October, 1953. New York City.
Record Exec: So Eartha, we just heard the preliminary recordings for “Santa Baby.”
Eartha: Lucky you.
Exec: Uh, yes. Thank you.
Eartha: You’re welcome. I assume we’re done here.
Exec: Uh, no. There’s more that we need to discuss.
Eartha: Well, lets make it snappy. I promised Orson Welles we’d eat canapes off of Marlon Brando at 3 and I can’t be late.
Eartha: The canapes get soggy.
Eartha: Orson hates soggy canapes.
Exec: So, uh, … the vocals are great.
Eartha: Of course they are.
Exec: The issue is that … well, the mood of song.
Eartha: The mood is perfect. It’s Christmassy, or whatever. It’ll make people feel (she flutters her hands dismissively).
Exec: Yes, but … some of the lyrics. You tell Santa to, uh, ‘hurry down the chimney.’
Eartha: (Lights a cigarette, takes a long drag.) Yes. He’d better.
Exec: It’s a bit … suggestive.
Eartha: Yes. The chimney being widely-known to be the vaginal canal of any home.
Exec: (coughs loudly) Ah, uh, excuse me. It’s just that … it doesn’t quite capture the holiday spirit.
Eartha: What on earth are you talking about? It’s basically a shopping list. It’s a Capitalist dream. Even Joe McCarthy’s flag pole will get a little straighter after he listens to it. What’s more Christmas than that?
Exec: It’s supposed to be a flirty song about someone asking Santa for everything on their list, because they’ve been good.
(Eartha merely raises an eyebrow. The exec starts sweating profusely.)
Exec: Uh, and see. The thing is. The way you sing the song … it sounds like … like you want to … uh … like perhaps you’ve … Like you want to …
Eartha: Like I’m going to fuck Santa?
Exec: … Yes.
Eartha: Of course it does. That’s the whole point.
Exec: (Gasps and whimpers softly.) But … but it sounds like you are going to have sex with Santa in exchange for all of these gifts you’re asking for.
Eartha: Would you rather I go uncompensated for my efforts?
Exec: Well … right. (Starts dabbing forehead with handkerchief.) Okay, the thing is … we can’t play that on the radio.
Eartha: Of course you can.
Exec: People are going to be deeply uncomfortable with the idea of you wanting to have sex with Santa.
Exec: Santa doesn’t have sex!
Eartha: (Barks out a quick laugh, slamming her hand on the table.) Everyone has sex, sugar plum. Santa is a sexual being as much as you or I. You’ve heard the poem. He was chubby and plump – a right jolly old elf. What on earth do you think that is referring to? A creature who is sneaking into your home in the quiet of night to impregnate your mother, your aunts, possibly your grandmother if she’s up for it, and return the following year to collect the infants and leave gifts in return.
Exec: I… I’m sorry. What?
Eartha: Where do you think those little elves toiling away in his workshop come from?
Exec: You … you think the elves are-
Eartha: The inevitable result of St. Nick’s carnal passions. Of course.
Exec: Santa’s elves are not his children!
Eartha: If you have another theory I’m willing to hear it. The only thing native to the Arctic are polar bears and walruses, not tiny pointy-eared toymakers. Either Santa has populated the North Pole with the fruits of his loins or he’s enslaved an entire species of tiny elves and dragged them to a frozen hellscape to build toys for children. Pick your poison.
Exec: The elves make toys willingly!
Exec: (Exhales heavily.) Santa is not a father.
Eartha: Would you like me to ignore how unbelievably thick you’re being right now? He’s literally Father Christmas.
Exec: (Shakes his head as if to clear it.) You’re suggesting that Santa is the father of all of his elves, which he had with various housewives across the globe? And no one else notices that they’re carrying his children for a year?
Eartha: Look, I don’t know the details of an elf gestation period. But I’ve known women who were completely able to conceal their pregnancies by simply carrying around large, strategically placed bowls of fruit for most of the 1940s.
Exec: And Mrs. Claus is okay with this arrangement?
Eartha: I should think so. I’m no gingerbread home wrecker.
Exec: Well (rubs forehead) … even if Santa has sex, people don’t want to be thinking about it.
Eartha: Well perhaps they should start, because it’s a fact of life, darling. This is the hard truth behind Christmas. Why do they think that old elf is so jolly, anyway? Because there are women who are willing to tie his plump wrists to their bedposts and ride. his. sleigh.
Eartha: Please. Call me Ms. Kitt.
Exec: (Flustered.) Ms. Kitt. We need music that people can play for their families. For their children.
Eartha: I guarantee you, my little peppermint stick, people will play that song for decades and it won’t occur to them what they’re listening to. They’ll decorate the tree and the children will play with their toys and eat cookies and finally grandmama will raise her head and say “Is this song about fucking Santa?” and they’ll tell her to be quiet and give her another dose of laudanum.
Exec: Aren’t you at all worried about your career in this scenario?
Eartha: My previous single was called “I Want to Be Evil.” So, no.
Exec: We’re going to get boycotted. The southern radio stations are saying they won’t play it.
Eartha: Honey, please. The south was gonna ban whatever I did. It just means people will have to buy the record. (Stands up from table.) I’ve got to go. Orson’s waiting and Marlon’s probably sweating all over my rumaki. Release the song.
Exec: You’re … you’re sure?
Eartha: Trust me. It’s going to be the biggest holiday hit of 1953.