“Santa Baby,” one of few Christmas songs written by a woman, is a funny and odd little song. Odder is the fact that the most memorable version of the song that Joanna and I have ever heard was sung by a drag queen in a bar — despite the fact that neither of us drinks, or is part of the GLBT community. And even odder is the fact that it wasn’t until it came up in casual conversation months later that Joanna realized that our friend had taken us to a “gay bar,” or that the performer wasn’t a woman. After all, I’m usually the less-than-observant one in our relationship.
Actually, in one sense my wife and I are members of the GLBT community — taking pride in being “allies.” We’ve enjoyed many relationships with GLBT friends, co-workers and (in my case) students. We belong to one of the few “open and affirming” churches in Spokane, and march each year in the city’s Pride Parade.
We are glad to see the progress made in the area of gay rights, including the legalization of gay marriage in our own home state. We’ve found the gay weddings we’ve attended to be every bit as moving and fun as traditional weddings.
In fact, despite the fact that it is located in conservative eastern Washington and represented by one of the most conservative members of Congress, Spokane is very “gay-friendly.” Its GLBT film festival just celebrated its 15th year. And it is perhaps fitting that we saw a gender-bending performance in Spokane. After all, one of the city’s best-know musicians was jazz pianist Billy Tipton, a woman who lived as a man for more than 50 years — much to the apparent surprise of “his” widow, among others.
“Santa Baby” has been done by many artists, including Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, Madonna, the Pussycat Dolls and even Miss Piggy. But the first — and one of the best — was Eartha Kitt in 1953. Kitt, who died on Christmas Day five years ago, also played a memorable Cat Woman in the Batman TV series that I watched as a kid. I’ve chosen a video of her for this post.
Lyrics here, with video below.