Song of My Elf


Location: Lower East Side

Rent: $1950/mo. (rent stabilized)

Square Feet: 380

Occupant: Santa Claus (visual artist; singer-songwriter, The Ringers); Mrs. Claus (visual artist; lead singer for The Ringers; manager, Digital Squirrel)

Before we talk about your apartment and how your landlord is a convicted murdererand hates art and looks like your father, let’s hear about the North Pole and why you left after so many years. Was it a lockout? [Santa] It’s a long story, but basically we realized we don’t have to live in the Pole anymore, what with computers and our Web site and e-mail for getting the letters. We can live anywhere. Mrs. Claus always had the big city in her blood. [Mrs. Claus]I love Ludlow. [Santa] She’s wearing hats from Amy Downs. She looks terrific. [Mrs. Claus] He’s become a modernist. [Santa] It happened so fast. [Mrs. Claus] Before you could say ho, ho, he was out pricing oldfloor lamps.

So here you are in New York, though you had to sacrifice space. In the Pole you had a hugesnow palace that was so Doctor Zhivago— like when Julie Christie and Omar Sharif are lying inside that house with the icicles all over it. We loved that movie, too. [Santa] When we first got here, we had all our elves living with us in this sublet in Hell’s Kitchen. [Mrs. Claus] Oy vay! There were 100 of us and one bathroom. [Santa] We all had to sleep in the same bed. Was that comic! [Mrs. Claus] Maybe for you.

So you had less room than the governmentallowance for an orangutan. Speaking of animals, where do you keep Donner and Blitzen and everybody? [Santa] Initially on Pier 40, but I read the Guggenheim is going to build there, so now we got the sleigh, the reindeer, in Williamsburg. Behind a fence. But they keep punching the lock. And Rudolph is having dietary problems. His nose is no longer red.

Nor is yours. Can’t afford the liquor.

Do you know your neighbors? Just one, Frosty the Snowman. He got in the building a few years ago. He called us as soon as something opened up. Of course, it’s fine for him that there’s no heat. Keeps him in shape. Summers are a problem. He goes up to the Catskills and sits in a chilly stream. Now Peter Cottontail, he’s a trust-funder. He and Trish go to his family’s place up in Dutchess County. [Mrs. Claus] Trish did it so nice, all the furniture was made by outsider artist­woodsmen. [Santa] Their side chair threw my back out.

Do you have a weekend place? [Mrs. Claus] Hah! [Santa] No, we’re artists who spend every minute in the city making things. [Mrs. Claus] No beachy shrimp roasts for us. [Santa]No Hudson Valley apple gathering for the Clauses. [Mrs. Claus] We’re here in our studio space in the CSV cultural center on Suffolk. [Santa] We heard Giuliani could auction it off like he did CHARAS. I’d like to stick my xodfouoer up his big ersofsdcxccc. [Mrs. Claus] Santa, really! [Santa] So we’re here in our studio every single day of the year with only one space heater, making small drums and
sugarplum drawer fresheners for everyone in the world— the infirm, the poor, little Timmy.

Where are all the gifts? I don’t see any. [Santa] Ah, we sold everything the first week in December. We needed the dough. We got a table on Houston. We unloaded the sugarplums, then we started working hats, earmuffs, gift tapes. We got boxes of candy canes from a jobber, the small ones, bite-size. We sold everything and now we can relax. [Mrs. Claus]We’ve been going to films. [Santa]Frosty showed us how to get comps. We go to everything that’s free. Even if we don’t want to see it, we go.

How did you meet? [Santa] At an ice-carving party.[Mrs. Claus]I drew him down to me so he could feel all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.