By B.E. Earl
12/16/2005 7:51 PM EST
Hey kids! It’s Earl again with some non-movie related silliness for your reading entertainment. I took my usual early December vacation last week to do some additional damage to my liver, and this year’s hot spot was Key West, Florida. I’ve been to Key West a number of times of the past dozen years or so, and its’ always one of my favorite places to be. Great weather, great restaurants and bars, friendly locals and there is sure to be some kind of weirdness going on whenever I’m there. I’ve seen Jimmy Buffett perform on the street, I’ve seen drag queens galore, I’ve seen manatees up close and personal, but nothing…nothing prepared me for what I saw this past week at Fantasy Fest.
Let me give you a little background on Fantasy Fest in Key West. Fantasy Fest is their off-kilter version of something like Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnivale in Rio. It’s a chance for many, many people to come down and unwind in the warm sun and warmer nightlife of Key West and dance to their own tune, so to speak. Mind you, Key West is more than a little friendly to those with an alternative lifestyle, so you can imagine what happens when the city throws a party and asks everyone to REALLY let loose.
I’ve never been to Fantasy Fest before. I love Key West, but I prefer it during the down times when the streets aren’t clogged with tourists and there is no need for reservations at Louie’s Backyard. It’s just how I like/liked New Orleans. Great town, but I would never go during Mardi Gras. I like to actually be able to get into the bars and restaurants rather than shuffling along the sidewalks with all the other sweaty drunks. I had not planned on going to Fantasy Fest this year either, however, Mother Nature pointed her magic wand and made Fantasy Fest come to me.
You see, it was supposed to be the week before Halloween like it is scheduled every year. Costume parties, parades, Pimps & Ho’s parties, leather fetish nights, toga galas, the works. It happens every year culminating with the fat lady singing on the Sunday prior to Halloween. Hurricane Wilma begged to differ. While the hurricane hit the little island four days before the Fest was supposed to start, the city was a few feet underwater and there was no way it could support the influx of Fest-ers. When I read that city officials were planning on re-scheduling the OddFest, I knew that it would be during my trip down there. I mean I just KNEW it! I viewed this scheduling change with equal part dread and fascination. What we saw down there also turned out to be equal parts dread and fascination.
The official website for Fantasy Fest warns that nudity is illegal in the city of Key West and that all revelers were encouraged to remain clothed at all times. Apparently body paint is ok for the ladies as long as your privates remain private. The first night of Fantasy Fest, this seemed to be the case. As the days wore on, however, all bets were off. On Day 2 we saw a woman of 45 or so pedaling down the street on her bike wearing nothing but a smile. The cops didn’t seem to mind, and oh yeah…it was still 11:30 in the morning! Lady Godiva was getting the party started early.
I’ve never been to a nudist colony or beach before, but I had heard horror stories of flabby old men and women, most of whom you would prefer to see wearing quite a few layers of clothes. This describes the majority of those that chose to be naked during Fantasy Fest. Whoops…there goes grandma and grandpa, and…ouch…she’s actually wearing more than him. How does he keep that black sock on? Yeah…you read it. One black sock. That scene played itself over and over again during our time at Fantasy Fest.
Oh sure. There were some attractive folks who decided on going au natural, but they were few and far between. There was one woman we kept running into who was mostly nude and very attractive and she seemed content with just standing around while everyone under the moon posed for pictures with her. To that young lady I say well done. Most of them, however, liked going to the gym as much as they disliked wearing clothing. Don’t get me wrong. I had a pisser down there! These people had no hang-ups whatsoever and they all looked like they were having a wonderful time. I often wondered how they purchased drinks since none of them had any place to put money, but they all seemed to be appropriately liquored up so maybe folks were just giving up booze. I dunno.
So if you are ever thinking of attending Fantasy Fest, let me plant this little thought in your head. Go down to the local supermarket sometime during the day when all the retirees are out shopping for kitty litter and prune juice and picture all of them wandering the streets of Key West wearing g-strings and the aforementioned black sock. If you are able to keep your lunch down, then take a trip and keep your sense of humor because a sense of humor is all that you need to keep you going. Oh…and one black sock of course.