By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Jaded New Yorkers bored with the usual holiday fare take heed. No need to ooh and aah at big trees and sleep through dancing fairies in order to indulge the family. We're here to help. Our list of seasonal entertainment is filled with gay Santas, boozing reindeer, and other offbeat fun. And if you decide not to venture out until 2006, we've got some long DVDs to keep you busy till then. Enjoy!
'A Very Bette Christmas'
Welcome to bitchery beneath the mistletoe. Novelist Elizabeth Fuller, who once played host to Bette Davis during an impromptu month-long stay, imagines the difficult Ms. Davis as star of a 1962 televised special. Through song, story, and hissed aside, famed female impersonator Tommy Femia will play Bette as she cows co-host Joan Crawford and spars with the show's director. SOLOSKI
Through Jan 8, Don't Tell Mama, 343 W 46th, 212-757-0788
'The Eight: Reindeer Monologues'
Apparently Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, et al. get up to some fairly kinky reindeer games. In this series of monologues by Jeff Goode, Santa's eight-deer team gathers on-stage and dashes away eggnog-curdling confessions of boozing, bestiality, and the indignities suffered at the hands of Santa Claus. Come buck the Christmas spirit. SOLOSKI
Through Dec 17, Red Room, 85 E 4th, 212-868-4444
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dreamy and even a little grotesque, the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights seem to get increasingly elaborate every year. By mid December, the lawns on Tenth Avenue are littered with high-voltage dioramas, 20-foot toys, and life-size reindeer. Approximately 100,000 people visit each season (many in SUVs)it's best to walk, not drive. AVIV
83rd & 84th sts, btwn Tenth & 13th aves, Bklyn
'The Baby Jesus One-Act Jubilee'
If exchanging shiny commodities and drinking too much at the office party are popular ways of celebrating the birth of the Christ, then commissioning a one-act-play festival to honor his natal day isn't such an odd choice. Williamsburg's Brick Theatre presents 12 15-minute plays in two programs: "Shepherds" and "Magi." SOLOSKI
Dec 1 through 17, Brick Theatre, 575 Metropolitan Ave, Bklyn, 718-907-3457
Mary Fulham, an original member of the '80s all-girl comedy act the High Heeled Women, directs a multimedia play about nine daughters who can't stop doing ballet. It's like the Grimm fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," except the sisters are "drugged out," fond of beer, and live in New Jersey. AVIV
Dec 1 through 18, La MaMa E.T.C., 74A E 4th, 212-475-7710
'Celebrating Fifty Years of Jim Henson & the Muppets'
Whether you're five or 55, the odds are good you've been charmed by one of Henson's colorful, furry oddballs. (Even our government's given them accolades with their own postage stamp!) This two-month retrospective celebrates Henson's creationsKermit, Miss Piggy, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monsterwith rare screenings of specials (many holiday related, such as The Great Santa Claus Switch), episodes, clips, and gems from various TV appearances. BOSLER
Dec 2 through Jan 26, Museum of Television & Radio, 25 W 52nd, 212-621-6800, mtr.org
Holiday Cooking Courses
Caught in a teary rush of sentimentality, many people with absolutely no culinary talents volunteer to cook massive Christmas feasts every year. Looking out for the guests, the Institute of Culinary Education offers several one-day courses on various kinds of holiday food, including ham, cakes, stews, puddings, biscuits, and eggnog. AVIV
Dec 3 through 31, Institute of Culinary Education, 50 W 23rd, 212-847-0700
'4th Annual Gingerbread on Broadway'
After spending hundreds of hours creating new candy forms, students from various culinary schools across the East Coast will showcase their best attempt at a gingerbread home. In previous years, the chefs have created more colorful versions of the Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park carousel. AVIV
Dec 5, New York Marriott Marquis, 1535 Bway, 212-398-1900
Holiday Poetry Book Sale
The largest poetry library in the country offers a "maddeningly various" selection of obscure journals, recordings, and chapbooks, some of them written at the beginning of the century. Many of these books (which sell for $7 or less) are long out of print and impossible to purchase elsewhere. AVIV
Dec 9 & 10, Poets House, 72 Spring, 212-431-7920
'A Christmas Carol'
What with Tiny Tim's crippling illness, Jacob Marley's rattling chains, and the spooky Ghost of Christmas Future, we've always found Dickens's story a rather creepy holiday classic. But the family-oriented Theatreworks/NYC has tempered the tale into a musical appropriate for children five and up. With a live band and a cast of Broadway vets, audiences won't likely be saying "Bah, humbug." SOLOSKI
Dec 10 through 31, Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher, 212-279-4200
'Original Holiday Doo-Wop Extravaganza'
Ever wonder where all the boybands of a few years back stole their moves and vocal harmony ideas from? Your ole uncle Barney knows, and b'gosh, instead of getting him another bad tie or shaving kit this season, treat him to a time-machine ride to his past via Dick Fox's doo-wop holiday show. Featuring (the probably not-so-young) Frankie Lymon's Teenagers, Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge, and Kenny Vance & the Planotones. BOSLER
Dec 10, 8 pm, North Fork Theatre, Westbury Music Fair, 960 Brush Hollow Rd, Westbury, NY, 516-334-0800
Early Music New York
Dressed in black and holding various excit- ing medieval instruments like shawm and sackbuts, the men's vocal ensemble will sing 14th-century motets in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's 20-foot Christmas tree. Many of their songs honor the Good King Wenceslas, the Duke of Bohemia, born in 907 and murdered on his way to church. AVIV
Dec 11, Medieval Sculpture Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave, 212-570-3949
'Red Hot Holiday Stomp'
Wynton's Crescent City Christmas card always makes the cut at my house during holiday time. This show looks to be a live update of the same. Second-lining through "Sleigh Ride" could be a thrill, and I bet the teamwhich includes Wycliffe Gordon, Joe Temperly, Victor Goines, and banjo player Don Vappiewill put a little Preservation Hall polyphony on the book. They also plan to romp through pieces by that "Spanish Tinge" Santa, Jellyroll Morton. MACNIE
'Twas the Night Before the Twelve Days of a Nutcracker Christmas Carol'
In Ken Nintzel's last piece, Lapse, he used a Hallmark's worth of crepe centerpieces and paper chains to depict a year in the life of a coma patient. Though he's now concentrating exclusively on Christmas, this show recombines several seasons worth of holiday song and lore. SOLOSKI
Dec 15 through 25, PS122, 150 First Ave, 212-352-3101
'Jewish Soul Celebration'
With popular songs like "Go Down Moses" and "Observant Jew," Joshua Nelson, the self-described Prince of Kosher Gospel Music, hopes to "spearhead a new revolution in Jewish liturgical" tunes. In a womanly voice, he performs a combination of soul, klezmer, and prayerit's the sound of "suffering speckled with joy." AVIV
Dec 17, Symphony Space, 2537 Bway, 212-864-5400
Sometime this December (the organizers are very secretive), more than 400 men and women, dressed as Santas, will wander drunkenly through the streets "for absolutely no reason whatsoever." Go to santacon.com to keep track of this "not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious, and non-logical Santa Claus convention." AVIV
TBA, various venues, santacon.com
'The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players . . . on Ice!'
Those few who believe slide shows are the province of sleepy, high school biology classes or glassy-eyed evenings at Grandpa's have clearly never seen a Trachtenburg Family show. In these incomparably indie evenings, Dad sings, Mom runs the slide carousel, and nine-year-old Rachel drums and narrates. Occasionally, there are cupcakes. This latest incarnation features holiday-themed visuals and live skating. SOLOSKI
Dec 18 through 23, P.S.122, 150 First Ave, 212-352-3101
"You will love itit's totally your kind of music, that hard metal stuff . . . but you know, for Christmas!" says Mom. She may be way off on what you like, but there could be far worse ways to experience a holiday musical. Created by heavy-metal producer Paul O'Neill, TSO is the Polar Express of rock operas, tailor-made for prog-metal lovers, aging rockers, kids, and any/all fans of showy Broadway spectacles. Expect exuberantly electrified Christmas songs aplenty, especially tunes from their most recent, The Lost Christmas Eve. BOSLER
Dec 19, Madison Square Garden, Seventh Ave & 32nd, 212-465-MSG1
'The Beat Goes On: A Rock 'n' Glitter Xmas'
Favorite local musicians including Willie Nile ( Beautiful Wreck of a World), Don Fleming, actor-singer Carlton Smith, folk duo the Kennedys, and surprise guests take the stage to perform some classic holiday ditties from the Yule logoops, catalogof rockers, including the Ramones, the Pretenders, Paul McCartney, XTC, James Brown, and much more. ABER
Dec 21, B.B King Blues Club & Grill, 237 W 42nd, 212-997-4144, bbkingblues.com
Santa Claus Is Coming Out, or How the Gay Agenda Came Down My Chimney'
Historically, Santa makes lists of naughty and nice, rather than straight and gay. But Jeffrey Solomon puts the "ho, ho, ho" in homosexuality in this one-man show, in which a boy's wish for a doll somehow outs Santa. (What will Mrs. Claus say?) SOLOSKI
Dec 21 through 23, Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing MeadowCorona Park, Qns, 718-760-0064
Sledding at Riverside Park
Sledding is rarely as fun as it's supposed to besnow mysteriously sneaks up your sleeves, or down your boots, and the walk up the hill is too long. If you insist on trying, the slopes at Riverside Park are the steepest (far better than Central Park), and some even have what enthusiasts call "moguls" (e.g., bumps, sticks, rocks). Enter at 91st or 108th for the best ride. AVIV
Riverside Park at 91st or 108th
Small talk and desperate jokes come more easily when you're a Jew on Christmas Eve. Hosted by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals, this party is good for '80s tunes, kosher sandwiches, and drunken, desperate coupling. Gentiles can join too. AVIV
Dec 24, Capitale, 130 Bowery, 888-633-5326
Wave Hill Conservatory
Like a giant sauna with flowers, the Wave Hill Conservatory is a comforting place to go when the weather begins to dip below freezing. With temperatures around 80 degrees, you can simultaneously walk, talk, and look at nature without having to constantly adjust all your baggy winter clothes. AVIV
Wave Hill Conservatory, 675 W 252nd, Bx 718-549-3200
'Chinese Food and a Movie on Christmas Day: Born to Be Wilder'
Watching movies (doing anything) is always better while sporadically and thoughtlessly snacking. Making good on the most beloved of Jewish clichés, Makor hosts a Christmas evening of unlimited Chinese food in the movie theater. The center will screen Young Frankensteinand Silver Streak, starring Gene Wilder (born Jerome Silberman), and director Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot and The Apartmentperfect pick-me-ups for an otherwise lonely day. AVIV
Dec 25, Steinhardt Building, 35 W 67th, 212-601-1000, makor.com
Coney Island Polar Bear Club's Annual New Year's Day Swim
To understand the joys of diving repeatedly into freezing cold water, join the country's oldest winter-swimming organization on Coney Island beach every Sunday. Wearing nothing but a bathing suit and neoprene surf boots, members of the group dip into the Atlantic while onlookers cheer. On January 1, hundreds of people will join the club for a painful yearly ritual, featuring plenty of screaming. AVIV
Every Sun through May & Jan 1, Coney Island Beach, 718-356-7741, polarbearclub.org