December 21, 2009

Podcast

The Art of Manliness Podcast #12: Interview With Santa Claus

Welcome back to the Art of Manliness podcast. This week we bring you a special holiday edition of the Art of Manliness podcast with a very special guest: Santa Claus! Or at least a guy who works as Santa. Santa Dave (or Dave Davis) is a professional Santa Clause that lives in Ohio. He’s a member of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas and also does holiday story telling. You can find out more about Santa Dave’s work and see pics of the big man himself at his website Christmas Lore.

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Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to a holiday edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. We decided to invite a special guest on the podcast. Santa Claus is our guest today, well, at least the guy who works as a Santa Claus, his name is Santa Davis or Dave Davis. Santa Dave is a member of The Art of Manliness Community and he does work and appears as Santa Claus. He lives in Ohio and he is a member of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas, so none of that fake beard Santa stuff. Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave Davis: Well, thank you, ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas.

Brett McKay: Fantastic, well, Santa Dave, thank you for taking the time out of your, I’m sure you have busy schedule to come talk to us, we really appreciate it. So, are you ready to get started with the questions?

Dave Davis: I am ready.

Brett McKay: Excellent. Well, Santa Dave, how and why did you become a Santa Claus?

Dave Davis: Well, it’s kind of interesting. I have actually been doing Santa works since I was in high school on different things with the fake beard, excuse me we don’t use the term fake beard anymore, we use designer beard as because it’s a better term, but I have been doing that in school for some different things and some different areas over the years as in church and then a few years ago, I want to say about 2004 I actually had a couple of week vacation for the first time in a long time and I just let my beard grow and didn’t shave and it started coming a grayish and I feel pretty good and I said just wonder what will happen, so I sort of let it grow for a while. And at the same time, I have actually very personal reason why I do the Santa. My younger sister named Judy who was going through about with breast cancer and when I went to pick her up right before Christmas at Zion Hospital outside of Chicago, she made a comment about how I was good looking Santa and they actually put a little Santa head on me and the nurse who came in took my picture with my sister and et cetera. I took my sister home, she actually passed away two days after Christmas. And so, I just decided to keep them and keep ongoing with being Santa kind of a little bit of tribute to her and this has been a blest, it’s just been a lot of fun so I wonder why I didn’t do it earlier. So, that’s how and why I became Santa.

Brett McKay: Well, so you have been doing this since 2004, so it’s almost like five years.

Dave Davis: Yeah, with the real beard.

Brett McKay: With the real beard.

Dave Davis: Yes.

Brett McKay: Okay. So, your work’s kind of unique Santa did that you don’t usually do the typical department store Santa work, can you tell our readers a little bit about what sort of Santa work you do?

Dave Davis: Oh, absolutely. I do mainly charities. I also do some private parties and that sounds selfish but the reason why I do some private parties is Santa isn’t free. I go through a drying bill about 250 dollars in the month of December. Because of especially with the H1N1 and that’s because I washed the suit after every day, but I do some private parties but mainly I guess at charity, I have done work for boys clubs and girls clubs for cancer wards in the local hospitals, for hospice, I just did one fairly recently that was very moving that was for the Autism Society of Dayton and there were 34 autistic children that I met with that night. There were one or two that did have a little problem with it, but the majority like 30 of them were able to spend some time with Santa and that was very fulfilling and rewarding and I have also done a lot of assisted living facilities and other things like that over the course of the years so, during the Christmas season you will mainly see me at social events and public events for charities and different things I do. I will deliver for Mobile Meals, I have also get some Mobile Meal deliveries as Santa and that was a trip, I think one lady almost had a heart attack when she opened the door and there was Santa with a bag of food for her. So, all of the types of Santa work I do.

Brett McKay: Well, fantastic.

Dave Davis: And I’m also a storyteller. I actually have a relationship with our local coffee shop here that’s kind of mainly on Sunday evenings I’ll do a couple hours of very low pressure, I mean we don’t have any photographers or anything that they can come in at their pace and kind of get familiar with Santa and I tell a story for a while and very fun festive. There’s probably been a dozen kids over the course of last couple of years that when they walked in the door were terrified and by the end of the night they were sitting on my lap. Because, like I said, those worries I don’t like doing in the malls or at a meat market and a racy kid being grabbed and thrown on Santa’s lap and say you love Santa and there’s this big beardy guy going ho, ho, ho, and kids start crying and that’s not really good for anybody.

Brett McKay: So, Santa Dave, what’s the best part of the job of being Santa Claus?

Dave Davis: What can I say I’m Santa, I mean Santa is big. He just being Santa has somehow speaks for itself. I don’t know if there’s really a way to describe it, but I do get a chance to share Christmas with a lot of people and be a part of their Christmas and some families that I have been a part of their Christmas for several years now and built nice relationship and it’s just great. And also being a Christian et cetera it’s good to be able to spread the birth of Jesus and et cetera at that timeframe.

Brett McKay: Well, fantastic and are there any downside with the job?

Dave Davis: Well, I guess if I wanted to nitpick there would probably be a few and sometimes there’s some weird hours and sometimes I overbooked myself a little bit. But now there’s little I know, no bad parts. I’ve not had any problems with any of my, I will say clients, for lack of a better term yet, and again it’s being Santa.

Brett McKay: Yeah, fantastic. So, I’m sure right now…

Dave Davis: It’s great. Now, I do say and it’s not a bad part, but it’s kind of interesting, teenage kids love to tell me I’m Santa.

Brett McKay: Well, I’m sure right now that your schedule is just booked, herein from now until Christmas, what do you do the rest of the year?

Dave Davis: Actually, I’m a project manager with AT&T and I have been in project management for many years. There is an organization called the Project Management Institute, I don’t know if you are familiar with them or not, but it’s a global certification standard for project managers and I have been involved in their executive offices and do a lot of public speaking, professional development day and things like that in the project management arena. Also, I do curriculum work for the University of British Columbia on their program project management curriculums. And then like I said, I’m also a project manager for AT&T of large scale international customers where we actually tie our applications together and just to give you an idea, there’s American Express has a circuit go down and they are not able to get transaction from our city to another city that is real money for them, so we actually build interfaces where we are able to notify them that something’s down and what we are doing to fix it and then it comes back up and et cetera, et cetera.

Brett McKay: Cool, and does this job give you kind of flexibility this time of year to do your Santa work?

Dave Davis: Absolutely, yeah, it’s a global job so we’ve a lot of morning at 2:00 AM, I’m in conference call with folks in Cyberjaya, India and those places, but like I said it does give me some flexibility and sometimes I’m able to slip out at 3 o’clock and do a nursing home or something like that.

Brett McKay: Very cool. Santa Dave, if a man is interested in becoming a Santa Claus, because it is I mean it’s a really manly job, what advice would you give them?

Dave Davis: First of all, they do have to have the passion. If they think I can make a few bugs around December by being a Santa Claus, if they don’t have the passion, it wouldn’t work. So first of all, they have to have the passion for the job. The other thing would be start out small maybe be Santa at a local Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts or something like that. You can get a fairly reasonably priced designer suit from a Walmart or something like that with the fake beard and just be the little ones. You may or may not want to charge a lot of my – I don’t do for charge, I do charge sometimes as I said I have pretty significant dry cleaning and another costs for doing business, but I would start small with that. There is a couple of different websites out there, there is a Fraternal Order of Santas of which we welcome people with or without bearded Santa and the opportunity to part and there is a couple other Claus nets and et cetera that are out there to get some ideas and hints. I’d say if you’re willing to start out with the smaller things. And there is a lot of opportunities to do some private parties and et cetera especially around Christmas Eve and that be involved in a choir things like that just sort let people know, start on the grassroots area and if you like it, then you want to go with the beard then do the beard. It can take a good six to nine months to grow the beard so it’s an acceptable level. Start in March, I have started mine actually in June the first year I was a Santa, but I think I had a little overdose of testosterone in my body. But now definitely start local and some little things, like I said the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, nursing homes are always looking for people to come and play Santa. And most need about was the assisted living facilities in there, these old folks know some of the old carol and some of the older things that perhaps aren’t well known today. Children today I would say are a little bit more up to speed with songs like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells. Well, if you try to pull something like Up on the Housetop or a Winter Wonder Land and things like that, they look at you kinda strange while the older people didn’t know those songs.

Brett McKay: Do you need the Holly Jolly Belly that shakes when you laugh like a bowl full of jelly or is that not necessary?

Dave Davis: It’s really not necessary, well there are some places out there that are into the skinny Santa or the fit Santa. And actually I have been fortunate that Santa has fairly seen I have actually lost in the neighborhood of 50 pounds.

Brett McKay: Wow.

Dave Davis: And hadn’t hurt my work at all.

Brett McKay: If I’m correct, wasn’t like the Victorian Santa skinny and like the, I don’t know, somehow the American Santa Claus kind of became the holly jolly that we all know.

Dave Davis: Right, well actually the line in the Night Before Christmas was a right jolly old elf and that’s kind of where it came from, but yes the Victorian Father Christmas and Santa Claus and then in the Dutch area they were all big scraggly woodsmen and they were almost rigid-like in their appearance.

Brett McKay: I noticed on your website that you actually make appearance as different types of Santa Claus.

Dave Davis: Yes, I do.

Brett McKay: What are some of these Santa Clauses you appear as?

Dave Davis: Well, I do one that I call the Middle Earth Father Christmas. J. R. R. Tolkien, who everybody knows as the writer of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and et cetera, actually published a series of letters that he wrote to his children as Father Christmas till they are 20s and up into the world. I was able to pick up a Santa suit that had half moon and stars on it kind of reproduce, so one of my personas is the Father Christmas of Middle Earth where I talk about the J. R. R. Tolkien stuff and that kind of influence the same, because he had polar bears looking at the north pole and actually had known that were evil opponents to him and some other things. I also do more of a Victorian Father Christmas. I’m fortunate that I have a wife who loves the show and unfortunate that I have a wife who likes the play dress up her husband, but the nice thing about that my wife has made me a couple of costumes or uniform that every time I want to use as both Santa Claus and the Father Christmas and she did a green Victorian Father Christmas, which has been very well received. I have done several banquets and different things like that. I did a local upper house fundraiser for the Toys for Tots with the Victoria Father Christmas. I told the story about the little boy who walked under scrooge’s window on Christmas morning and letting got the Turkey in and some of those things. I have a lot of fun with that persona also. And then the traditional American Santa and there’s a couple of different flavors of him. Realistically there is storyteller everyone approach and if I’m just going to be doing, giving or things like that, I will have had a little bit different approach and then there is one that kind of lead carols and some of that with a little bit more of a loud-singer type, but it’s fun and the thing is that Santa and there’s usually a festive mood to start with, I just tried to build upon that festive mood that’s already there.

Brett McKay: Well, fantastic. Well, speaking of festive mood, any last minute tips on getting into the holiday spirit from the big man himself?

Dave Davis: Yeah, first of all, I think the holiday spirit gets into you. I think what you have to do just relax and just go with it and don’t stress over anything here. There is no such thing as a perfect gift, so don’t worry about trying to get the perfect gift. If the person is not appreciative of what you give ‘em, brush off your shoes and go on. Be comfortable with yourself and I think the spirit will find you and enjoy it, get out and do things, go to the local lightshows or drive around the neighborhood with the decorations or other things like that, go to the video store if you don’t have it, rent the Charlie Brown Christmas, pop some popcorn, heat up some coco and put in the DVR and sit and watch that, those little things are the memory though. As I told people, Christmas spirit will find you whether you want it or not and it’s just if you want to let it in, is really the issue and if you just relax and just kind of enjoy and don’t read too much into it, don’t try to make it more than it is, I think you will have a great time.

Brett McKay: Well, fantastic. Well, Santa Dave, thank you again for your time and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

Dave Davis: I do too and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and I will see you Christmas Eve, but you probably would not see me and thanks for all the wonderful manly tips you have given on the website to be able to do gifting and all that for the manly man out there.

Brett McKay: You are very welcome. Thank you, Santa Dave.

Dave Davis: Okay. Well, ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas and we will see you Christmas Eve.

Brett McKay: Our guest today was Dave Davis also known as Santa Dave and Santa Dave is a professional Santa Claus and you can find about more about his work at christmas-lore.com.

Well, that wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com. And from all of us at The Art of Manliness we wish you a very safe and a very Merry Christmas.


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