Another year comes to a close. Start planning for 2012.
Revelry, craziness, public drunkenness, body paint, nudity, exhibitionism and sex. Yes, it is all here in Key West for Fantasy Fest. No matter how often you attend, no matter how much you have seen in the past, you will always always find yourself gawking in disbelief at least a few times each year.
Since 1979 when Fantasy Fest first began, this little town on the rock has seen the final ten days of October grow to rival Mardi Gras in intensity. Key West can’t rival New Orleans for size and ability to pack in sheer numbers of people but easily competes on pure energy, adrenaline and carnal craziness.
Not all that occurs during these closing days of October are exactly legal. People are reminded by the event organizers, radio, newspaper and public officials that nudity is to be avoided. This is a tourist and commercial event meant to support the economy of Key West and help support AIDS, nothing more.
Let me laugh out loud right now. Fantasy Fest is great but a family and general tourism event it is not. Nor is it incredibly helpful to the common retail merchant. On the contrary. The owners of the stores in Key West that I spoke with said they generally shut down or expect a major drop in revenue for Fantasy Fest. Visitors are more interested in drinking and acting crazy than buying merchandise. The only part of the local economy that wins are those selling beer, liquor, food, hotel rooms and body paint. Throw in condoms in for good measure.
Tell me more about the naked people Carl! What is there to tell? I tell most people to expect the 10:1 rule. You will generally see 10 people naked whom you prefer not have seen to every 1 who you are glad you did. If that ratio works for you, you are a good candidate to attend. Beware there is also another rule you should know. Once a day on average you will see something that will be so bad as to mentally scar you. Think 75 pound, 75 year old naked lady in silver studded S&M outfit getting herself off with a dildo on Duval St. as a big crowd gathers around snapping pictures, taking video and encouraging her to climax. Like I said, these things can affect you for many months and years to come.
Kudos belong to the Key West police department. The men and women in blue excel in keeping their cool and allowing people to live and let live even when they are breaking the letter of the law. I have only seen them step in when public safety or true criminal activity takes place.
The best part of Fantasy Fest for me is seeing friends and the same faces, that you likely only see naked, drunk and painted once a year. You might not even recognize them if you were to run into them in the grocery store if they were not letting loose at 3 a.m. outside Captain Tony’s.
Fantasy Fest is a great time and a must do at least once in your life. I personally don’t feel I need to attend every single year. Mostly because I don’t like huge crowds of people. My favorite is heading over to Dante’s to hang at the pool. The eye candy there is always top notch and the fun factor off the charts. At the end of the day I think I still prefer being in Key West on that rare quiet day during the off season when the streets are quiet, the bars relaxing and I can chat with everyone at the bar friends and strangers alike. Maybe if I meet a nice looking lady whom I’d like to see naked I’ll tell her about Fantasy Fest and encourage her to attend. Can you blame me trying to even out my 10:1 odds?