Most people have heard the story of the Clintons’ “x-rated” tree decorations during the Christmas of 1994.
The story originated primarily from Gary Aldrich’s book, Unlimited Access. In some ways it is better and some ways worse than it is commonly remembered.
If you have not had a chance to read Mr. Aldrich’s book, or if you have forgotten the details, here are some of the more relevant excerpts from pp 101-6:
“Good Morning, Mrs. President”
… Just before Decorating Saturday, I ran into some of my old team members from the previous Christmas…
“You aren’t missing anything. You wouldn’t believe what they’re calling ‘Christmas decorations’ this year. It’s unbelievable. In fact, it’s downright disgraceful. There’s this one ornament, a clear lucite block, and inside are some old computer parts, and that’s a Christmas ornament, see?”
My other former team member chimed in, “Yeah, it’s true, and there’s all of this carved dark wood, not resembling much of anything—just sticks and twigs tied together. They look like fertility gods or something. We can’t tell.”
“Yeah, and there are pots, and carvings, some that look kind of obscene, and boxes, but nowhere can we find anything that resembles Christmas. Nowhere.”
“And have you seen Bertha?”
Yes, I had seen Bertha—big, ebony Bertha. Bertha was a statue that Hillary had selected to be placed along the public tour line. About eleven other examples of modern art were in the Jackie Kennedy Garden (the companion garden to the Rose Garden). Bertha was twice life-size and was very naked. In addition, Bertha had enormous buttocks, far out of proportion to the rest of her body.
That is why the permanent White House staff named her Bertha, which was short for “Bertha’s Big Butt.” This is what the first lady considered appropriate for the eyes of the thousands and thousands of visitors who daily toured the White House—Bertha’s Big Butt…
Fast forward to one year later. Again I was asked to help decorate White House. I didn’t get it. There wasn’t much to do. The Clintons didn’t like tinsel—not one tree had any tinsel—nor was there any snow, nor did there seem to be much for decorators to do…
Perhaps Hillary didn’t trust us. She had, in fact, “hired” some volunteers of her own. While in New York, Hillary had seen an office she thought was well-decorated. She ordered the staff to find the decorators and bring them down.
The permanent White House staff wasn’t wild about this idea, but, after all, it was the first lady’s show, and everyone understood that it would be done the way Hillary Clinton wanted it done…
The GSA, the Park Service, and the Residence maintenance staff had erected all the trees. Some staff were on high ladders, hanging evergreen garlands. We gathered around folding tables to unpack the ornament boxes.
It took about ten seconds to get the first reaction. “What in the world?”
Then another. “What the hell?”
Then another. “Look at this thing! What is it?”
“Hillary’s ornaments is what!”
From one end of the hall to the other, about forty people were picking up these “things,” staring at them, turning them around, trying to figure them out or stifle their embarrassed laughter. I turned to one of my team members. “What are these things?”
“I heard the theme is The Twelve Days of Christmas, as interpreted by art students from around the country. Hillary sent a letter out just two months ago, really late actually, asking budding artists to send in an interpretation of The Twelve Days of Christmas, and this is what they came up with.”
I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. “This stuff is just childish garbage! We can’t hang this stuff on any White House Christmas tree! This is a bad joke.”
“Gary, the orders from the First Lady’s Office are to hang these. It’s what she wants, so we have to hang them. Anyway, many of them are from ‘blue ribbon’ art schools, as designated by the Secretary of Education. The whole administration has a stake in this.”
“Well, if this is blue ribbon, then we’re in serious trouble, educationally.” I pulled out one ornament that was five real onion rings (five golden rings) glued to a white styrofoam tray, with a hook attached to the back so it could be hung. But where? Maybe in Clinton’s bedroom so he could rip off a midnight snack?
I was disgusted, but some of it was actually pretty funny.
“Gary, come here, look at this!” It was a mobile of twelve lords a-leaping. They were leaping all right. The ornament consisted of tiny clay male figurines. Each was naked and had a large erection. My friend said, “Whoops!” and he dropped it on the floor. Then, “Oh, no,” as he stomped on it. He joked, “Man, I hope I don’t get in trouble with Hillary for that!”
Some of the ornaments were silly and some were dangerous, like the crack pipes hung on a string. We couldn’t figure out what crack pipes had to do with Christmas no matter how hard we tried, so threw them back in the box. Some ornaments were constructed of various drug paraphernalia, like syringes, heroin spoons, or roach clips, which are colorful devices sometimes adorned with bird feather and used to hold marijuana joints.
Two turtle doves became two figurines that had the shells of turtles but the heads of birds; there were many of these. Four calling birds were—you guessed it—birds with a telephone, and there were at two miniature phone booths with four birds inside using the telephone. There was a partridge in a pear, without the tree—a clay pear with a partridge head sticking out of it. Three French hens were French kissing in a menage a trois. So many of the ornaments didn’t celebrate Christmas as much at they celebrated sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Several of the birds had dark glasses and were blowing saxophones…
I went over to one of the tables I hadn’t looked at yet. What’s this? Of course. Two turtle doves, but they didn’t have shells this time—they were joined together in an act of bird fornication.
I picked up another ornament that was supposed to illustrate five golden rings. One of the male florist volunteers grabbed my arm and laughed and laughed…
I was holding were sex toys known as “cock rings”—and they had nothing to do with chickens.
Another mystery ornament was the gingerbread man. How did he fit into The Twelve Days of Christmas? Then I got it. There were five small, gold rings I hadn’t seen at first: one in his ear, one in his nose, one through his nipple, one through his belly button, and, of course, the ever-popular cock ring.
I couldn’t believe the disrespect that these ornaments represented. Many of the artists invited to make and send something to hang on the tree must have had nothing but disgust, hatred, and disrespect for the White House and the citizens of this country, a disgust obviously encouraged by the first lady in the name of artistic freedom…
Here was another five golden rings ornament—five gold-wrapped condoms. I threw it in the trash. There were other condom ornaments, some still in the wrapper, some not. Two sets had been “blown” into balloons and tied to small trees. I wasn’t sure what the connection was to The Twelve Days of Christmas. Condoms in a pear tree? …
Hillary’s social secretary, Ann Stock, came down, carefully looked at the tree and its decorations and pronounced it “perfect” and “delightful.” …