendrix, James Brown, José Feliciano, Patsy Cline, and the Stooges, to name a few). Expect over-the-top costumes, comedy sketches, plenty of Christmas-themed songs such as "Little Drummer Boy," "En El Barrio (at Christmas Time)," "La Piñata," and his classic: "Brown Christmas." December 6 at 9, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 533-2111. $15. (BOSLER)

'SAGICORN' OR 'CAPRITTARIUS' BIRTHDAY BASHES

For the horoscopically indignant, your dear stick pals whose birthdays fall between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, it seems charitable to toast them with their own parties amid all the other holiday jubilees, no? Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) first, for this is a notoriously exhibitionist sign and because Sagittarians adore splashy air guitar, leading conga lines, and French toast with bloodies. So do not rule out brunch. Capricorns (December 22-January 19) are more meticulous and retiring and tend toward workaholism. So perhaps a civilized kidnapping from the office followed by watercress sandwiches with the crusts cut off, iced sakitinis, and intermittent reports from Standard & Poor's. (RAO)

3-D HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY

Psychedelic Sam, tired of zoning out to the twinkly lights in his apartment, heads to Central Park to jazz things up—literally—courtesy of the Duke Ellington Boulevard Neighborhood Association. Hiding behind a free pair of 3-D glasses, he welcomes the season by dodging all the glittery beams coming at him from the tree. He even fashions a homemade ornament or the gigantic spruce out of hair, dried-up orange peel, and pushpins. After spiking the complimentary hot cider, he pulls out his trusty harmonica and joins the local jazz musicians, then chats up the "Walking Talking Snowman" until Frosty is no longer talking. As the evening comes to a close, he thanks his lucky stars for events that are "free" and "open to the public." Time to start planning New Year's Eve. December 8 at 5:30, plaza at Central Park West and 106th Street, 340-8067. image (BASTIDAS)

THE DECEMBER DILEMMA

As the holidays approach, here's how it's been between my girlfriend and me:

"I'm not wearing the beanie, Sarah, there's just no way!"

"It's a yarmulke for Christ's sake, and you know that!"

"Don't take the Lord's name in vain, especially around Christmas!"

"He's not my lord! A babe in a manger, three 'wise' men following a star—grow up!"

"Oh yeah, light another candle, why don't you—real mature!"

We can't take it anymore, and rather than finding separate apartments, we've decided to seek help from therapist Paul Radensky, an expert on The December Dilemma for Interfaith Couples: What to Do About the Holidays? We'll see what happens—maybe this year my Advent calendar won't be ripped off the wall and torn to shreds. December 9 at 7:30, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, 415-5500. $10. (SWITZER)

'LOS STRAITJACKETS CHRISTMAS PAGEANT: FEATURING THE WORLD FAMOUS PONTANI SISTERS'

'Tis the season for Los Straitjackets! The instrumental surf kings will be twangin', reverbin', and hangin' ten mistletoes all over your holiday faves, such as "Here Comes Santa Claus," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and "Let It Snow." The World Famous Pontani Sisters will be on board as well, looking good and dancin' the go-go aboard Los Straitjackets' reindeer-led UFO. December 13 at 9, SouthPaw, 125 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-230-0236. $12. (BOSLER)

A MURRAY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Murray Hillreturns with a homey celebration any New Yorker will appreciate. Imagine: a cardboard cutout fireplace, a 99-cent tree, a stack of Duraflames, and a mini-fridge stocked with Bud cans. If that doesn't get you misty-eyed, I don't know what will. Along for the snowball fights and Kodak moments will be the Wau-Wau Sisters, Dirty Martini, *Bob*, and many others. December 14 at 9, December 20 at 10, and December 21 at 10, the Cutting Room, 19 West 24th Street, 539-3197. $12. (BASTIDAS)

ICE, ICE BABY

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