Key West Fantasy Fest: Villains, Vixens and Vampires

By Jody Yetti

Venetian masksWhen your wildest imagination and your most eclectic desires become a reality, and you actually have all your friends partaking in this vision of decadent masked festivity, it can only mean one of two things:

You’ve died and gone to hedonistic heaven, or you’re in Key West, Florida, for Fantasy Fest.

This year’s Fantasy Fest in Key West features even more outrageous debauchery and includes events celebrating 30 years of masquerade madness. Starting Oct. 19 and running through Oct. 28, the festivities kick off with the annual Goombay Festival and the Royal Coronation Ball, where you can cast your vote for the King and Queen.

The Events

The Annual Headdress Ball, a celebrity look alike contest, Sloppy Joe’s Annual Toga Party, and Rum Barrel’s Annual Pirate Bash are just a few of the events that take place on the island. If that’s not enough to inspire the purchase of a plane ticket, there’s also the Pimp and Ho Party, the Living Airbrush Expo, and the Monster’s Ball where sea serpents, mermaids, and other creatures of the deep come to spread their warped water wings.

Invention is the Mother of Necessity

Fantasy Fest was developed in order to bring tourists to the area in the slow season when the weather is still beautiful and businesses need a boost to survive until next season.

Officials created an annual Halloween time festival with a carnival-like atmosphere to celebrate life and the lack of inhibition in costumes or in drag.

On the Heels of Tradition

Air brushing of naked bodies, mostly from the midriff up, has become an annual tradition and competition. If I dare say so, the art transcends parameters, from absolutely scandalous to tastefully done. Women’s breasts take on a metamorphosis, becoming the eyes of a tiger or the ears of an elephant. An entire menagerie of painted bodies walking up and down the street, where no two are the same, can be found at any given time, dancing and laughing. People pose for pictures as if they were the headliners at the circus.

Due to the flamboyant nature of its inhabitants and their free-spirited sense of adventure, Key West has become encapsulated as a result of Fantasy Fest. It has become an annual event that is a must see for anyone gay or straight.

I have danced in the streets, though my “eyes” and “ears” were safely tucked away in their padded cages. I bellied up at Sloppy Joe’s, drank rum with Captain Morgan and ate a cheeseburger in paradise at Margaritaville. The background music was vintage Buffet, “Why don’t we get drunk and …”

I sang all the way back to my hotel and when I got there, everyone awake sang with me.


Jody Yetti, a single woman business owner and seasoned traveler, has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years. She owns Jody’s Travel Inc., a full-service travel agency for single women and other savvy travelers, located in Moriches, NY. Jody can be reached at 631-281-3636 or

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