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The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence host their Krampus Pageant again

It’s time to honor the Central European tradition of the Krampus, a sort of evil Santa. | Photo by Sloane Kanter

If all five octaves of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” give you a tension headache and the perennial fracas over Starbucks’ holiday cups makes you want to steal Christmas from Whoville, then The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s fourth annual San Francisco Krampus Pageant might be for you.

Everybody’s favorite irreverent nuns return to El Rio on Saturday, Dec. 3, for a display of sexy paganism that honors the venerable ritual of messing with children’s heads. A sort of bizarro-world St. Nick, the Krampus is a pre-Christian figure often depicted as a hairy goat-human hybrid with horns, fangs and a forked tongue. Whereas Santa gives out presents, the Krampus whacks ill-behaved kids with a birch rod.

The Sisters also host the Sexy Jesus and Foxy Mary contests every Easter. | Photo by Sloane Kanter
This is a particularly terrifying Alpine demon. | Photo by Sloane Kanter

There won’t be any violence perpetrated against juveniles, to be clear. (It’s a bar! You have to be 21.) But the troupe behind Easter’s Hunky Jesus and Foxy Mary contests is committed to respecting the solstice-centric, heathen origins of the holidays. So there will be drag, and there will be live music. A requested donation of $10 to $20 funds Berkeley’s Pacific Center for Human Growth, one of the oldest LGBTQ+ mental-health organizations in the country. 

The winning Krampus receives a special-effects makeup gift package and “an array of prizes to help numb them through the holidays,” which sure sounds like alcohol. Better still, with the contest at 4 p.m., the whole thing is early enough in the evening that truly dedicated contestants can go terrorize some spoiled brats afterward. 

San Francisco Krampus Pageant

El Rio, 3158 Mission St. | $10-$20
Saturday, Dec. 3, 3-7 p.m.

Astrid Kane can be reached at