Tags: cutthroat | professional | santa | business

Cutthroat Professional Santas: It's a Business

Cutthroat Professional Santas: It's a Business

Santa Claus trainer Ed Taylor (Screengrab of YouTube post/@Ed Taylor)

By    |   Monday, 11 December 2017 09:06 AM

"Cutthroat" professional Santas today run their own competitive seasonal businesses, they their have agents and websites, and they attend schools that teach them the ins and outs to being a jolly old St. Nick. The big question is, should you stoop to being a mall Santa.

Hollywood movies have given the public a wide view of Santa Claus, from 1947's "Miracle on 34th Street," to Tim Allen's "The Santa Clause" in 1994, to Billy Bob Thornton's caustic mall Santa-criminal in 2003's "Bad Santa."

Ed Taylor, 63, comes with an agent and gets paid $350 per hour to play Santa in Los Angeles and $800 per hour on Christmas Day, Time magazine reported. He said he started in a Microsoft photo booth in 2012 and now during the winter he is fully booked.

"People were telling me, 'You're great — you need an agent,'" Taylor told Time. "The first few weeks, I'm thinking, 'Yeah, right,' but by the time the season was over, I was like, 'I need an agent,' and an agent signed me in the spring. Next thing you know, I'm doing television work and all kinds of great corporate parties and celebrity events, and I'm just having a blast."

Randy Cook, 62, who works the Santa circuit in the Seattle area, told Time he is booked for corporate events and is a brand ambassador for Janus Motorcycles and outdoor retailer Filson. Cook said he has already turned down nine gigs because he is so busy.

"Your website has to hit the top of the Google search," said Cook, who calls himself a performing Santa as opposed to a sitting Santa, and emphasized his internet marketing efforts. "… You have to have the entrepreneur’s attitude, not an employee attitude. You got to be able to take the risk, get out there, and do it. It's hard for some people."

Most Santa Claus impersonators who work during the Christmas holiday season can find work from late November through Christmas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau said in 2013 that shopping mall Santa often pulled 10-hour shifts and saw more than 150 children a day, per the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Cook said the shopping mall jobs are the ones he actively tries to avoid.

"I just really think that kind of Santa in the mall taking photos and marketing that to death has not been great for Santas, and I don’t think it's something I want to be involved in," Cook told Time. "I know those Santas get the lowest wages of any Santas out there. … They're just pooped out."

Ad Week said in 2015 a company called Noerr Programs booked Santas for about 200 regional shopping centers, and while a firm called Worldwide Photography signed Santas to multiyear contracts.

Taylor told Time that he runs The Santa Claus Conservatory, an online school for mall Santa hopefuls, and his videos train more than 1,000 potential Santas around the globe on their appearance, personality, and business strategy.

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"Cutthroat" professional Santas today run their own competitive seasonal businesses, they their have agents and websites, and they attend schools that teach them the ins and outs to being a jolly old St. Nick. The big question is, should you stoop to being a mall Santa.
cutthroat, professional, santa, business
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2017-06-11
Monday, 11 December 2017 09:06 AM
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