Renaissance means rebirth in French and, with Fantasy Fest 2017 undergoing its own reinvention this year, it’s a natural that The Royal Campaign is entitled ‘A Royal Renaissance’.
Beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 25th, at The Southernmost House, 1400 Duval, the evening’s poolside party renders official who is determined to become the 2017 King and Queen – and Duke and Duchess.
With the Atlantic surf as their soundtrack and a sky going South Florida violet as their backdrop, reigning Queen Jane Rohrschneider and King Christopher Rounds will preside, as AIDS Help Board President Christopher Elwell offers other introductions and a special lifetime achievement award.
“We are so fortunate to have incredibly unique individuals running this year”, noted AIDS Help Executive Director Scott Pridgen. “Each is witty, empathetic and courageous…and each have a unique story, in their own casual words, to tell the public about how HIV/AIDS affected them.
“As our ambassadors, each Candidates can alter the path of someone’s life: help avoid an HIV diagnosis…initiate conversations about PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily medication for those who are HIV-negative but at high sexual risk of contracting HIV…or remind folks that sex with a condom, provided free by AIDS Help, protects against a variety of ugly STIs (sexually-transmitted infections).”
“We also expect a lot of tweeting and texting…apps and e-mail blasts…radio and TV appearances…the methods Candidates can use to communicate their individual messages is fairly limitless in 2017,” Elwell noted.
But first comes the Kick-Off song-and-dance, produced by Nadene Grossman Orr, Fantasy Fest Queen 2003 and her team from We’ve Got The Keys, who also now oversee Fantasy Fest itself.
From a lottery held prior, home-grown entertainment will be provided.
“We never know quite what to expect when our Candidates take the stage,” stated Elwell.
Too, Royal Purveyors will be on-hand.
Jeff Woessner, owner of Jeff’s Gems, will present The Royal Rings. Crowns are designed and provided by Neptune Designs, owned and operated by Jay and Carmenza Pfahl. Intended for “less formal” events through the year, The Royal Sashes are donated by Fantasy Fest Queens Ginger King and Meta ‘Fizz’ Retew and John Nolte (in remembrance of former Kings Gregg McGrady and Jean-Claude Gosselin). King and Queen Pins come from Bill Heller and Leigha Fox, both crowned in 2002. The Bitch Sisters (Scott Fuhriman and Kelly Summers) continue their 2001 tradition of bestowing Royal Scepters. Appliqued capes are gifted by Frank Cicalese (Fantasy Fest King 1995) and life partner Bob Conti. Royal Florist since 2008. Richard Dennison of Gourmet Nibbles & Baskets supplies Kick-Off centerpieces and bouquets for the Coronation Ball. A ‘family award’ comes from J.T. Thompson (of ‘One Human Family’ and Design Group Key West), who invented the Duke and Duchess plaque to be more inclusive and recognize their selfless contribution. Duke and Duchess Royal Sash purveyors are 2009 Duchess Stacy Stahl and the Dukes of that year, Mark Blackburn and Mark Patterson (also King of 2012). Duke and Duchess Gift Basket Purveyors are 2013 King and Queen Stephen ‘Sunshine’ Sunday and Diane Hilton May. On an island that treasures a good toast, Dennis Beaver, of the Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit at the Tennessee Williams Center, will reward the King and Queen with gold-and-silver engraved Royal Chalices. Royal Transportation Purveyors are Karl and Stacy Stahl; Vince and Karen Taporowski; Jeremy and Kim Wilkerson; and Karen Frank-Noll and Jerry Hughes. Marky Pierson of Wonderdog Studios is the Royal Throne Maker.
Documenting it all is Royal Photographer Peter Arnow of Spectrum Imaging, who for years has taken the official photographs.
What follows Kick-Off is a series of frenzied, frisky, feisty and always fabulous series of fundraising events Keys-wide, all innovated by the Candidates and the corps of volunteers they’ve assembled, to raise the most money and ascend to the Coronation throne at the Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, on Friday, October 20th.
Those events, always subject to change due to weather and venue, will be accessible at www.AHMonroe.org, various Facebook platforms, in ‘The Citizen,’ individual websites, YouTube and via various social media outlets.
Special events of benefit to all those competing range from a weekly ‘Aqua Idol’ competition at Aqua nightclub, 711 Duval, commencing August 29th through October 17th; the much-loved Sunday BINGO upstairs at the 801 Bourbon Bar, hosted by reigning Queen Mother QMitch and equally rewarding all Candidates from August 27th through October 15th; a meet-and-greet at The Bottlecap, 1128 Simonton, on Friday, September 1st; the 5th Red Shirt Run, donated annually by Theme Runs owner Beth Moyes, on Saturday morning, September 30th; and the 2nd Annual Royal Retrospective, at The Custom House, 281 Front Street, on Thursday, October 19th.
Admission to Kick-Off is free, but come prepared to stroll tents of Candidate-oriented goodies for sale that brand their campaigns with logos and catchphrases.
The Kick-Off For The Royal Campaign of Fantasy Fest 2017, Friday August 25th, beginning at 6 p.m., at The Southernmost House, 1400 Duval.