If you are one of the large number of people on the planet yet to hear of Krampus — the “anti-Santa,” the “Christmas devil,” the “man beast of corporal punishment” — never fear. Nerdy With Children garnered an exclusive interview with Klaubauf himself, and the following excerpts are sure to become the definitive text about this legend. Well-known in many regions of Europe as a supporting act of Santa Klaus, Krampus brings retribution to naughty children. You might have seen him on a greeting card, a t-shirt, or as a guest on the Colbert Report and Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated. Now, he’s enjoying what can only be described as an international comeback.
NWC: Tell us about how you got your start, what things were like in the beginning.
Krampus: Well, I made my first appearance centuries ago, I mean we’re talking pre-Christian times here, in what is now known as Germany. It all took off so fast; I was all over the Alps pretty much simultaneously. Ol’ Kringle, I mean Santa Claus, had come to me and confessed that he couldn’t handle the whole gig alone anymore, and people were getting anxious for something new. You know, their kids were misbehaving and the promise of presents wasn’t enough to keep them in line. Santa knew I was more into the negative reinforcement, so he humbly asked for my assistance. He brought the presents, and I brought birch rods to whip the naughty ones. Let me be clear: only the bad ones. Keep in mind, Kris makes the list.
NWC: There are a lot of rumors concerning your image, like the cloven hoof thing, and how much is non-fiction versus cosmetic showmanship. Do you want to settle this here and now?
Krampus: Sure, I’m proud of what I am. I do have a cloven hoof, but just one. My other foot resembles a human one. These big horns on my head, those are real. I guess people doubt them because they look so much like goat horns, but they’re mine. My tongue is really this long, and forked, I didn’t have surgery. You Americans and your fascination with Gene Simmons of that rock ‘n’ roll band, Kiss. Bah. My teeth are pretty long naturally, but they’re not so pointy. I do file them. Ladies are not very fond of sharp teeth, unless you’re pale and wear a cape. And I’d have to say my eyes are so red and bloodshot mostly because I’m tired. I work hard. The naughty list just keeps getting longer. If only parents disciplined… Sorry, I get a little passionate when discussing obedience.
[He paused here, and set down the phone.]
Krampus: You know, I never get tired of good gin Martini or a nice glass of schnapps. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, my appearance. Let’s just say the women are big fans. Children who see me… not so much. In this business, you take the good with the bad. A little filing here, and a nip tuck there. I wouldn’t call it high maintenance, but no one is going to confuse me with the jolly fat man. Some call it a career, I like to think of it as legacy. [Audible sipping noises.] Martinis… let’s just say, they help me cope.
NWC: You get a lot of impersonators and they usually wear fur or hair suits. Can you talk about this?
Krampus: Yeah, I love the fanboys. It’s a big homage, you know, and they’re doing it now all over Europe. I’ve got a whole holiday in places like Austria and Hungary. It’s called Krampusnacht, and lots of young men dress up as me. That’s usually on December 5th. They run around getting drunk and scaring kids, and that’s what I like to do, so I can understand.
As for the hair, that’s always been something I can control. I usually keep it really long all over my body, for warmth you know, and it’s easier not to worry about my outfit. But once in awhile I like to wear a nice suit and get a good waxing. I think all the guys wearing big furry suits and sharp teeth are portraying me at my best, my scariest. I do have a caring side. Especially, in a Jacuzzi with a few females around.
NWC: What about all these postcards featuring you without Santa?
Krampus: That’s not a new thing. It’s really been going on since the 1800s. There was a big pop culture movement, people sending their friends and family pictures of me doing frightening or comical things. “Grus von Krampus” or “Greetings from Krampus” was the big thing. It even got kinda weird in the 1960s, with images of me with sexy women. I didn’t mind, for sure, posing with the ladies in lingerie, but even I wasn’t sure what the cards had to do with Christmas. However, you never turn down an invitation from the Playboy mansion.
NWC: What’s happening with your merchandising now?
Krampus: It’s huge. There’s a lot going on for me, including a beer with my name on it, and Krampus Christmas stockings. There are also tons of t-shirts featuring me out there. Even Krampus panties are easy to find these days. I’ll just say, some of this stuff might be good to have around as a reminder to your misbehaving kids. Maybe not the under garments, those are just good to have around when I visit on December 24th.
NWC: Why do you think your popularity is increasing throughout the US?
Krampus: You know I really think people are looking for a balance to all the saccharine Christmasy consumerism. And now that the economy is down, people’s spirits are gloomier; maybe they can relate to me a little bit more than Santa. Plus, I think it might be this new invention call the internet. Seems to turn a centuries-old cultural tradition into a cute pop culture fad. Through the decades and under all this fur I still consider myself quite the classy gent. I wake up every Christmas Eve and pull out my birch sticks and polish my noisy, heavy chains. I’ll keep putting people’s kids in my wicker basket and throwing them into the river as long parental discipline keeps failing. I just can’t imagine doing anything else.
NWC: Well Mr. Krampus, on behalf of Nerdy With Children, we kindly thank you for your time.
Krampus: Certian… Wait, did you say Nerdy? I really need a new agent. I thought this was Naughty With Children. Ahh well, you’ll have to excuse me. It’s Martini time.