By Christopher Harrity
Originally published on Advocate.com December 09 2013 8:00 AM ET
For some of us, the overly sincere tone of the holidays gets a bit much. That's when we turn to YouTube. For each of the 12 days of Christmas, let's serve up holiday camp and irony.
12. Judy Garland Christmas Special (1963)
Come back here if ever the holiday snark starts making you feel too bitchy. This is the gold standard. Judy, Liza, Lorna, and Joey all get in on the act. Jack Jones and Mel Tormé help with needed smarm. Plus, we've found the full hourlong version. This is pretty awesome — if you can take off your bitter goggles.
11. Home for Christmas, Dolly Parton (1990)
Nothing says the birth of Jesus like giant breasts and huge hair. Dolly is flawless here, but who knew 1990 was so '80s? What a wealth of embellished prairie dresses. And Dolly's hair is not the biggest on the show; take a look at the amazing blowbacks on her male band members.
10. RuPaul's Christmas Ball (1993)
A more intentional camp indeed, and the participants here are worth the show — Here TV diva Sherry Vine, Boy George, La Toya Jackson, Elton John, Taylor Dayne, Belinda Carlisle, Little Richard, En Vogue and ... hold on to your wig ... Nirvana.
9. Andy Williams Christmas With Donny Osmond, the Osmonds, and the Williams Brothers (Various dates)
A sweater orgy. Seriously. Like going to Uncle Charlie's North in Manhattan on a fall night in 1977. You've never seen so many crewnecks over button-downs. And the teeth! Dear God, the teeth. Make it stop!
8. Lady Gaga & Elton John — Artpop (The Muppets' Holiday Spectacular, 2013)
OK, is it just us? Or is Mother Monster gently poking his royal highness Elton by wearing 92 wigs at once? You be the judge — we're all worn out.
7. Christmas With Liberace: Christmas Carols, Friends and Family (1954)
Wait, what? How did this get in here? Liberace's not gay, is he? I mean, he said he wasn't gay. Crosses the line from camp to maudlin in the first 30 seconds.
6. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" — As Sung by Ethel Merman
You stop-animation freaks would storm the barricades we keep around the offices if we didn't include one of these Rankin and Bass-like things. You're just lucky the Merm is singing here.
5. The Lawrence Welk Christmas Show (1966)
Here's a party game: Take a drink, turn this on, see how many drinks you need to keep slamming just to endure it all. This is a Christmas show only for really hard-core camp followers. If you are not on John Waters's Christmas card list, you probably can't hang on long.
(A note for after you've finished: How far did you get? What's your blood-alcohol level? Lucky for you, we have the spiritual insulin for the above clip. Simply click on this link and the room will stop spinning. Also, please pull over if you are driving.)
4. Cher, Sonny, Chaz, Bernadette Peters, and Captain Kangaroo (waiting for return call from Chaz with date)
Bernadette Peters on a bad night. Captain Kangaroo is slaying her. Consider dolman sleeves for your next holiday hostess gown.
3. Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
Pee-wee Herman was at the height of his little-boy-trapped-in-a-man's-body powers — just look at the cast list: Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Grace Jones, k.d. lang, Dinah Shore, Little Richard, Cher, the Del Rubio Triplettes, Magic Johnson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Joan Rivers, Charo, Laurence Fishburne, and sexy John Paragon (as Jambi!).
2. The Dangerous Christmas of Little Red Riding Hood (1965)
This one took some deep research. We hope you appreciate the hours we had to spend chatting up that man at the end of the bar at Don't Tell Mama while he pawed us and talked about "the good old days of musical theater." Here we have discovered Liza Minnelli is a manic Red Riding Hood, and Cyril Ritchard (Captain Hook in Peter Pan) is the wolf/grandma. Ritchard makes Noël Coward look butch. And, here's the kicker: Eric Burdon and the Animals played the wolf's cohorts. Vic Damone played the woodsman/prince. Here's the whole soundtrack if you're that kind of gay.
1. The Mitzi Gaynor Christmas Show (1966)
Mitzi Gaynor performs gay songwriter Jerry Herman's "We Need a Little Christmas" from the musical Mame. Why is this number one? Mitzi is campy without being grotesque. She is overly animated without taking Lypsinka's food out of her mouth. We love this song. We would wear that outfit. And we are writing this list.