Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch The Museum at FIT ; Dec 4–5, times vary; free
Catch this exhibition on nightlife legend and Haute Couture diva Susanne Bartsch while you can; there are few opportunities to see 80 of her most iconic looks in person. You'll be able to gag over custom looks by designers like The Blonds, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. Step into the shoes of one the city's most creative gals-about-town.
Crafts at the Cathedral Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine; Dec 4–6, times vary; $6, weekend pass $7
Now in its 17th year, this annual holiday artisan market, held at the palatial Cathedral of St. John the Divine, provides a space for more than 60 local crafters to hawk their handmade wares. All admission proceeds go toward the Cathedral and its programs.
Neko Case + Søren Juul Apollo Theatre, 7pm; $40, at the door $45
Neko Case, a razor-sharp alt-country songwriter with a golden voice, headlines this night at the Apollo Theater (moved from its previous date at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple). She released her last solo album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, in 2013 (yeah, it’s a mouthful), and it’s every bit as knockout ambitious as the defiant title suggests.
Baby Jane Dexter: It's Personal! Metropolitan Room; 7pm; $25 plus two-drink minimum
Nightclub legend Baby Jane Dexter connects with each song on a visceral level; if you’ve got the balls to join a red-hot mama on a collision course with raw emotions, she’ll leave you feeling stronger and more alive than you did when you walked in. Her new show includes songs by Cy Coleman, Cole Porter and the Beatles.
Lena Hall: The Villa Satori—Growing Up Haight Ashbury Feinstein's/54 Below; Dec 4–5, times vary; $55–$110 plus $25 minimum
After belting her face off for years in Off Broadway theaters and downtown rock clubs, Hall hit the big time in 2014 with her Tony-winning turn as Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In her latest solo show (her 54 Below debut) she looks back on her hippie childhood and shows off her astonishing vocal range in an eclectic selection of songs.
Samantha Comedy Show The Pleasure Chest; 8pm; free
Upper East Side sex-positive adult toy shop The Pleasure Chest turns into a comedy den hosted by Liz Magee. Bring your own beer to the gratis show with local comics including Matteo Lane, Liza Treyger and Mara Wilson. And hey, if it tickles more than your funny bone, you’re in luck—there’s a 15 percent discount on merchandise throughout the store.
The Family Reunion Ars Nova; 8pm; $15
Tessa Skara (Pop Roulette) and Joe Castle Baker (Streep Show!) form the deranged brother-and-sister duo in this interactive musical-comedy extravaganza. You’ll play games, sing songs and feel like you’re at home—that is, if your home life includes a highly dysfunctional family that expresses trauma through impromptu musical numbers.
DTF Fridays Atlas Social Club; 8pm; free
The rest of the country can have TGI Fridays. NYC's LGBT scene has DTF Fridays, a new party from Chris Ryan at this Hell's Kitchen hotspot that's more skins than potato skins. There are rotating DJs and a new theme every week.
Holiday Cheer for FUV with Brandi Carlile and Friends + Dawes + Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings + more Beacon Theatre; 8pm; $45–$300
Seattle singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile tops the bill at this annual festive concert. She's joined by guests including rootsy Los Angeles band Dawes, and vintage-soul hometown heroes Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.
Pilobolus Dance Theater: Shadowland Skirball Center for the Performing Arts; Dec 4–6, times vary; $30–$70
The long-lived collective Pilobolus teams up with rock composer David Poe and playwright Steven Banks for Shadowland, which uses dancers' backlit shapes to turn an adolescent girl's coming-of-age tale into something fantastical. This performance closes Sunday, so catch it while you still can.
Donnell Rawlings Caroline's on Broadway; Dec 4–6, times vary; $38 plus two-drink minimum
Though most recognizable for his part as Ashy Larry on Chappelle’s Show, the longtime Dave Chappelle collaborator is stepping into his own spotlight. Rawlings has proven himself to be a confident stand-up who oozes with a laid back intelligence on his special (From Ashy to Classy) and deserves the praise heaped on him by the likes of Chappelle and Jamie Foxx.
Gluten! 59E59 Theaters; Dec 4–5, times vary; $18
Stephen Kaliski sends up health freaks in a futuristic comedy about a trendy couple having trouble conceiving a child, which closes this Saturday. Amanda Holston shares direction duties with the playwright.
Paige Turner: Hurry Down My Chimney! Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Cafe; Dec 4–5, 9pm; $22 plus $20 minimum
The sweet-natured, horny hostess of Slurp!, Werk Wednesdays and So You Think You Can Drag throws another log on the fire for the holidays with an all-new show of song parodies, videos and high-energy fun with surprise special guest stars.
Central Park Moonlight Ride Columbus Circle; 10pm; free
Take in the scenery on this low-impact ride through Central Park, good for cyclists of all abilities and ages. Afraid of the dark? No worries. Guides at the front and the rear of the group will keep riders safe.
Jack Dept. NYC: Basic Soul Unit + Volvox + John Barera Bossa Nova Civic Club, Brooklyn; 10pm; $10, free before midnight
Jack Dept. NYC returns for its monthly acid-house and techno party at our favorite intimate, tropical dance-floor-clad bar, Bossa Nova Civic Club. Tonight's visiting artist is Stuart "Basic Soul Unit" Li, the veteran Toronto producer who recently released his no-nonsense techno album, Under The Same Sky, on Amsterdam's renowned Dekmantel label. Support comes from Jack Dept. NYC residents John Barera and Volvox.
Battle of the Belgians Jimmy’s No. 43; 1pm; $69.57
This sixth annual hops-blasted smackdown pits the best of Belgium's imports against a host of homegrown Belgian-style brews. Enjoy endless pours of more than 20 beers both international (Merchant du Vin, Shelton Brothers) and domestic (Two Roads, Jolly Pumpkin) before casting a ballot for your sudsy champion. Between pints, feast on a meaty spread of whole-roasted hog sourced from upstate New York's Flying Pigs Farm and served crackly-skinned lechon-style by the bar's resident Filipino pop-up Tito King's Kitchen.
Target First Saturday Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; 5pm; free
The revered Brooklyn institution stays open late and waives admission on the first Saturday of every month. Attendees can take in performances and lectures, go on guided tours or sip wine between gallery browsing. The nights are often themed, and schedules are announced in advance of the museum's website. Be sure to arrive early for (free) ticketed events within the event.
Crocodiles + Scully + Cabana Kids The Grand Victory; 7pm; $15
Crocodiles take their cue from the dark drones of decades past, including Suicide and especially the Jesus and Mary Chain. The San Diego duo has been hyped with good reason: The music is well styled, gently anarchic and extremely catchy. Listen for songs from the latest album, Boys.
Cyndi Lauper and Friends: Home for the Holidays Beacon Theatre; 8pm; $50–$2,000
The chirpy-voiced pop belter returns to the Beacon with another all-star benefit for her True Colors Fund, which assists homeless LGBT youth. This year's lineup includes Natasha Bedingfield, Boy George, Cam, Sharon Osborne, Kurt Vile and more.
Christmas Across Centuries Church of St. Mary the Virgin; 8pm; $40-$55
The Tallis Scholars vocal ensemble puts the modern-day sacred music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt alongside 16th-century works by John Sheppard and Thomas Tallis in this Christmas gift from Miller Theatre presented in a beautiful gothic midtown church.
The Metropolitan Opera National Council Holiday Sing-A-Long Le Poisson Rouge; 5pm, 8pm; $40
Your big chance to sing (and have a drink) with the Metropolitan Opera comes with this sing-a-long featuring the celebrated soprano Erin Morley. Traditional carols, classic arias and more modern works will intermingle as you dream of footlights and sugarplums. Children are welcome, particularly for the early show.
Sparkle: An All-Star Holiday Concert The Cutting Room; 7pm; $65, VIP $100
Scott Nevins gets back in the Christmas spirit with this night of performances by musical-theater stars and more. Guests at the 2015 edition include Stephanie J. Block, Billy Porter, Max von Essen, Robin de Jesus, Erich Bergen, Lesli Margherita, Julia Murney, Matt Doyle, Nick Adams, Erin Quill, Marty Thomas, Shayna Steele, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alsyha Umphress, Julie Garnye, Natalie Douglas and the Doo Wop Project. Proceeds benefit the Actors Fund.
Jay Campbell Weill Recital Hall (at Carnegie Hall); 7:30pm; free
Juilliard grad and cellist extraordinaire Jay Campbell shows off his diversity of passions in a wide-ranging performance, with pieces from the established avant garde of Pierre Boulez and Elliott Carter, to downtown champions David Lang and John Zorn, to compositions by members of Einstürzende Neubauten and Radiohead.
A John Waters Christmas City Winery; 8pm; $47.50–$110
Get your season in full swing with what is rapidly becoming a tradition: A visit from trash auteur John Waters. In this vaudevillian one-man show, he'll once again deck the halls with wicked wit and other "perverted gifts."
The Landlady Holiday Spectacular The Bell House, Brooklyn; 8pm, $12
Landlady, fronted by local alt-jazz maven Adam Schatz, plies plaintive art pop with an appealingly wide-eyed rock-operatic band. The group hosts a collaborative holiday show featuring a lineup of local musicians including Nels Cline, Eli Paperboy Reed, Cassandra Jenkins, and Nick Hakim.