Naughty & Nice

Freaky fun that will have you feeling festive

December 9 through 12, Kaye Playhouse, 68th Street between Park and Lexington avenues, 212.772.4448

The holidays are often a drag, but that's no reason to make traditional choices concerning your holiday drag entertainment. This season Downstairs at Fez offers two dizzy, fizzy options, with Jackie Beat and Holly Woodlawn each hosting their own merry extravaganzas. Woodlawn's A Holly Jolly Christmas promises to spike its theatrical eggnog with something radically festive. The Warhol Factory veteran, who inspired Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side," knows a thing or two about injecting glamour (as well as a few other things) into her histrionic life. What are her yuletide credentials? In this, the season of excess, she boasts a cameo in the film Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence (not to be confused with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, though no doubt she would have been brilliant in that too). Jackie Beat, whose signal talent is ripping her audience members a new one, might not seem to be the coziest of Christmastime company. Yet this self-proclaimed "L.A. personality" actually got her start in a gender-bending performance as Santa Claus in her Scottsdale, Arizona, kindergarten pageant. Don't expect to roast chestnuts on an open fire with this bitch. Consider it a gift if she doesn't roast you. MCNULTY

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;;;;;;

December 10 and 11, A Holly Jolly Christmas; and December 17 through 19, Jackie Beat Is Coming to Town, Fez, 380 Lafayette Street, 212.5333.7000

Have you ever met a New Yorker who didn't embrace—to put it lightly—the right to express an individual opinion? And why should our institutions be any different, even when it comes to holiday decorations? To reflect its populace, the Museum of Natural History's Origami Tree has over 1,000 paper crabs, lobsters, birds, turtles, and dinosaurs mixed in among the lights. On the day of the lighting (November 23), volunteers will be available for origami training if you'd like to try your hand. Up at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the Peace Tree is decorated every year with 1,000 white paper cranes. (Visit the Keith Haring triptych at the altar at St. Francis Xavier's Chapel while you're there.) The tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features a gorgeous Neapolitan baroque crèche. And for good measure we have, at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, the world's largest menorah, lit every night of Hanukkah (December 7 through 15). GROSSMAN

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, 212.535.7710; Museum of Natural History, 79th Street and Central Park West, 212.769.5100; Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, 212.316.7450

Heeb-hop hooray: Junior Boys celebrate the sixth night of Hanukkah at Joe's Pub.
photo: Domino Recording Company

Joe's Pub may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about the holidays, but the artsy, upscale venue is bringing in its share of eccentric cheer in kitschy, musical style. First up, on December 11, is René Risqué & the Art Lovers, the over-the-top rock and cabaret-style performers whose songs include "Not a Top, I'm a Bottom" and "The Giant Sexy Ocean." For a little more Maccabee style, on December 13 Domino Records celebrates the sixth night of Hanukkah with Canada's dark popsters Junior Boys. The duo, along with various musical and comedic guests, will get in touch with their Jewish roots to provide some levity to your menorah lighting. And make sure you catch Tammy Faye Starlite: Tammy Does Loretta, December 16; it's sure to highlight the sultry blonde's conservative roots as she celebrates the war in Iraq as only a true born-again patriot can. With her Angels of Mercy and her tongue firmly in cheek, she'll belt out heartfelt yuletide tunes with the fervor of the newly converted. Expect her to croon with her legs spread wide. For those who want to sing along, December 17 through 19 will find bubbly chick rockers Betty belting out carols from their "sleigh-groovy" new holiday-themed EP, Snowbiz, along with some help from their friends, including classical guitar player Carol Isbin, vocalist Jane Siberry, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. They promise to "naughty up your Noel," and if anyone can live up to that task, it's these three do-anything daredevils. KRAMER BUSSEL

Various dates, Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, 212.539.8500

The pleasantly demented octet Klezska plays island music—or at least Long Island music—that fuses Jamaican ska and reggae with klezmer. Their book ranges from Skatalite-inspired excursions such as John Barry's James Bond theme to more Judaically inclined seasonal skankers like "Chanukah Oh Chanukah" and "Skavanagila." GEHR

December 12, Satalla, 37 West 26th Street, 212.576.1155

That rara avis—a genuinely funny choreographer—David Parker takes on ballet's seasonal warhorse and cash cow, transforming it into a 70-minute tap, toe, modern, flamenco, mime, and Russian disco vaudeville. His Bang Group offers Nut/cracked, a bag of Christmas presents including "a Waltz of the Flowers for people who hate nature," both pop and classical recordings of Tchaikovsky's invasive music, and dancers ranging from ages 14 to 46 who hail from Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and New York, including the usual suspects (like the fabulous Jeffrey Kazin, on pointe) and guests from Ellen Robbins's legendary modern classes for kids. ZIMMER

December 15 through 22, Dance Theater Workshop, 219 West 19th Street, 212.924.0077

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