Fantasy Fest body paint still allowed

 Commission keeps abreast over anatomy



“Breasts are not a sexual organ!”

So said Key West City Commissioner Mark Rossi at the March 4 City Commission meeting in the midst of a spirited debate over whether to outlaw body paint on the aforementioned female breast area during Fantasy Fest.  The issue had been brought up by commissioner Jimmy Weekly, who proposed to change the city ordinance allowing body paint to count as legal clothing during the October bacchanal.

Weekly was addressing what he said was a growing number of citizen complaints over public nudity during Fantasy Fest. But his effort fell on deaf ears.

“Breasts are not genitals,” said commissioner Clayton Lopez.

“I don’t think bare painted breasts constitute debauchery,” threw in commissioner Tony Yaniz, indicating he would not support Weekly’s motion.

In the end, Weekly withdrew his motion, realizing it would have been defeated had it come to a vote. However, he asked city attorney Shawn Smith to draw up a new proposed ordinance that would reduce the size of the “party zone” where raucous behavior and various states of undress are more generally tolerated during Fantasy Fest. Currently the party zone extends beyond Duval Street to include Simonton and Whitehead streets. Weekly suggested limiting the zone to Duval Street only.

He also suggested that the city try to gain the upper hand on the various private parties held during the week-long event by requiring them to apply for special permits.

“We could kind of control the flow,” he said, adding that the city could require outdoor events involving nudity to be scheduled only during the Fantasy Fest parade in an attempt to curtail the amount of bare flesh imposed on city residents.

But before Weekly withdrew his original motion, several residents, Mayor Craig Cates and all six of the city commissioners weighed in. Resident Sloan Bashinsky, who twice ran unsuccessfully against Weekly for commissioner, said that he was confused as to why Weekly was bringing up the issue now when he hadn’t expressed a concern about public nudity in past campaign debates.

“I’m wondering, Jimmy, if you are having a born-again experience, a religious upheaval. Here you are going after a one-week event, which is considered the premier event in Key West,” he said.

“I’m not born again,” Weekly responded. “But I do think we should have a community standard. And that standard shouldn’t include nudity. We need to reel it in.”

Yaniz pointed out that the proposed ordinance change wouldn’t actually add any weight to existing state and local laws already prohibiting public nudity and illegal sex acts.

“The only difference between the ordinances on the books and this is [requiring] female breasts [to be covered]. Am I right,” he asked city attorney Smith, who agreed with Yaniz’s interpretation.

Commissioner Teri Johnston sided with Weekly, pointing out that the issue of illegal and offensive behavior on the part of some Fantasy Fest attendees comes up every year. While Weekly’s proposal isn’t perfect, she said, it does bring the issue up for a long overdue discussion.

“We have got to do something. I want to give clear cut direction to this community that this [objectionable Fantasy Fest behavior] has gone too far. I’m a big proponent of ’if you don’t do it in your hometown, don’t do it here,’” she said.

Mayor Cates said he would have voted for the proposed ordinance change “only because I don’t think it will make much difference.” The issue is, rather, how to better enforce the ordinances currently on the books that outlaw exposed male and female genitals and public sex acts, he said.

Bashinsky, however, had a different take on the situation, pointing out that tourists coming down for Fantasy Fest have already researched the event on the Internet and are expecting a wild time.

“They come down here expecting one thing and when they get here, it’s a church service. It’s bait and switch,” he said.


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