Leave it to the Germans to combine wholesome holiday fun with a hairy, spank-happy demon.
According to Bavarian Alpine lore, Krampus is a sinister counterpart to the jovial, gift-bearing St. Nick — a satyrlike monster who punishes naughty children on Christmas by administering corporal punishment with birch switches. Krampus is also the apt moniker for the Xmas iteration of Lumberjacked, the scruff-centric monthly party returning to Silver Lake's premier leather fetish club, Eagle L.A., on Dec. 4.
"I decided to throw the anti-Christmas party that no one else had dared," explains Joe Peterson, a promoter for Lumberjacked. "I set out and built my own Krampus mask and costume and introduced him to gay nightlife in L.A. about five years ago. Krampus was a bit unnerving for most folks at first. It took a lot of explaining about who Krampus is, and once people got on board with the naughty aspect of the party, well, it's been something I look forward to every year now."
Eagle provides a welcoming abode to this shaggy seasonal sadist. The venue is accustomed to costumed kinksters, housing the likes of Hard Heroes, an annual queer comic book cosplay carnival, and Bone, the official afterparty for the yearly Los Angeles "Pup Play" pageant. Next to these quasi-crime fighters and canines, this whip-wielding Wookie fits in just fine.
"The Eagle has always been a place for those that have gravitated more toward the gay, leather, muscle, bear, fetish, S&M and countless other subgroups I’ve failed to mention," Peterson says. "I have found over the years that these folks here tend to be more open-minded, accepting and supporting of new, or very, very old ideas and concepts, such as Krampus."
The primary demographic of the Eagle skews toward the Tom of Finland ideal: hypermasculinity, tattoos and an abundance of body hair. This queer countercultural crowd stands in stark contrast to the more classical Adonises Peterson encountered while working security at Micky's in West Hollywood. It was there that Mickey's longtime manager, Mary Anne McClintock, urged Peterson to take the plunge into the realm of nightlife promotion.
"I didn't go out looking to do this work!" Peterson admits. "I was asked by the original promoter if I would take over the event Lumberjacked back when it was in its infancy and being held upstairs at Micky's nightclub on Sunday afternoons." McClintock advised him to jump at the chance, so he did. "She was one of the toughest, most straightforward women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I will never forget her. I learned a lot from her and I've learned a lot over the years on my own."
While Lumberjacked parties are notorious for their unbridled debauchery, Krampus kindles a flicker of sentimentality in Peterson.
"I know that Krampus is just my partner, Jesse Lepre, in a costume I made, but Jesse knows exactly how to bring Krampus to life and make him a huge part of the holiday season for me. Krampus night, well, it's become a new tradition I get to celebrate with my partner every year, and for that reason alone I am thankful for Krampus!"
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Despite Krampus' "unnerving" appearance, Peterson says his presence brings a special energy to the proceedings. "Once you get what he's about, well, everyone lightens up. People become less stiff and reserved, they let loose and enjoy the event for its own sake. I think Krampus is a psychological placebo of sorts. Our Lumberjacked event has always been about inclusiveness. We want everyone to have a good time, and when it's Krampus season, well, that goal is amplified tenfold for us."
For all those neophytes looking to get initiated into this macabre Christmas tradition, don't expect Peterson to give too much away.
"What happens on Krampus Night, stays at Krampus Night. If you really want to know more, well, you're just going to have to come out and see and participate for yourself!"
Lumberjacked presents Return of the Krampus at Eagle L.A. on Sunday, Dec. 4. More info.