or: Why Eartha Kitt is sexier than Madonna & Betty Boop combined! ;)

Originally posted December 2004

Credits: For Bob, who correctly insisted the singer makes a huge difference! -& George, who came up with the subtitle;

— for Eartha Kitt, who first showed me sensuality and sexiness could coincide without degenerating into tawdriness;

— and for holidays and celebrating closeness — may we have many more. ;)

Some years ago I heard a Christmas song I thought was rather appalling. The singer was petulant and whiny, childishly demanding an enormous amount of gifts. She seemed to pretty much blatantly assume she'd get what she wanted, because she was willing to give Santa sex. Needless to say, I was revolted at the entire song — it seemed a truly twisted bastardization of the entire spirit of the season.

I later found out that singer was Madonna, for a 1987 album titled A Very Special Christmas. The song itself, I discovered, was titled "Santa Baby," written by J. Javits and P. Springer. I was also informed the original singer was Eartha Kitt, and that she'd done a marvelous job with the song.

I was dubious such a greedy, manipulative song could be salvaged by even the best singer, but my friend insisted I should keep an ear out for the original rendition, and I'd see what the song was really supposed to be like.


Oooh, my, yeees… what a difference a singer can make! You can find the Eartha Kitt version on her recent 2003 album, Platinum & Gold Collection, and check it out for yourself. (later edit: Here's just the MP3 from another album: Santa Baby — enjoy!)

Don't get me wrong, of course — Madonna does have a well-trained voice, and she has several songs I enjoy listening to. However, I don't think she's quite grasped the difference between alluringly sultry and childishly whiny, in order to get one's way. Swapping sex for things appears to be eminently practical to her, and you can easily imagine her behaving like a pouty, pseudo-cutesy little girl to get more stuff. It either appears she's not interested at all, or her sexuality is Right In Your Face — she doesn't seem to have any less jarring, in-between form of behavior.

To be fair to Madonna, I should note she hits two of my hot buttons in her rendition. First, she whines, and I absolutely loathe whining — it makes me want to smack the whiner and yell, "SHUT UP!"

Second, I am not a Betty Boop fan. I've never been able to fathom her appeal, and I find her characteristic childish, "Boop oop a doop! *squeak*" extremely irritating. For Madonna to include a rendition of Betty Boop's call in the song made me want to clutch my head in agony, and snarl at her to grow up!

Eartha Kitt, on the other hand, delivered the song "Santa Baby" in a low, rich, purr which never lost that background hint of humor. Her rendition was indeed sensuous, but I never felt she descended to Madonna's tawdry implied promise of cheap sex. You got the feeling Eartha understood quite well she wasn't going to get everything she was asking for — a yacht, a convertible, a platinum mine, and more? -but she'd have a great time in the asking!

I think that's why I enjoyed Eartha's rendition so much, and disliked Madonna's — Eartha seemed to have clearly grasped both the humor of the song, and what Christmas is really all about. It's not demanding expensive toys in exchange for sex (or some other cheaply held bauble), which was what I got from Madonna. I don't care to see the entire holiday degenerated into nothing more than a selfish orgy of greed.

Corny though it sounds, to me the holiday season is about togetherness. It's the warmth and closeness of love and friendship holding on through the darkest part of the year, and the gift-giving which symbolizes that feeling. It's the delight of musing over and considering, carefully selecting, then wrapping and giving wonderful gifts to those you care about — and then getting to see or hear of the other person simply lighting up with pleasure at what you've offered them. That feels so enormously good!

Conversely, there's a joy in discreetly — maybe even gently and teasingly — letting those dear to you know what you'd truly like, so they too get a chance to watch you appreciatively light up as well at their gift giving. Gift-giving and -receiving has always been a symbol of generosity and caring towards those you love, and showing friendship in such a fashion at year's end is a wonderful tradition, regardless of what religious rituals you choose to participate in.

In the yearly ceremonies of friendship gift-giving, you don't demand, nor do you assume you'll get everything you want. You understand the holiday is a participative joy, a fun and humorous back-and-forth of pleasure and sharing happiness between people who care deeply about each other.

May you all have a very, very merry and joyous holiday season. May your loved ones all take joy in being close to you. And if you've been an angel all year, may Santa Baby hurry down the chimney to trim your tree on Christmas night. ;)

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