Unholy Night

Ebenezer Scrooge might be the quintessential poster boy for a bad holiday attitude, but he didn't have to fist-fight a soccer mom the day after Thanksgiving for the last limited-edition Bratz doll at Wal-Mart. And Scrooge didn't have to buy glow-in-the-dark mistletoe nipple clamps for a gag gift party. In short, Ebenezer was a wimp who had no real reason to "bah! humbug" about anything.

For some real Scrooges, check out the 19th annual Bad X-Mas Pageant at the Paper Heart, where the commercialization of Christmas gets put through the wringer by more than 120 performers, including local artists Leslie Barton, The Klute, Peter Petrisko, and Trish (Justrish), who's expected to continue her tradition of dressing as the Virgin Mary every year.

"This is not your mother's X-Mas pageant. It's really over the top," says artist and event organizer Jeff Falk, who started the pageant with his wife (and fellow artist) Annie Lopez. "Every year, it's kinda like doing mutated vaudeville. There's a little bit of bitterness and despair in there."

One of the highlights of past pageants has been Steve Gompf's film Rudolph the Tourette Syndrome Reindeer, which will be showing again this year. The film mocks the old Claymation holiday specials. "We find out Rudolph's problem is not his blinking nose, but his blinking language," Falk says.

There will also be "holiday products testing," where attendees will sample regular products and their "holiday editions" to see if there's really anything special about the holiday swag. And that can get pretty hairy. "One year, the audience started throwing the products back," Falk says. "A red Oreo flew by my head at 80 mph."

Despite all the holiday mockery, the true spirit of Christmas is behind the event, as all proceeds benefit Andre House, an organization that helps clothe and feed the homeless.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea