Real-Life Santa Clauses
Life Behind the Beard
Today’s article takes a little look at a part of Christmas that people don’t often get to see: life behind the white beard that professional Santa Clauses wear every Christmas season — those seasonal Santas who star in parades and have kids sit on their laps in malls. I had the great honor of interviewing Santa Charles, a man with a heart of gold who serves families and children, and, occasionally, even uses his seasonal job as Santa to read the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth to children.
But before we get to the interview, we’ll start with a review of the documentary I Am Santa Claus, which asks the question: who are these people that welcome your child into their laps as Santa? Here’s a review from my editor, Kevin Ott, who had the chance to view the documentary:
I Am Santa Claus, directed by Tommy Avallone and starring, among others, the famous WWE wrestler and comedian Mick Foley, looks at four men who take up the part-time job of Santa Clause every year during the Christmas season. What we find are four portraits of humanity in all its variety and phases. What is true in all of them is the nuanced complexity of a human soul who finds joy in being Santa and making others happy. The film also highlights the fascinating power that the image of Santa has in society and how a man dressed as Santa suddenly finds favor among strangers when only the day before his tattooed, gritty non-Santa persona kept people at bay. In that sense the film is as much a commentary on society as it is of these four men. One thing is clear: the wrestler Mick Foley might have the most Christmas spirit of any person on this planet right now. That guy means business. He’s a very interesting person. As far as parental guidance issues, the film is not meant for children; it was made for grown-ups — don’t misunderstand the theme. It has mature content that could be offensive to some, including obscenities (i.e. f-word) and controversial themes of sexuality. You can read more about the film’s content at IMDB, and you can visit the film’s official site here. –Kevin Ott
And now on to my interview with the awesome Santa Clause, Charles Barnett. You can visit Santa Charles’s official website here, which sells very unique Santa beard care products.
As a Santa what made you decide to start making your own beard care products?
Actually started a couple of other businesses after becoming unemployed four years ago, and I couldn’t find a job due to the economy. I decided if I can’t find a job I will just create one for myself. I first started out with North Pole Publishing Company, which I am still doing and publishing books for Santas that want the North Pole logo on it. Then a friend of mine said hey have you thought about putting your beard products on the market? I didn’t know at first if anybody would be interested in it, but it is the best I have used. So I decided, at his urging and a little bit of help with the marketing, I launched it and it was just an immediate hit with the Santa community. I along with a friend of mine are the administrators for the largest Santa site only on Facebook, and we have over 1,300 Santas. We have been up and running only seven months, and we have over 1,300 who are just Santas. Unless you are a working professional Santa, you are not qualified to be on the site. I shared the beard information and products on the Facebook site as well. It is a 200-year-old formula; of course, back then it was made with bear fat and whale blubber [laughs]. I brought it up to the 20th century and made it all organic products instead of animal products, removed all of the paradigms and it is 100% natural.
Besides the products, do you portray Santa for children during Christmas season as well?
Yes, I sure am. I do Bass Pro, and I do my private business I have built up over the last 15 years. I do home gifts delivery; as a matter of fact, I was the one who inspired Mick Foley to do home gift delivery. He saw a home gift delivery I did for WWE legend Jerry “King” Lawler, and that is where his ideas came about. The deliveries are a pre-arrangement where I label the gifts and I set up the time, and I call the parents about ten minutes before I come, and they leave the front door unlocked and get the kids in another room and I sneak in with my bag and I put gifts under the tree. The parents tell the children they hear someone coming in the house, to go look, and they come in and catch me, like in the M&M commercial. It is very special to me; it is something the kids will always remember.
Do you read to the children also?
Yes, I do. I give them three options. They can choose between The Night Before Christmas, The Polar Express, or I take my Bible with me and I offer to talk about the birth of Jesus, from the shepherds to the wise man and what that entails and what Christmas really means.
How did you come about meeting Mick Foley? How did he start using your products?
The first experience with Mick was when he saw my video at Jerry “King” Lawlers house, and he didn’t actual know it was me until later we started talking on the Facebook Santa site and I posted my products and he ordered it and he has been a big fan and user ever since.
Have you seen his documentary I Am Santa Claus?
I haven’t seen it, and I probably will not see it. I judged it like I judge any movies: I judged it based on the original trailers of the movie that they put out there. I wasn’t too impressed with the trailers. I am not picking on it, I just didn’t feel it would be interesting to me. Perhaps if they put out better trailers, which they did eventually put out a second trailer, it would have been more appealing to me — not to criticize it; I just have not seen it. It may be a good movie; it just doesn’t seem appealing to me.