2016 Season Rundown from “Birth, Movies, Death”

Thank you, Birth, Movies, Death for this excellent seasonal summary!

Getting rowdy with the anti-Santa


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to experience the Krampus phenomenon in Los Angeles that included a Krampus Run Thursday night and a Krampus Play Sunday evening. I’ve only become acquainted with Krampus in the last few years, and during that time I felt an obsession beginning to grow within me. I decided that I would educate myself and attend some of the events put on by Al Ridenour of Krampus Los Angeles as I figured it would help get me into the holiday spirit; and boy did it ever. 

The Krampus Run is unlike anything I have ever seen before. The run itself is located on a closed off street in Downtown LA and features more than two dozen individuals from Krampus Troupe and Beast Bay Krampus dressed up as different interpretations of Krampus. In a world where everything costs money, this event was free of charge and offered guests a sight of something new and entertaining. Leading the procession was St. Nicholas himself who was chauffeured about in a Krampus-driven steam-car. As St. Nick made his way out into the open, he ushered us all closer, and as we advanced toward him, he proclaimed it time for the Krampus Run!  At this point, a gate opened and Krampuses of all shapes and sizes spewed forth with sticks and whips to smack and hit unsuspecting onlookers. I was one of those onlookers and let me tell you, I was not expecting to get whipped like I did. The hordes of Krampuses followed St. Nicholas up and down the closed off street while spectators looked on and cheered. You could hear screams, growls, laughter, and terror throughout the packed street and there was even a slight smell of Christmas in the air. It was amazing to see how large the crowd was that came out to support this age-old Austrian tradition. And it wasn’t just adults; there were children, of all ages, screaming and laughing as the Krampuses rushed by them. 

What I loved so much about this event was how happy everyone around me was.  Though the folktales of Krampus evoke a fear in the hearts of those that have been naughty, it was clear that the people around me were having the time of their life. As St. Nick and his demonic friends headed back to the gate, those surrounding him were given chocolate pieces of coal for having been such naughty children. I found myself yelling out to St. Nicholas about my transgressions in hopes to snag a chocolate coal for myself and you bet your Krampus whipping ass I got one. I was impressed by the apparent time and effort it takes to put together these costumes. It was clear that those who participated in this tradition were passionate about what they did. 

As the run came to a close, there was a free after party at the 1914-era Regent Theater.  I unfortunately was not able to attend this portion of the event but there was live music from the Nordic lesbian Viking Metal group Sapphic Musk and entertainment by Rosemary’s Billygoat, complete with a fire-breathing stage show that included monster props, costumes, an electric chair and more!  Though I had to head back home, friends later explained that it was unlike anything they had ever seen before. As I walked back to my car and away from all the festivities, I reflected back on the Krampus Run with a smile on my face and a new found respect for those who take this tradition to heart.

The next event that I attended came a few days later and was to be held at the Church of Angels in Pasadena, CA. All I knew was I was going to be seeing a Krampus Play, though I wasn’t even sure what that meant. What I ended up experiencing was so much more than that. Upon arrival to the Church of Angels, I was once again greeted by St. Nicholas on his Krampus-driven steam-car, who ushered us all inside the church. As I took a seat on one of the pews, I patiently awaited for whatever was to unfold and looked around at the sold out crowd. Scattered throughout the pews I could see guests dressed in headpieces with horns that resembled those of Krampus and I could tell there was an air of excitement all around. The Church itself was absolutely breathtaking with a nod to the Gothic Revival and was the perfect backdrop for the showpiece we were about to experience. 

First up was a snippet from a documentary called Tuifl (“Devil”) by Hannah Jakubowska which gave viewers a glimpse into the history of Krampus. I absolutely adored this preview, and I now have a much better understanding of what Krampus is, how he came about, and what his place is in Christmas folklore. The documentary was shot in Austria and shows the traditions that are held dear to those who live there as well as interviews that were conducted with troupe members, mask-carvers, suit makers and proprietors of the Kartner Krampus Shop, one of the few stores that specializes in costumes, masks and assorted gear (such as bells, chains, and whips) for Krampus and Perchten (a midwinter creature) events. 

After Michael & Monika’s performance we got to the main event, The Nicholas Plays. For those not familiar with the Nicholas Plays or “Nikolausspiel”, they are “a folk theater genre dating back to the 18th century and resemble England’s mummer’s plays. The Nicholas Play is a primary origin of the Krampus tradition” (Krampus Los Angeles).  The play was translated from German for this show by producer and director Al Ridenour, who also is the creator of Krampus Los Angeles. The show was divided up into three acts: Death and the Youth, St. Nicholas and the Devils, and A Miracle of St. Nicholas. I absolutely LOVED the performances. For someone like me, who is a huge fan of horror, the Nicholas Plays had everything one could ever imagine such as Lucifer Krampus, butchered children, a bad-ass representation of Death, St. Nicholas kicking ass and taking names, murder, deceit and forgiveness. Though a lot of the subject matter was incredibly dark, it was put together with an air of humor and light heartedness which resulted in quite a juxtaposition of feelings towards what was happening. Overall, this play was truly the icing and cherry atop a delicious cake. It brought everything full circle while also educating those who were not familiar with the stories and mythology behind this Christmas demon.  

Overall, having attended both the Krampus Run and the Krampus Play, I would have to say my love and obsession has only grown for this tradition. I loved seeing the excitement and playfulness that came from those who have been fans for years and years and also the awe and amazement from those who were just learning about Krampus for the first time. Al Ridenour has created something incredibly special with his Krampus Los Angeles events and has made the tradition come alive for so many people and I’m grateful to have been able to experience all of this for my first time and I look forward to celebrating the Krampus tradition for years to come. 

Friday: The 4th Annual Krampus Ball


St. Nick and Krampus with Hammerstein Band

Friday, December 2, 2016

Doors 7:30pm. Show 8-12pm
Highland Park Ebell Club
131 S. Ave 57 (near Figueroa)
Advance sale tickets (highly recommended): $25.
Door sale (if available, not guaranteed): $35.
21 & over.

Four our fourth year, we return to the charmingly old-world ballroom in Highland Park where Krampus feels most at home. Our emcee for the evening will be that friend of good children everywhere (and merciless judge of the naughty), our very own St. Nicholas. There will be plenty of treats and blessings from the good saint, and plenty of Austrian STIEGL BEER from our bartenders.

Returning in their embroidered lederhosen and dirndls G.T.E.V. D’OBERLANDLER once again brings a sampling of the folk music and dance of Alpine Bavaria where the Krampus makes his home. Expect more, furious bench-thumping dances, the spirited sole-slapping fury of the Schuhplattler, Christmas melodies picked out on tuned Alpine cowbells, and the melodic bellowing of those 10-foot twin Alphorns.

Fronted by Bavarian-born Andreas Becket, HAMMERSTEIN MUSIK BAVARIA plays everything from boot-stomping polkas to tears-in-your-beer ballads of die Liebe gone wrong. They’ll even give you some on-the-fly dance lessons. The 4-piece ensemble boasts award winning classical musicians, seasoned studio pros and an academically trained ethnomusicologist, but they still haven’t forgotten how to party like a drunken goatherd at his first Oktoberfest. They’ve even appeared in a recently much aired, high-camp Wienerschnitzel commercial touting their fast food as “sorta German.” And, yes, there will be yodeling.

Representing the heathen side of the season, the band IRONWISE explores darker, sometimes witchy themes. Singer Laura Shodire celebrates “those of iron-strong wisdom and will,” in lyrics delivered over an eclectic brew of folky rock doused in gothic ether. Tonight they even debut a song about the Krampus.

Vocalist CHRISTINA LINHARDT will sing Schubert’s Der Erlkönig, (“Elf” or “Alder” King) from Goethe’s poem based upon old German legends. This supernatural tale of a sinister and mysterious being intent on seducing a child away from the world of mortals will be visualized by the puppet-masters of RASPUTIN’S MARIONETTES.  Assistance will be provided by our own St. Nicholas, RICK GALIHER.

At any point during the festivities, visitors may notice a gathering din of clanking cowbells telling them they are only moments from that moment the ballroom doors burst open and a massed attack by the two dozen or so devils and mountain spirits of KRAMPUS LA sweeps them into a maelstrom of horns and flicking switches. Pray that St. Nicholas can gain control of his malevolent slaves and save the evening!  Percussion provided by TALEA.

Please purchase tickets early. DO NOT COUNT ON WALK-UP DOOR SALES. Every year this event sells out quite a bit before the date. Caveat emptor! Please also remember, this is an early show, over by midnight. And it’s earlier in the week than other years – FRIDAY NOT SATURDAY. In any case, you’ll want to early to allow yourself some extra moments to savor the surroundings, exchange pleasantries with other guests turned out in their yuletide best, snack on Pfeffernüsse. and snap some pictures of the still-fresh costumes. Krampus-inspired merchandise will be available from a few select vendors including AVE ROSEMISS HAVISHAM’S CURIOSITIESCHURCHYARDGINGERBREAD CASKET, MISS FORMALDEHYDE, and XTABY JEWELRY.  Free Guest Photo Booth by ZACHERY GARNER PHOTOGRAPHY.



SOLD OUT: Krampus Talk with Costume Catwalk




SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26th 2016, 6:00pm.
Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, 5750 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 100, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Advance Tickets Only:Available here.

Thanks to a certain highly promoted 2015 horror-comedy by Universal, many Americans now know something about the Krampus. Or think they do. However mass-culture horror tropes have muddied those waters, there is a growing domestic subculture of grassroots enthusiasts eager to understand and share a more authentically European take on the Krampus tradition. Over the last decade, dozens of Krampusläufe have sprung up in various American cities, including exceptionally vigorous activity in Los Angeles, where members of Austrian troupes have marched alongside their American protégés in devilish, switch-swinging camaraderie.

The creative force behind much of this enthusiasm for a once obscure Alpine tradition is Krampus Los Angeles director and author of The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas, Al Ridenour. Returning for his third annual presentation, Ridenour will explore the topic with new slides, rare video clips, and surprises dreamed up with his costumed cohorts from Krampus Los Angeles.

Central to the superstitions, fears, and legends associated with “the old, dark Christmas” season, or die Rauhnächte, are the fearsome characters that haunted the Germanic landscape. To assist you in visualizing these particular spooks, Ridenour has choreographed costumed walk-ons by Krampus Los Angeles members. The demonic Habergeiß, the Schnabelpercht, and “bloody Thomas,” are but a few of the more than a dozen apparitions expected. Naturally, the more familiar Krampus and saintly Nicholas will also be on hand to ensure that both naughty and nice are not only educated but appropriately rewarded.
$1 validated parking all day on weekends in the Wilshire Courtyard West underground garage-P1.

Info (323) 525-3388
Email for queries.

Krampus Book — Weekend Events



Krampus signs photos at Dark Delicacies.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Krampus visits at Dark Delicacies, North Hollywood. Al Ridenour signs copies of The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas.  6-9pm.

Al Ridenour will be signing The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas, a compendium of Krampus lore, history, and contemporary practice.  Krampus himself will be in attendance for photo ops and frights courtesy of Seven Hells.


Saturday, Nov. 19th, 7-10pm
4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles


Last appearing at the Soap Plant Wacko at the 2012 publication party for Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society, a national group of guerilla artists and pranksters in which he played a leading role, author Al Ridenour returns tonight as Krampus researcher par excellence with his new book The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas.

In this new incarnation, Ridenour has obsessively translated his way through countless 19th-century compendiums of folk tales and superstitions, medieval witchcraft documents, and rhymed folk plays, networked with contemporary Krampus groups and mask-carvers, corresponded with Austrian anthropologists and museums, and traveled to the Alps to be properly smacked by whips and tossed into snowbanks by rampaging devils. He’s even sweated inside his own handcrafted suit as part of LA’s annual Krampus festival, which he helped found in 2013 and now directs. With the publication of The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas, Ridenour offers a summation of these explorations in one entertainingly written lavishly illustrated volume examining not only the Krampus but related folklore of Alpine witches, ghosts, spectral armies, diabolical hunstmen, and murderous saints.

Ridenour’s lively, often comic presentation includes slides, video clips, costumes, an audience-participation Krampus Kwiz with prizes (and punishments) and a demonstration of Bleigiessen, and ancient European form of fortune-telling using molten lead and associated with the “old, dark Christmas” of his book.

A special musical set will be provided by TALEA, offering a unique mix of ambient/electronic soundscapes, tribal percussion, ambient and abrasive guitar, along with spoken word and operatic vocals.