With Yuletide almost upon us, Exeposé Features sent resident funnyman and Music Editor, Josh ‘Man Baking’ Gray to meet the visionary director of the whole Christmas project. While Josh is no newcomer to Christmas, the man he meets is a veteran of countless winter holidays, and, as Josh finds out, it might be beginning to take its toll. Prepare to meet… Bad Santa
When I was told I would be joining Saint Nicholas for an exclusive interview I was ecstatic. After all, who hasn’t dreamt about meeting the figure that used to slither down the chimney once a year to creep into your room to stuff your stockings full of tasty treats? Without the annual visit of Old Chubby and his sack of fun, Christmas would consist of naught but ugly relatives and forced conversation, and so I jumped at the chance to thank him in person for saving me from the joys of family reunion and for providing me with that copy of Zoo Tycoon that has kept me entertained ever since.
We arrange to meet at the King Billy at his request. The question “why would Saint Nick, patron of joy, want to meet in such a hive of scum and villainy?” never crossed my mind, so full of foolish boyish enthusiasm was I; and so, surrounded by a sea of glaring EDL-dropouts, I sat down to interview international superstar and sometime-member of rap collective D12: Father Christmas. On this occasion he eschewed his standard red and white winter overalls, opting instead for shades, brown slacks and a Tupac t-shirt drawn tightly over his vast gut. “I ain’t taking questions on ‘Elf and Safety’” he grunts before I have a chance to speak, referring to his ongoing court case with the workers’ rights union. I assure him I intended no such thing, only for him to lean forward until his face is just inches from mine. I smell the unmistakeable Christmas stench of brandy and pies on his breath and it slowly dawns on me that this man is drunker than I am.
“Are you religious, boy?” he growls with a voice blacker than the most charred Christmas pudding in history. I insist that I am not, and he retreats back somewhat. But, despite his dark glasses, I can tell his eyes are boring into my soul. “Never had any truck with faith of any kind,” he wheezes, pulling a large red handkerchief from his grubby pocket and coughing black phlegm into it, “hokey religion’s no match for a cool mil in your bank account. Pure, hard free market capitalism is the only religion worth a damn”. Somewhat shocked by this, I ask how he can make money off a holiday based around generosity and love. “S’easy” he guffaws, “sponsorship and merchandise! Every Coca-Cola advert that tells you it’s Christmas time, that’s $3 million American dollars transferred to an offshore bank account in Lapland. Every shopping centre I visit, I charge £100 per child’s dream come true. Every Santa-shaped chocolate you buy is paying for my holiday house in Tuscany. I’ve got a good system going”.
I attempt to bring the subject round to the good cheer of Yuletide, but Father Christmas is having none of it. “I fucking hate Christmas”, he roars, “Fucking kids with their letters as long as your arm, asking for the latest Rizzle Kicks book or whatever. Get a job you bunch of hippies!” He laments the contractual obligations of Christmas Eve, but admits that most of the heavy lifting is now done by imported labour, “I don’t like the labourers, but they’re ready to work for a damn sight less than those money-grabbing elves”. He begins the laborious process of constructing the biggest, dirtiest rollup I’ve ever seen as our conversation moves to the controversial topic of toy manufacturing. “We’ve outsourced most of the actual toy construction for tax reasons”, he admits as he sprinkles some leaves of what looks suspiciously like crushed mistletoe into his open -ly like crushed mistletoe into his open fag before rolling it up and licking the side with a tongue as yellow as a patch of snow that a passing cat has pissed on. A brief altercation with the barman ensues when he tries to light up inside, but eventually Santa concedes and heads outside screaming “Nothing but coal for your kids this Christmas!” along with some imaginatively festive swearwords, many of which seem to involve involuntary reindeer copulation.
After he calms down, I try to ask him what his favourite thing about the Christmas season is. This seems to cheer him up, “The women”, he leers, “especially where the beginning of advent also marks the start of bikini season. A couple of them and a few bottles of French Hennessy Cognac to keep me company in my sleigh is all I really want for Christmas”. I hastily change the subject to his plans for Christmas future, a move that, in hindsight, wasn’t wise. “What you’ve got to understand, boy, is that Christmas isn’t a holiday, it’s an industry, a business. The most perfect business model in the world! Me and the board of supermarkets met last week to discuss how we can minimise costs and maximise income, and we had some ruddy brilliant ideas flying about”. I listen in open-mouthed astonishment as the Jolly Fat Man outlines his plans for Christmas monopoly, which include a drive to begin advertising “just after New Year, so those bollocking furniture stores stop stealing the money we could be taking off the unsuspecting public”; the introduction of a ‘Santa Prime’ service which would require anxious parents to pay a healthy subsidy to receive their children’s gifts on the morning of the 25th rather than 3-5 working days after (an initiative that Father Christmas insists will “encourage those tight-arsed working classes to pry their wallets open and start doing a little giving”); and a plan to expand into the burgeoning Middle Eastern market by replacing his long-serving reindeer with a caravan of camels.
Now thoroughly disillusioned with the whole idea of Christmas spirit, I choke back the tears of sad disappointment welling in my eyes to ask Father Christmas about his numerous side-projects, which include his now defunct symphonic metal outfit Sleigher (“we’ll be back with a new album as soon as Rudolph’s out of rehab”), his reality TV show Ho Ho Ho: Girls Gone Wild (“there’ll be a new series once this women’s rights fad fades away”) and his series of workout videos Chimney Slim (“I’ll bring out a new one when some fitties start buying it, I can’t abide signing DVDs for fat chicks”). I am unable to ask Father Christmas about his most recent foray into the world of acting in the now inevitably postponed Michael Bay blockbuster Santa vs. Killer Robots From Space. In this film which Father Christmas was due to star alongside Miley Cyrus and Morgan Freeman, as apparently “shit got too real”.
Sensing that he desperately wants the subject changed, I ask Father Christmas what he’s got planned for the post-festive season. “A bit of this and that,” he replies “I do a lot of work in the under developed African countries”. Amazed, I ask which charities he works with, “Charities?” he throws back his head and roars with laughter, “Ho ho ho! You wouldn’t catch me dead wasting time with those bloody charities. I was talking about my diamond business!” Disheartened once more, I resign myself to the misery every person gets when their childhood hero turn out to be very different in person. Santa goes on to list his numerous business contacts, who seem to range from Russian oligarchs to the Easter Bunny, “Me and EB go waaay back, we met at one of Stalin’s shindigs back in the day. Now there is a cat who knows how to plan a party”.
I leave the interview still feeling shell-shocked from the meeting I have just had. Was it all a bad dream? Would I wake up tomorrow refreshed in a bright colourful world where Father Christmas embodies the hopes and desires of all the world’s children? While considering the merits of memory suppression I feel the light patter of snow on my shoulders. I tear myself from my inner musings to look around, and what a sight meets me. The streets are white and glistening, a children’s choir sings by John Lewis and a jolly robin lands on the wall by my hand. As I reach out my hand to my feathery friend, I suddenly hear a roar like a tortured beast behind me and spin around… but there’s nothing there. “Up here boy”, sounds the familiar booming voice, and I look up to see Father Christmas. The roar is emanating from his hovering motorbike, a grotesque machine that looks like it’s been constructed out of a dead reindeer’s carcass (I later realise this must have been why it could fly). “I couldn’t let you leave without an early Christmas treat”, he guffaws as he throws a parcel down into my waiting arms. Flushed with childlike joy I open the parcel, thinking that maybe I had been wrong about this jolly man. Inside the wrapping paper I find… an advent calendar full of reindeer droppings. “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas”, guffaws Saint Nick, and with that final parting cry he puts his foot down and he and his skeleton-bike shoot into the night, leaving behind him a cloud of black smoke that covers the previously pearl-white tableau. The smog cleared to reveal a group of crying carollers, a dead grey robin and a tattered fallen banner bearing the legend ‘Christmas is coming’.
Josh Gray, Music Editorbookmark me