NEW TIMES So um, I’m wondering if you could maybe explain who or what exactly you are.
KRAMPUS Well, if my cleft foot, hair, and horns weren’t any indication, I’m a Krampus. European children know me well as something of a demon—amazing that they know what that is without having read Dante’s Inferno—that will punish them for misbehavior. In essence, St. Nick brings gifts to the good ’uns, and I punish the bad ’uns with anything ranging from coal to abduction. I’m a busy guy!
NEW TIMES What exactly is your relationship to St. Nicholas? Is it more easygoing, like, “You handle the good kids, I’ll handle the bad?” Or is there some kind of rivalry going on between the two of you?
KRAMPUS You know the old good cop, bad cop routine? Imagine that but on a global scale. Ultimately, we’re each working toward the same goal—helping kids to not be the little snots they sometimes have a tendency of being. What sucks is once they reach a certain age, they’re out of our jurisdiction. So I’d say that the big man and I are one of those unlikely friendships—we respect each other, but it took a while to get close. When two people do the same thing so differently, it can be hard for them to get along at first. But after so many generations of doing the job, we can now sit and have a tall one by the TV on off-season and enjoy ourselves.
NEW TIMES Let’s pretend for a moment I’m a naughty kid. I’ve been bratty all year, right, and now I see you coming after me, cracking your whip and rattling your chains. Is there any trick to keeping you from dragging me off to your dark lair?
KRAMPUS I like schnapps … .
NEW TIMES I understand you’re pretty big in Europe, right? Why haven’t you caught on in the States?
KRAMPUS You may have heard that I’m considered too inappropriate by American standards—too scary for children. Anyone who has seen cartoons from the ’80s or ’90s has a hard time believing this—yeesh. The truth has to do with the over-commercialization of Christmas in America. Hasbro, Mattel, etc. … they don’t want families opting to not buy their products to punish naughty children. As a result, less and less reproach is given to the brats each year, and more moolah is in corporate pockets. Also, Greenpeace would tie me to a metaphorical electric chair if they found out that coal was given as an actual punishment. *Expletive!*