Gift-giving season is underway and so many choices are kick-ass — while others are just plain ass. The line that separates “whoo-hoo!” and “what the f@%k?” on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Solstice is a slim one. We’re not going to tell you into which categories the following gift items fall, so just figure it out for yourself.
Who doesn’t love some part of David Bowie’s career? Whether you’re more of a Ziggy Stardust, a Thin White Duke or a 1980s rock-star-era fan, “Bowie: A Biography,” by noted author and rock journalist Marc Spitz, is sure to be a captivating read.
Another welcome addition to the ol’ bookshelf could be “POP: Art Inspired by New York’s Own Subcultures From Celebrity to Subway” by out artist Olan Montgomery. In its pages, Montgomery combines digital art, photography and hand-painting. The book also celebrates queer icons such as Alan Cumming, Rufus Wainwright and Amanda Lepore.
If our supply of petty cash were healthier (or even existent), when Amanda Palmer blew through town on her recent tour, we’d have her self-published coffee-table book, “Who Killed Amanda Palmer: A Collection of Photographic Evidence.” The 130-page book features more than 100 photographs depicting the bisexual singer-pianist as dead (and sometimes naked), with accompanying stories by her current boyfriend, Neil Gaiman (“The Sandman”).
Speaking of pop icons, George Michael releases his “Live in London” DVD just in time for the holidays. The special 23-song concert is the first live DVD of Michael’s 30-plus-year career, recorded and filmed in London’s Earls Court arena during his 25 Live Tour. And yes, he does perform Wham!-era hits like “Careless Whisper” and “Everything She Wants” alongside his solo hits. Extras include three bonus tracks and a special behind-the-scenes bonus documentary.
Dance diva Kristine W also gets in on the DVD action with “Kristine W: The Ultimate Video Hits Collection,” a two-disc set featuring all of her hits.
Holiday-themed musical offerings usually are trite and sappy, but not when rock stalwart Joan Jett is at the helm. Her Blackheart Records label recently issued “A Blackheart Christmas,” featuring punked-up and rocking holiday standards, original tunes performed by the likes of Girl in a Coma, The Vacancies and The Dollyrots, among others. There’s also Jett’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” and The Blackhearts’ take on “Silent Night.”
If you prefer more dance-floor-friendly holiday music, check out D1 Music’s “Club Christmas 3” and “Ultimate Club Christmas” collections by hit producers Peter McLean and Keith Kemper.
“Club Christmas 3” features instrumental dance versions of “Away in a Manger” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” “Ultimate Club Christmas” collects all the best dance-music tracks from “Club Christmas,” “Club Christmas 2” and “Club Christmas 3,” including remixed takes on popular classics like “O Holy Night” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
If you want a little ha-ha-ha with your ho-ho-ho, Kathy Griffin has a new CD out, “Suckin’ It for the Holidays.” While the title is the only thing remotely holiday-themed about the CD, it was recorded live during one of her recent sold-out shows at the Borgata in Atlantic City, and she does her usual no-holds-barred dishing on celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Oprah and Taylor Swift.
Concert tickets aren’t anything to sneeze at as far as gifts go, and The Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, has some superstar concerts coming up in its Event Center in January. R&B sensation John Legend kicks off the year Jan. 1, followed by über-diva Mariah Carey Jan. 2. Lady Gaga sold out her Jan. 16 concert in record time, but maybe your Santa knows a good ticket broker or is friends with whoever welds together her outfits.
If you want to laugh, Borgata’s Music Box is offering up riotously raunchy laughs in the form of Jim Norton Jan. 15-16 and Lisa Lampanelli Jan. 17.
While you’re in Atlantic City, you might want to pick up the gift of relaxation for yourself or someone you know you annoy the hell out of. Qua Baths & Spa at Caesars Atlantic City, 2100 Pacific Ave., is offering Joy, Peace and Harmony treatments at special prices during the months of December and January. A mere $180 can get you a Joy Intensify Facial, a Peace Back and Foot Ritual or a Harmony Back and Scalp Ritual, each clocking in at a stress-melting 75 minutes. For more information, visit quabathsandspa.com.
While we’re on the subject of beautification, the ladies, gents and drag queens in your life might appreciate a gift package from LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, 1428 Walnut St. The company, which creates organic products with little or no preservatives and absolutely no animal testing, has a fine selection of gifts, from the inexpensive Sexy Boy Massage Bar ($7.95) and Rehab Shampoo ($12.65) to the more-elaborate Fairy Tale Gift box ($64.95) full of bath and body treats. For more information, visit www.lushusa.com.
Need some (not really real) bling-bling to go with your new face? The National Constitution Center, in conjunction with the “Diana: A Celebration” exhibit, is offering jewelry inspired by Princess Diana, including a sterling-silver and cubic-zirconia crown necklace with matching earrings, as well as a limited-edition reproduction of the elegant choker necklace Princess Diana wore to a White House reception, where she danced with John Travolta. The necklace is comprised of 35 flawless cubic zirconia and a 9-carat sparkling Austrian deep-blue crystal sapphire, set on seven strands of faux pearls.
Aspiring princesses (drag queens, pay attention: this might be for you) may enjoy a Decorate Your Own Tiara kit, featuring a wooden crown and name plaque to decorate with glitter, glue and jewels.
The Constitution Center’s store also boasts a large assortment of Diana-related gifts, including a selection of books and CDs inspired by the royal and fashion icon. What good are accessories without the proper attire? LA’s Revenge Is..., a California-based eco T-shirt company, supports the drive for marriage equality in its home state with the launch of its “All Love Is Equal” tees for men and women. Considering the state of marriage equality in most of the other states, we’re going to need more shirts. Order one today at www.revengeis.com.
Need something to wear downstairs? Jason Sutherland, the man who helped launch the fun-underwear industry with Ginch Gonch, recently launched his new line, Piss & Vinegar.
Think about that for a second. Somebody started an underwear company with the word “piss” in the title. Was “skid mark” already taken?
The edgier and more grown-up line includes “I Love Boys” briefs and the sure-to-be-controversial “I Love Jesus” briefs. It may seem like sacrilege having God’s son emblazoned on bikini briefs but, then again, it could be a welcome gut-check to have Jesus staring back at whomever is there when your pants come off. The briefs are also available with Buddha and “I Love Girls” on the front.
Nothing, and we mean nothing, protects your digital information like the 35th-anniversary collection of Hello Kitty/MIMOBOT flash drives. The high-speed and cute-as-a-button gadgets are Mac and PC compatible and preloaded with wallpapers, icons and screensavers starring the Japanese icon. Hello Kitty is a billion-dollar-a-year industry, so who are we to judge? For more information, visit www.mimoco.com/shop/hkteddybear.html.
Looking for something in a local gift? How about booze? Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant recently launched the Afternoon Delight Imperial Coffee Porter, the latest in its Iron Hill Bottled Reserves line of tasty brews. Available in festive gift packaging, the beer is a variation on the acclaimed Pig Iron Porter that is higher in alcohol and was brewed with locally roasted Nicaraguan coffee beans.
That’s right, coffee beer! The next best thing to a Jager-bomb.
Anyway, 750 mL bottles of Afternoon Delight sell for $19.50, but guests can also purchase a gift pack containing a bottle and two logo snifter glasses in a two-bottle carrier for $28. For more information, visit www.ironhillbrewery.com.
Another homegrown gift idea is “black./womyn.: conversations with lesbians of African Descent,” the DVD release of the award-winning independent documentary by tiona.m. Order online at https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=10063069 by Dec. 4 to guarantee delivery before the end of the year. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/tionamproductions.
Looking for some 2010 eye candy? Two new calendars should fit the bill. Out bodybuilder and former Mr. Georgia, Bo Dixon, releases his first solo calendar, “Reinvented.” For a little more variety, check out Rentboy’s “Working Men” calendar. Either one should be easy enough to find at Giovanni’s Room (www.giovannisroom.com) or online.
If you don’t want to go the PlayStation/Wii/X-Box route for the kids this season (which is something they will hate you for), try the new board game Jishaku ($19.95), a game of strategy and concentration using round magnetic stones on the egg-crate like game board. Learning Express named it 2009’s Best Toy of the Year. Jishaku is the Japanese word for magnet. A guy named Steve invented the game in Florida. Give your kids those nuggets of data to chew on to distract them from thinking about why they aren’t killing zombies with their friends in “Left 4 Dead 2.” For more information, visit www.playjishaku.com.
Last (and probably least) in our parade of gifts is Cigotine. The technological gadget has been referred to as “an iPod for smokers.” Um ... yeah. For $79.95, this device allows smokers to light up in public spaces.
We hope no one has his or her life savings tied up in this product.
It’s an electronic cigarette that supposedly looks, feels and tastes like a tobacco cigarette, but without all the tar, chemicals and negative societal effects associated with smoking. At the tip is an operating-mode indicator that glows red when used, simulating the burning of a cigarette. It then releases a water mist that resembles smoke but evaporates within seconds, leaving no residue.
We’re all for plausible alternatives to smoking, but if this thing takes off, electronic crack pipes and digital heroin needles can’t be too far behind. www.cigotine.com.