It's a tale as old as time: Kid lies awake in bed anxiously awaiting Christmas morning, hears Santa Claus gallumph down the chimney to drop off those soot-covered presents, and tip-toes downstairs to sneak a peek at ol’ St. Nick. Then he sees it -- Mommy and the jolly, red-cheeked fat man are makin’ out near the tree! Say what?! But now there’s a rather modern surprise-ending (spoiler alert): Santa turns out to be another missus. Hold the phone: Mommy kissing another woman? It can’t be!
It can be, and it is glorious. Snagging recent headlines from the Huffington Post (which touted its "sexy lesbian spin") and the blogosphere the world over, Danielle LoPresti’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” music video follows that exact aforementioned story line to wondrous effect [watch it here].
In the video, LoPresti plays the part of a much more attractive Kris Kringle, and her real-life spouse (and bandmate) Alicia Champion acts as the mommy out for some winter wonderland romance -- and their adorable son, Lucian, plays the part of the inquisitive onlooker who catches them in the act. It’s hardly the first version of the song (which, by the way, perfectly captures the jazzy, big-band essence of the original), but the video certainly breaks new ground in a couple of different ways.
LoPresti and Champion -- founders of the annual San Diego IndieFest music festival -- talked with SoundDiego recently about the ways that “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” has made an impact, their trepidation about its reception, and more.
Dustin Lothspeich: How did the idea for doing the “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” video come about?
Alicia Champion: It was last year during Christmas when that video of Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel’s rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” went viral. We were watching it with our son, and we thought, “After we watch this cute video of two adorable white kids doing a holiday number, we'll show him a video that has a brown kid or two.”
Danielle LoPresti: Lucian is a beautiful mix of African American, Mexican and white, so we’re constantly introducing him to exceptional examples of kids like him, as well as men of color, to balance the whitewashed world we live in. So we thought, “Let’s try to find a holiday video that features a family that looks like ours," same-sex, multiracial, etc. But we couldn’t find a single one. So we thought that since we had access to the resources, maybe we should make one ourselves.
DL: It looks like Lucian’s a natural -- does he seem interested in continuing down the acting path?
AC: Thank you! … We think he did an incredible job. We were really blown away ... It was a truly exhausting experience for him. We learned firsthand why most children’s roles in Hollywood go to identical twin or triplet sets! If he wants to keep acting, he’ll have to come to that on his own.
DL: Public reaction to the video seems overwhelmingly positive -- which is great. I’m always scared to look at comments under YouTube videos, and it seems like the trolls, for the most part, have kept their mouths shut (which is basically a Christmas miracle). That’s great!
DLP: That’s really kind of you. I’m smiling right now because I felt the same way -- hesitant and trepidatious about scrolling down as the first comments came in. But now there have been so many amazing things people have shared, and a lot of people saying “Finally!” and “I’m crying!”, etc., that it’s filled us up with warm fuzzies.
DL: Do you feel like you’re breaking new ground with the video?
AC: I don’t know that we’ve broken new ground, per se, because there are some prominent examples on television like ABC’s “Modern Family” and “The Fosters” (which both followed truly groundbreaking shows like "Queer As Folk" and "The L Word”). However, when it comes to holiday-specific video media, I think we may be among the first to put out something like this. I know a year ago we searched and searched and couldn’t find anything like it.
DL: Do you think that’s indicative of a more acceptant view of the LGBTQ community by society in general?
DLP: I do feel that society is beginning to see the LGBTQ community as less odd and more “acceptable” as ever before, for sure. But we still really do have a long way to go. Especially for the trans community, children and teens. We’re going in the right direction, but the very fact that we still rarely see a mixed-race family and very rarely see a same-sex couple in our TV commercials is just one indication of how far we have yet to go.
DL: Were you reluctant at all to put your whole family in front of a camera for the video?
DLP: Yes, absolutely. Every time we make art that makes a statement about some kind of social justice issue (which is common for us), we stand the chance of being criticized, and have been many times. But we feel a serious obligation to do our part to bring about the changes we want in our community for ourselves and our son. Sometimes the strongest form of activism is having the courage to be ourselves. This video is really just us being who we are as a family. We’re hoping that people will see themselves in the video -- in the love we have between the three of us, the humor, the exhaustion of parenthood, etc. If they do, we’re hopeful it will help create less fear and more connection. So the risk felt worth it.
Danielle LoPresti released a new holiday-themed EP, “Winter’s Light,” on Dec. 17 through Say It Records, and it features the new original song “Grateful” and a few classics such as “O Holy Night” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Listen/buy it through Bandcamp now, or purchase it through iTunes or CDBaby beginning Friday, Dec. 25, 2015.