Photos and more stories to follow~
Key West, FL
October 29, 2017
Describing the annual Fantasy Fest in Key West is like trying to explain an out of body experience or a temporary alternate universe. Every idea of what you expect to see in public, fuhhgetabodit.
One part Nudity and two parts levity become the hydrogen and oxygen that waters this southern most outpost of the continental U S of A for ten days preceding every Halloween since 1979.
Duval Street is transformed into a clothing optional playground. Almost like a trip to the zoo where visitors take photos of the wildlife, except the exotic animals don’t usually strike a pose to best reveal their plumage, or, as is often the case during Fantasy Fest, their lack of plumage.
At first, I feel embarrassed to stop and take a long gander at a man, woman, couple or group of nearly naked people. It doesn’t take long to learn that everyone on the street WANTS to be seen in his or her finery, whatever that is.
They see me with a camera in hand, stop, flash a brilliant smile, and pose as if I’m paparazzi from People Magazine. I know how they feel. In the past three days, I’ve donned my Chippendale costume for the Masquerade March or my whites for Toga Night, or a tie, hat and speedo shorts for a daytime saunter down Duval Street.
You would think that this much display of flesh might lead to rampant pagan carnality. Au contraire. Remember how much fun you used to have in a sandbox or playing dress up when you were a kid? This is the adult version.
Every year since its outset 23 years ago Fantasy Fest announces a theme, this year’s is Time Travel Unravels.
For some, pasties, speedos and a splash of body paint does the trick. Others spend months dreaming up elaborate, kooky, creative costumes to match the theme. Some are ordered online and might cost a bundle but many are stunningly creative homemade affairs that make me laugh out loud. Exposing flesh is not required. As long as you’re having fun, you dress however you damn please.
Laughter is the Lingua Franca of the festival, levity is thick in the air. Fantasy Fest gives people permission to parade around in attire perfect for a beach on the French Riviera or dress up like King Tut, Cleopatra, Captain Morgan, Cher…they don't call it the "premier masking and costuming extravaganza" for nothing..the list goes on.
Body shaming? No way!
Fantasy Fest is a celebration of the human body in all its shapes and forms. In a world so obsessed with toned bodies this might be the most appealing vibe of the festival. A perfect example of the spirit of The Conch Republic.