Forget the fat guy in the red suit. In LA, Santa is buff.
There are Hispanic Santas, black Santas, female Santas and Bad Santas.
But only in Los Angeles is there a Hunky Santa. The name is trademarked by the Beverly Center, which introduced the concept six years ago. The center's public relations representative explained that Hunky Santa appeals to a new generation: singles without children. "Is Hunky Santa a good draw? Yes, people come every year asking for Hunky Santa."
In a town that sells lighted fake Christmas palm trees to deck the halls, tradition is for those square folks back East.
"It's a unique aspect with L.A.," said the muscular St. Nick, who actually goes by "St. Rick," Santa's son. He said his real name is Greg and that he won the title after an online vote at the shopping center's Web site, www.beverlycenter.com.
He says his fans are "mainly guys, around this town. But a lot of girls come, too. We play it up. Make a good photo shoot. A lot of them get [the pictures] on CDs and copy them to their buddies. Especially if you're sending a Christmas card back home East. It's the ultimate L.A. Christmas. It goes hand and hand with the society out here."
Ah. Ostensible adults continue to appropriate holidays meant for children. First it was Halloween: Thanks to urban legends, you hardly ever see trick or treaters anymore. What you do see are twenty-somethings using the holiday as an occasion to dress like skanks and down jello shots--just like every other day of the week. It won't be long before pictures like this become antiques.