BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - At the end of a long, dark hallway in an undisclosed building in Baton Rouge, you’ll find him building toys.
His beard is almost perfect holiday length. He squints through reading glasses at the toy on his workbench. It’s not until he reaches for a tool you realize this is no ordinary Santa.
Tattoos decorate this Santa’s hands and forearms. He wears a plug the size of a dime in his earlobe.
And the toy? It’s a rubber tongue.
“I started modifying toys. I would take action figures or Barbie dolls and stuff and cut them up and modify them,” the jolly old elf joked. “It never quite hit the point of requiring therapy because I was able to talk my way out of it.”
Joe Santa is sort of like the real Santa’s deranged cousin, and his toys are more appropriate for the kids on the Naughty List.
The grotesque is where this Santa lives.
“I started what I like to now call the Serial Killer Home Decor Collection,” Santa quipped.
Using tools that look more like torture devices than sculpting implements, Santa shapes plastic, clay, old cow horns, deer antlers, and anything else that may be handy into creepy-crawly art.
“I’ll go out to the field across the street and pick up twigs and branches and put a dirty skull in them and turn it into a lamp,” Santa said. “You can’t go to the store and buy a lamp that looks like it’s made out of people. It’s a niche market.”
Santa has been “doing skulls,” as he calls it, for two and a half years. He says they sell almost as fast as he can finish them. His biggest seller is a women’s shoe that looks like it could bite your foot off.
People seem to be drawn to it, and the more morbid, the better.
“A lot of people, you realize, they see art when they go to a museum, but they don’t see this type of stuff everyday," he said.
And that may be a good thing... Skulls turning into spiders and rabid footwear might send some running for the doors.
But that makes no difference to Santa. He spends his free time sculpting nightmares simply because he enjoys it.
“If I make it and it’s not perfect, then it’s my imperfect creation,” Santa said. "And that’s still fine because I created it.”
So maybe he’s more like Dr. Frankenstein than any Santa the world has ever known.