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

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

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


Haunted Pussy aren't your average band. More musical-theater than rock, these spooky art stars relate the tale of an abandoned rich girl who's raped by a ghost, who impregnates her. Using screams, catfights, gore, and a wailing guitar, their holiday show will have Haunted Pussy befriending Jesus, played by Michael Portnoy, a/k/a Soybomb, in "a story of triumph." Expect Jesus to engage in blasphemous sexual acts and enjoy them. Not for the faint of heart, Pussy's "histrionic fear-metal" will offend some, but for the rest, this'll be a special night of filthy irreverence sure to skewer Christianity and complacency. KRAMER BUSSEL

December 16, 180 Orchard Street, hauntedpussy.com


The peerless New York Gay Men's Chorus celebrates its 25th anniversary at Carnegie Hall with an evening of fun and fabulous holiday carols. Over its history, the chorus has performed everything from classical Bach pieces to show tunes to glitzy new wave hits; '80s pop princess Cyndi Lauper once made a guest appearance as a vocalist. In the "Twisted Holiday" special of years past, the group added some much-needed flavor to the old chestnuts ("Rudy, the Rude, Rude Reindeer"; a sexy, gender-bending version of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"). Expect some of those at this year's "Silver Bells" incarnation. DAYAL

December 16, Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue, 212.247.7800


The ho-ho-ho cheer this post-election yuletide season will feel decidedly more duplicitous and, mixed in with evangelical sentiments, heavy-handed. Christmas in Nickyland 2004, like last year, should provide an irreverent, satirical antidote. Curated by La MaMa's own minister of culture Nicky Paraiso, the lineup-in-formation includes the East Village gay boy band the Isotoners, performance artist John Fleck, Marga Gomez doing her Christmas monologue, Little Annie singing her inimitable holiday tunes, and the non-saintly Nicky himself. With its undercurrent of welcome decadence, this anti-Christmas Xmas celebration won't only be joyous, it might even prove ecstatic. FRANCIA

December 16 through 19, the Club @ La MaMa, 74A East 4th Street, 212.475.7710


Befitting an ecumenical "symbolic journey through the longest night of the year," Paul Winter's 25th Anniversary Winter Solstice Celebration showcases three hours of musical oddities: uilleann piper Davy Spillane, hand drummer Glen Veldez, and a metallic "tree" weighted with percussive instruments. Improvisational Russian village singers the Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble wheel in an oversized "Earth Ball" while the Forces of Nature Dance Theater Ensemble beats gamelan gongs ("planets") as the tam-tam sun gong and Chinese wind gong (the "moon") boomingly ascend to opposite ends of the gigantic Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The celebration ends in a full-cathedral new-agey sing-along. COLE

December 16 through 18, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue and West 112th Street, 212.581.1212


If Christmas music makes you instinctively cover your ears and howl, you're in good company. But, hey, the family's in town and you've got to take them somewhere, so why not head over to the Museum of Television and Radio for Holiday Hits, a screening of some pop-star Christmas crooning? There'll be Bing Crosby for old folks, Jessica Simpson for 12-year-old girls, and Elvis for everyone else, plus David Bowie (singing "Little Drummer Boy" with Bing), the Supremes, and more. And remember, Christmas music isn't all goopy sentimentality—Irving Berlin tried to keep Elvis's 1957 version of "White Christmas" off the radio because it was "vulgar and disrespectful." Sounds good, huh? GLASS O'SHEA

December 17, Museum of Television and Radio, 25 West 52nd Street, 212.621.6800, mtr.org


The poems, stories and comics in Christmas at The New Yorker evoke a bizarre, barely recognizable New York of butlers, wreaths, and generally unhampered good spirit. In his off-puttingly cheery foreword, John Updike describes Manhattan as the Christmas-lit capital of the world, citing a number of influential holiday treatises—many written by New Yorkers, about New York, often for The New Yorker. As part of Symphony Space's "Just Kidding!" series, Roger Angell, Malachy McCourt, James Naughton, and Tony Roberts will continue with the uncharacteristic merriness, "digging out the trusty metaphors" as they read December "obbligatos" from the magazine's past 80 years. AVIV

December 19, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, 212.864.1414


Nothing is sacred at Heeb Storytelling, Heeb magazine's popular series where cabaret meets Catskills in seven-minute true-ish tales told by some damn funny Jews. The anti-silent-night show features original stories by Daily Show writer Eric Drysdale, VH1 DJ Bex Schwartz, humorist Peter Hyman, Michael "Soybomb" Portnoy, comedian Dana Kletter, literary rock stars One Ring Zero and more. What, you'd rather be stringing popcorn? ROSENBLUM

December 22 at 7, Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, 212.539.8778, joespub.com.


The holidays can become mildly predictable; this year why not mix it up with the Miss Scandal 2004 Pageant, at Scandals, a gentlemen's club in Queens? Porn legend Ron Jeremy hosts this yuletide-themed strip and beauty pageant (complete with ball gowns, talent show, and swimsuit competition), and suspense will escalate until Angie, Britney, Barbie, Shy, or Sophia is crowned the winner. Festive decor continues throughout the season: Wreaths adorn the walls, tables are covered in virginal white satin, and those booty-shaking dancers—who'd rather you be naughty then nice—don Santa-inspired outfits. Admission is $20. PHILLP

December 23, Scandals Gentlemen's Club, 24-03 Queens Plaza North, Long Island City, Queens, 718.784.5600


I'd invite you over to swill Manischewitz martinis and sup on pupu platters, but my apartment is tiny, the TV is minuscule, and we'd all have to get really cozy on my little blue couch. Makor, however, will welcome you, tatele, with open arms, a mandate to nosh on the Chinese-food buffet, and projection screens showcasing two cute Jews. Ben Stiller takes a turn in The Royal Tenenbaums at 8 and Zoolander at 10, while the older yentas can oogle Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles at 8 and Young Frankenstein at 9:45. SNOW

December 25, Steinhardt Building, 35 West 67th Street, 212.601.1000, makor.com

Dust off that kinara and grab those mishumaa saba, 'cause Kwanzaa is back—and the American Museum of Natural History is once again on the scene with its free annual Kwanzaa Festival. Actor-singer Kevin Anthony and KISS-FM's Diana King host the all-day event that includes a performance by the Creative Dance Theatre of Brooklyn, face painting and other activities for the kiddies, and an African marketplace boasting goods from Nigeria to the Caribbean. Plus, if you happen to get hungry, Kwanzaa fare will be sold. 'Tis the season for nguzo saba! FRANKLIN

December 26, American Museum of Natural History, Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, 79th Street and Central Park West, 212.769.5315

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