Naughty & Nice

Freaky fun that will have you feeling festive

In a city that would rather be "blue" than "red" this season, it's good to know that we can still challenge the status quo by forgoing the usual holiday fare in favor of boombox caroling, a reggae-tinged Hanukkah, stripper Santa Clauses, and other offbeat fun. And since many share this sentiment, we've made a list—and checked it twice—in search of some very merry mischief.


In lieu of buying Scruffy another embarrassing sweater this year, make him proud by heading over to activist group Rational Animal's delectable fundraiser, Gingerbread Homes for Animals. Master pastry chefs from the French Culinary Institute and elsewhere will concoct a menagerie of whimsical (and edible!) gingerbread sculptures inspired by everything from reindeer to sea creatures to Snoopy that will be sold by raffle. Proceeds benefit the thousands of "at-risk" and homeless animals of NYC. The five-day exhibition and fair is free and also features workshops and lectures, face-painting, and a bake sale. ASHMAN

Art stars Haunted Pussy hang with J.C. on Orchard Street
Art stars Haunted Pussy hang with J.C. on Orchard Street

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Desperate for free labor, overburdened social-service organizations and underfunded quirky interest groups plead that their work is fun, important, and politically meaningful. If you are seeking such purpose, a change of routine, or to do good this holiday season, opportunities abound for mingling with odd demographics and performing obscure tasks that are sure to satisfy this seasonal urge. New York Cares provides an online database of activities, referring volunteers to targeted tasks of interest and keeping them updated on the latest New York need (Olympics 2012, anyone?). If you are looking for weekly fun, partner up with a wheelchair-bound boogier at the Jewish Home and Hospital for Thursday-night dancing to the "oldies but goodies." Or if you have a flair for fashion and counsel, provide wardrobe supplements and career advice to soon-to-be-employed women at the Bottomless Closet. Feeling overwhelmed by relatives during the holidays? Escape on a brisk walk through Williamsburg with a needy pup from the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition, or tote a bag of bagels through town from a local café to a shelter, as part of City Harvest's hunger-fighting "Street Fleet." Volunteering opportunities vary come springtime, so you can also resolve this New Year's to get dirty dredging the Gowanus with the Urban Divers or vow to weed a local lot with community-garden activists the Green Guerrillas. At Christmas dinner you will be armed with anecdotes sure to bewilder and delight the out-of-towners, and perhaps inspire the locals. COLE


nycares.org; jewishhome.org; bottomlesscloset.org; barcshelter.org; cityharvest.org; urbandivers.org; greenguerillas.org

December 1 through 5, Central Park's Dana Discovery Center, 110th and Lenox Avenue, gingerbreadhomesforanimals.org.


Drag king Murray Hill delights in playing wink-wink with his audiences, and it's never quite clear whether the joke's on you or him—but whether getting wasted onstage, heckling tourists, or singing his heart out, he's always hilarious. Each of his 11 Murray Hill on Ice performances will feature different guest stars, including TV personalities and cool touring bands (think Le Tigre), along with the dancing Murrayettes and bombshell Dirty Martini. Don't expect to sit back and watch passively; you'll surely be sucked right into the glitz and glamour. If you're lucky, Murray might even bake cookies for you! KRAMER BUSSEL

December 4 through 29, Fez, 380 Lafayette Street, 212.533.7000, mrmurrayhill.com


New York is a theatergoer's paradise, but with so many shows to choose from, how do you know where to take your visiting relatives? Well, if they are the sort of people who prefer Tony Danza to Antony and Cleopatra, then the Beacon Theater's sub-lebrity-studded musical version of A Christmas Carol might be for them. Barry Williams (a/k/a Greg Brady) takes time out from his busy schedule of promoting his recent CD, The Return of Johnny Bravo, to tackle the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. He is joined by fellow TVLand cast-offs Jeff Conaway (Taxi) and 227's Jackée Harry. God help us, every one! RABER

Through December 5, Beacon Theater, 2124 Broadway, 212.307.4100


With its myriad borrowings from ragtime, jazz, classical music, and the theater, klezmer remains a deep, rich musical source. And for nearly two decades, pianist Hankus Netsky's 10-piece Klezmer Conservatory Band has been mining the venerably funky genre and subsequently reanimating it with verve, chops, and an ongoing joy of rediscovery. GEHR

December 5, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, 64th Street and Columbus Avenue, 212.721.6500


We all knew boys in bands like Blue Fringe. Well, if you were in NFTY or you summered at Ramah, you did. Tonight those boys, grown up now but still rocking the kippahs off of the kids, come together to serenade the hippie-vibed Heebs, along with sets from multiculti jammers Soulfarm and Israeli import (via L.A.) Moshav Band, whose members grew up in a musical village between the hills of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. (How magical!) What could be better? (Other than a guest appearance by the members of Schlock Rock!) SNOW

December 8, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212.777.6800, irvingplaza.com


Hosted by Little Brooklyn and Creamy Stevens, Starshine Burlesque features some of the best and brightest naughty girls twirling their tassels in unique, imaginative routines, channeling everyone from Pee-wee Herman to kinky mechanics. The saucy, holiday-headpiece-clad Carmen Mofongo will be reworking songs by "old dead white people," while the legendary Jo Boobs is sure to show up in festive attire (or lack thereof). Mima Giggles, Veronika Sweet, and master of escape Eric Hall join the bump-and-grind veterans and have you begging to hang some tinsel on their trees. Expect Santa outfits and bells ringing from unusual places. KRAMER BUSSEL

December 9, Rififi, 332 East 11 Street, 212.677.1027, starshineburlesque.com


Unsilent Night is the perfect event for those looking for some holiday spirit but unable, in good conscience, to stomach another rendition of "Silver Bells"—not even the smokin' Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin version. Downtown composer Phil Kline takes dozens of cassette tapes filled with ethereal sounds of voices and bells and leads a procession of boombox carolers, who each play one of the tapes. The block-long musical parade last year had 100 tape players and 500 who walked along. Growing in notoriety and participants, the 13-year-old ambient cavalcade has spread to other cities and is gracing Manhattan this year with two appearances: December 9 at JCC and December 18 at the traditional starting point, the arch in Washington Square. Interested boombox-wielding participants should contact Kline (boombox@mindspring.com). BOSLER

December 9, JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue, 646.505.4379; December 18, Washington Square Park arch, Fifth Avenue and Waverly Place


The year is 1895, the place is New York City, the ballet is the Yorkville Nutcracker. Francis Patrelle choreographed this appealing version of the Tchaikovsky holiday classic; his cast gleams with guests from the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as members of his own chamber troupe, Dances Patrelle, and students from Ballet Academy East, the Ailey School, and Studio Maestro. The diverse entourage travels by magic sleigh from Mayor William O. Strong's Gracie Mansion to Central Park to the Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and back to the mansion by Christmas morning. ZIMMER

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