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Hunky Santa For Ladies and Gentlemen


Any gay man who's ever sat through a performance of Thunder From Down Under has learned two things. First: At least a few of the performers are gay. Second: It doesn't matter, because no matter how much baby oil these guys are slathered in, the show - along with The Chippendales and any other Vegas-style male strip revue - is designed for the ladies.

The dancers in these shows, along with the shirtless men who stand in the door in greet Christmas shoppers at Abercrombie & Fitch, couldn't exactly be classified as antigay. It's just these "spectacles" aren't designed with men in mind, and when the gays do show up for a photo or to ogle, the response isn't always welcome.

Which is why "Hunky Santa," now in its ninth year at Los Angeles' Beverly Center mall, is so refreshing. This year's Santa, 29-year-old fitness model James Ellis, isn't gay... but if you are and you want a photo, naughty, nice or just seeking an up close look at his abs, you can plop right down on that knee for a pic. In fact, he's totally into it.

"What we're looking for in [Hunky Santa] is someone who's a people person," Susan Vance, Marketing and Sponsorship Director for the mall, told The Advocate. "Someone who is charismatic... that's what's most important."

As if being known as the hot Santa for everyone to enjoy weren't enough, this year, Ellis has also become known as something of a local hero. Earlier this month, during one of the performances, an aerialist feel three stories on the middle of a show and fractured her pelvis landing on a video projection cube.

Ellis was the first one at her side and, along with mall security, made sure she was stable until emergency crews arrived.

Whether its Ellis the hero or the mere spectacle of it all that's drawing the crowds, they're packing into the Beverly Center for the show. At a preview event for this year's Hunky Santa show, men made up a fair chunk of the crowd. The show, which used to be a decidedly female affair, is now being touted as something for the "big kids" to enjoy. In fact, other than a reference to his backup dancers (the Candy Cane Girls), nowhere on the Hunky Santa website are women even mentioned.

By comparison, Thunder Front Down Under is touted as a show that's sure to make "the ladies scream," while the Chippendales are the "Ultimate Girls Night Out."

"Hunky Santa is there to take pictures with everybody... men, women, children. Doesn't matter."

Click here for more on the Hunky Santa show.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Ross von Metzke