Oh good. Let's just get all of our holiday nightmares out at once.
December 8, 2016 10:02 PM   Subscribe

30 Creepy Mall Santas. (Distractify) 16 more. (Buzzfeed) Another 14. (The FW) 10 more. (Top Tenz) Last one. (Macy's) posted by Johnny Wallflower (13 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In Sweden, in December, one sees shop-windows decorated with more-or-less Santa-like jultomtar (Christmas gnomes). Some of these can appear creepy to non-Swedish eyes: my personal favourite.
posted by misteraitch at 1:49 AM on December 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Speaking as an amateur Santa myself, it's not really fair to blame Santa for screaming kids --- blame the parents instead: if a kid isn't thrilled to be going up to Santa in the first place, they'll be rightfully terrified when plopped in his lap!

And I'm happy to say the worse of the horrific Santas appear to be bad costumes from the 1950s; thankfully those awful masks are long out of fashion.
posted by easily confused at 4:40 AM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

To be fair, Distractify's mobile interface, with its annoying barrage of ads, will terrify more children than a phalanx of Santa-ghouls. Puts the "ho ho ho" back in "horrify."
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:55 AM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

There's a man that works at my work (a large hospital, so unfortunately I rarely get to see him) who is a perfect, jolly, red-faced santa. He seems to be very well aware of this, because he wears Christmas suspenders year-round.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:22 AM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

With malls disappearing and all, are there still "mall santas," and do they still hire alcoholic and homeless guys for that? The buzzfeed photos mostly look like they're from the 60s and 70s.
posted by spitbull at 5:33 AM on December 9, 2016

With malls disappearing and all, are there still "mall santas,"

My brother-in-law lives in strip-mall-hell in South Jersey. We're visiting this weekend, and they want us to take the kids for pictures with Santa. At the Bass Pro Shop. Because that's evidently where Santa is now.

I assume Bass Pro Santa brings presents in a boat pulled by Evinrudolph the Red-Nosed Outboard.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:42 AM on December 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

The semipro Santa in this Judge John Hodgman podcast episode sounds like a straight-up guy who takes the gig seriously. (True anecdote: walking with my partner through a shopping mall a couple years ago and I overhear the mall Santa greeting a child and I go "holy shit, it's that guy!" to my wife, and then I had to explain what I meant by that.)
posted by ardgedee at 6:10 AM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mall Santa is still a thing at large pet stores too, so families can get pictures with the "kids". I was a Santa for a couple of years on behalf of the local humane society -- profits from the pictures went to them. My experience is that there's little difference in potential-freaked-outedness and odds-of-being-piddled-on between dogs and kids.
posted by Quindar Beep at 7:39 AM on December 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

spitbull: most mall Santas are very much not homeless guys, they're folks who are dedicated to the character and serious about the gig. There was one here in northern Virginia who was a carpenter in Tennessee most of the year, but he'd earn something like $50K (yep: fifty thousand dollars!) per Christmas season just doing six weeks' of Santa at the same major mall each year.

Pro Santas can easily spend $10K-$12K per year just on suits --- a good custom-tailored pro suit can run to $3-$5k each, and a busy mall Santa will need two or three a year. (Always with extra pairs of lined pants, 'cause some of the smaller kids.... well, Santa gets pee-ed on now and then....) Then there's the rest of the gear: things like leather boots and belts plus a lot of gloves (they get dirty easily and are hard to keep really pristine-white). Then there's training: there are a number of Santa schools that hold classes year-round to teach both Santas and Mrs. Clauses. Also --- because the best Santas are 'real beard' Santas --- there's personal grooming, which often includes going to beauty parlors for professional beard-whitening and upkeep for same. And finally, there are the guys who will also do Summer Santa gigs, which adds in yet more beard/grooming upkeep plus Summer-Santa gear.

It's not a job for wimps!
posted by easily confused at 7:46 AM on December 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yeah, while you do get the occasional fantastically terrible Darkman Santa, it seems like a good chunk of these are just normal Santii with hands full of screamy kids - can't really blame the Santa for that, kids *are* pretty terrible.

Also, there is a great documentary about Santa Clausing called 'I Am Santa Claus', and is the story of Mick Foley (who loves the shit out of Christmas) following the yearly journey of a set of Jollymen on their road to the grand celebration, including the travails of booking mall gigs, Santa Conventions, kinky hookups, and more. It's pretty great!
posted by FatherDagon at 7:48 AM on December 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Distractify's mobile interface, with its annoying barrage of ads

Yeah, sorry, I just assume everyone is using something like AdBlock Plus or 1Blocker.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:48 AM on December 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

My father has aged into looking so much like Santa, that little kids run up to him all the time, all year long. He's sanguine about it and declares that it could be worse, people could think he's a Hemingway.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:29 PM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Sketchy Santa
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:38 AM on December 15, 2016

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