5 Questions with Santa Claus

The famous gift-giver spills the beans on Coca-Cola, Paul McCarthy’s butt plug and his tempestuous relationship with the Son of God.

Which artists are on your naughty and nice lists this year?

I’m a progressive guy so I’m not really comfortable with this kind of binary thinking. Reality isn’t an either/or proposition. Join the twenty-first century, kids!

Your image has been used by everyone from Coca-Cola to Paul McCarthy—which visual depiction of yourself are you the most fond of?

I love what Paul did, though I was fearfully drunk when I posed for him. I can confirm it’s a butt plug I’m holding, by the way. As for Coca-Cola: I’m still waiting on the cheque.

How is your relationship with Jesus these days, and do you resent the amount of attention he’s received from artists over the years?

If you think about it, Jesus and I are very distinct, iconographically speaking: in all those Christmas scenes he’s a taker—though you can hardly blame him, he’s a newborn; why shouldn’t he accept a few gifts from the Three Wise Men?—whereas I’m a giver. My sack it overfloweth, as Mrs Claus is always joking. (Truth to tell, she’s not a naturally funny woman.)

Your workshop setup draws obvious parallels with the studios of Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. Do you take inspiration from these artists, and do you claim singular authorship of all your studio’s creations?

Hohoho, if I weren’t such a jolly fat man I might get annoyed by some of the muddle-headed assumptions implicit in this question. You’re right that there are “obvious parallels”—but if you’d given it even a second’s thought you’d know who came first: Santa! I was the first workshop artist: before “Andy”, before Rubens even. These guys stole the idea from me—and they’ve never paid me a cent for it! So I’m surprised that you could think I took inspiration from them. Do your research!

The work that comes out of my studio is collaborative—the contribution of my elves is invaluable—but, let’s face it, it’s my signature that keeps the market prices high. As I’m always telling my beloved assistants: You’re nothing without me, you little weirdos. Get back to work!

Who on your gift list has the dirtiest chimney?

I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Illustration by Rosalind Duguid
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