To you and me (at least, to me), Santa Claus is about as arousing as a teddy bear. But for some people, the combination of a curly white beard, rosy cheeks, and wire-rimmed glasses is irresistible. Christmas can’t come early enough – when it does, so do they.
As with all seemingly implausible genres of smut, the Internet contains no shortage of Santa-themed porn and erotic fiction, for those inclined to look. Lauren Graham’s character in Bad Santa memorably chanted “Fuck me, Santa” while banging a red-suited Billy Bob Thornton. Just last week, Miley Cyrus grinded her ass into Santa at the Z100 Jingle Ball. There is even, for some reason, a novelty song called “Santa Fetish.”
The prohibitive cost of a plane ticket to the North Pole – and the inconvenient existence of a Mrs. Claus – makes consummating this fetish relatively difficult. Fortunately, that’s where Kris Kringle’s southerly, mortal avatar comes in: the shopping mall Santa.
After graduating from college, Kevin played Santa for one season in a suburban mall outside of Ottawa. He estimates that 10 percent of his visitors were adults, primarily women. It didn’t take long before a female customer, perched on his knee, quietly told him how much she’d like to fuck Santa, and how she was going to do it.
At first, he was shocked. Then it happened again. And again. Though it remained a “bizarre, dislocating experience,” he now looks back on these encounters as harmless. Kevin would meet a Santa fetishist as often as two out of every three shifts. He even came to recognize the type.
“Normally they were 30somethings, fairly conservatively dressed. They probably worked in an office,” he said. “The exact person that you wouldn’t expect it from.”
Each waited patiently for her turn, then spouted all kinds of seasonal filth with a smile. Some would come in pairs, “one in each ear.” One woman calmly delineated her intentions to tag-team him with her roommate. They would share their desires to get their stockings stuffed, trees trimmed and gingerbread frosted – you get the picture – with what Kevin calls “XXX-rated full description, in as much detail as time would allow them to explain it.”
Kevin isn’t sure of the exact nature of Santa’s apparent sexual magnetism, though there’s certainly an erotic thrill to be found in talking dirty to a stranger in public, with social impunity and anonymity. He notes that these monologues didn’t seem improvised, but were clearly the result of extensive practice.
You might be surprised to learn that Kevin never considered pursuing any of these women. “Once the costume comes off, that part of your life is over,” he said. “They weren’t interested in me, they were interested in the suit.” (Then again, as Kevin wrote in a Reddit AMA two years ago, “Any woman that will sit on Santa’s lap and whisper fantasies into his ear is hot. Period.”)
As far as Kevin is concerned, everyone expects something different from a shopping mall Santa. “The experience a teenager wants to have when they talk to a Santa Claus is not like a 5-year-old who’s just full of magic. You have to let them be themselves and walk away with the happiest experience they could have,” he explained.
To ensure that even the horniest visitors would have their own “happiest experience,” he took on the role of a passive listener: “When you’re playing Santa Claus, you have to behave like Santa Claus. Santa Claus isn’t going to start talking dirty to anybody.” He rarely offered any response beyond a smile and jolly nod, though he’d occasionally let loose with a resonant “ho, ho, ho.” He doesn’t know if anyone ever realized the double meaning.
Ivan Jenson is an artist and comedic poet (who wants everyone to know his collection Media Child and Other Poems will be published this month by Hen House Press), but at 18, he dreamed of becoming a singer-songwriter. He jumped at the chance to sign with a talent agency, and couldn’t have been more thrilled when they called to offer him work. But it wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, “They had a gig for me to be Santa at the White Plains Galleria, and there was no time to think. If I wanted the job, it was the next morning, starting at 7.”
He decided to take it. “I always thought I was going to be a rock star, but instead I was going to be Santa,” Jenson said. As it turned out, there wasn’t much difference.
Ivan was easily the mall’s youngest Santa, and with the help of a permanent coffee and Diet Coke-induced caffeine high, he quickly became its most popular. He fully committed to the character, spreading cheer in a merry, Jimmy Stewart-inflected baritone. To Ivan’s surprise, the long lines during his shifts began to fill with grown women anxious to climb into his lap. He had “groupies.”
Giggling high school girls queued alongside young mothers, who’d insist on posing for their own photos with Ivan after he’d already sat with their children. “I was definitely the man to see at the mall,” he said. One woman left a note with his manager that read, “Santa, I want to meet you. Meet me at McDonald’s after your shift.” He eagerly obliged, but ironically never found her.
“It was a note handed to my manager, who handed it to me. She didn’t know who I was out of my outfit, and I didn’t know who she was,” he explained. “So that didn’t work out.”
As with Kevin, Ivan met some women who’d simply purr into his ear (“How does this feel, having me on your lap?”), while others would openly hit on him. For what it’s worth, Ivan – who recalls that he was a “hormone-infused” teenager – pointed out that the costume’s thick padding would conveniently “cover any arousal.” Flirting back was tricky, considering it had to be done in character. His solution was to “broadcast” everything as much as possible. “Santa’s really enjoying your company,” he’d bellow. “Write down your number and give it to my elves.”
The elves, too, were uniformly female – and uniformly attractive. The unwieldy nature of his costume meant they were effectively at his beck and call, fetching the aforementioned coffees and Diet Cokes. “I was all in red, I was wearing velvet, I was in a velvet chair. I felt like Hugh Hefner,” Jenson told me. With the exception of the other Santas, he was entirely surrounded by women, including his manager. His interactions with them were minimal, although Ivan was once nearly forced to borrow a beard from a fellow St. Nick with an enormous cold sore on his lip.
Though he’d suffered a “dry spell” before taking this job, Ivan dated multiple women whom he met in character as Santa, including fellow mall employees. Sometimes he’d see a girl who worked at Taco Bell for lunch, then schedule dinner with another groupie after his second shift. One fan, a cute “librarian type,” became a serious girlfriend. She was a virgin, and she found his costume incredibly sexy. Lucky for her, the mall considered it his to keep. “I was dressed in my Santa outfit the night I deflowered her,” Ivan said. “She lost her virginity to Santa.”
Ivan can personally attest to the existence of the Santa fetish. “It’s the older man, May-December relationship. He’s the ultimate sugar daddy. He’ll shower you with gifts,” he said.
Whatever the source of Mr. Claus’ appeal, it seems unlikely that any other holiday character will ever achieve sex symbol status. The same mall would later ask Jenson to come back and play the Easter Bunny. He turned them down.
“That’s not nearly as sexy,” he said. “Santa I’ll take, but Easter Bunny I’ll pass.”