Welcome to the ranks of the deceased. We’ve been dying to have you.
The theme this weekend is anime which is interesting because I wouldn’t have thought that any group of people were capable of topping the Japanese in terms of being sexually terrifying, but lo, if ever there was a crowd to do it, here it is.
People keep saying “Hey, Johnny Depp!” and pointing at me, but not because I’m really good-looking or anything. They’re doing it because I’m dressed as Hunter Thompson replete with bucket hat and Hawaiian shirt and long prop cigarette and every once in a while I make my girlfriend stop and wait in the middle of Duval Street while I pretend to be navigating the crowd while “high” on Ether. I’m not high on Ether. I am super drunk* on frozen grain alcohol, which keeps showing up in my hand somehow even though every time I check my wallet I have zero dollars.
At some point I lose my long prop cigarette. At some other point I black out and start trying to climb on top of tables in the Flying Monkey off Duval Street (don’t ask me why, I don’t know why) and wake up the following morning next to a girlfriend who it’s fair to say, neither endorses nor is pleased with my previous night’s conduct. It takes a few mimosas before she realizes how incorrigible I am and how it’s really not my fault that the policy about climbing on tables in the outdoor area of the Flying Monkey is nothing but a synecdoche for the arbitrary inverted totalitarianism that finds expression in the Corporate State. She asks how exactly singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” while on top of the bar table constituted as an act of post-structuralist rebellion against the corporate state and I tell her I’ll have to get back to her on that.
There are people sleeping out on the balcony of our hotel room because there’s not enough room on the floor. There were two air mattresses, but both of them got popped the first night after a bunch of the guys (all of them dressed as “Macho Man” Randy Savage) spent about two hours practicing pile-drives and other important wrestling moves on them (two hours is a low-ball). It’s fair to say that the girls didn’t find these antics nearly as wacky as the guys do. People keep getting added to our hotel room and I don’t know how. One girl shows up on our doorstep carrying her really sad hobo-esque bindle in tow and asks to stay with us because apparently she was in a hotel room with her boyfriend and a bunch of his friends (who are girls), but apparently his friends (who are girls) took him aside and let him know that they weren’t huge fans of his girlfriend per-se and could he please ask her to leave the room.
“They really suck,” she says.
“Sounds like your boyfriend really sucks,” somebody avers.
The second night we’re dressed as hot cops. This means around 15 people, all dressed as the cutoff-wearing stripper cops, like Gob from Arrested Development. We’re not even close to the oddest-looking group on the street, mind you. My friend keeps shining a flashlight in different people’s eyes and saying things like “You been doin’ some partying tonight, buddy?” and “Found a bag of cocaine in this vicinity not too long ago, now you wouldn’t happen to know anything about that would you?” He’s a drunk and an a**hole, but dammit if he isn’t a fine officer.
There are also the religion fanatics out on Duval in droves with their signs., trying to save us. It’s a huge bummer. It’d be better if they were trying to save somebody else. They’ve got the glazed-eyed solemnity and self-regard that’s signature to the kind of person who knows exactly who is getting into heaven. They all look like Caspar Milquetoast. The penmanship (markermanship?) on one of the signs is sublime, it bears the mature mark of one devoted to his or her craft.
At this point, I’ve had an untold number of men and women alike come up and tell me “you can arrest me anytime.”
I lean on one of the street barricades next to a cop for a few seconds .“So,” I say. “What year you graduate from the academy?” He looks like he’s considering baton-ing me, so my girlfriend tugs me away.
When people hear that Fantasy Fest is a lot of naked people, it generally conjures the image of some utopian nudist colony where everybody’s fit and tan and their parts aren’t horrible-looking…not so. It’s mostly old hippies who are “Full Monty.” I mean, like, liver-spotted septuagenarians whose main quality is sagginess. In Irish Kevin’s, a bunch of 40-year-old swingers keep on making out behind us, then swapping spouses and making out again. “I hope I’m a swinger when I’m 40,” a hot cop remarks between beers and everyone quietly considers this.
We lose somebody the second night. Meaning he’s somewhere in Key West and we can’t find him. There’s some mild panic. Eventually it comes to light that he passed out in a golf cart, but he’s good now.
Sunday morning is breakfast at a place that doesn’t serve breakfast, but instead Mojitos for “hair-of-the-dog” purposes. The walls of the bar and grill are all covered in dollar bills that people have written sh*t on and stuck up there and somebody in our group estimates that if they liquidated their assets they’d have at least $10,000 on hand from the walls alone. Someone also spots a dollar bill from a previous year with my name written on it that I have zero memory of sticking up there. Our waiter is this droll 30-year-old guy who ends up confessing to us that he graduated from Yale at like 18 and from there went into IT and from there said, “F**k It,” and moved to Key West and now waits tables like ours.
Somebody says “Well, if you live in Key West then that means you’re successful.”
The guy stares for a few seconds before he says, “You want to call up my mother and tell her that?”
Come to Fantasy Fest next year. Sleep on a hotel room floor for $50. For the loose-knit ranks of the “unsaved,” that’s not a bad deal.
words and photos_ jesse salvo.
*distraction does not endorse underage drinking. The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of distraction magazine.