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Video | Key West's Fantasy Fest packs political punch

BY CAMMY CLARK, cclark@MiamiHerald.com

KEY WEST -- Dressed in red, white and blue, drag queen Gina Maseratti walked down Southard Street in Key West asking Fantasy Fest revelers for their support: ``Vote for Maseratti, your next president.''

What's her platform?

''High heels,'' she said. ``It's all about the shoes.''

On a more serious note, Maseratti explained: ``I'm a member of the Drag party: Drastic Reform of American Government. I'll save you on money because I can be president, vice president and First Lady all in one.''

While political satire has always been a part of Key West's 10-day party, this is the first time in its 30-year history that politics is part of its official theme: ``Pirates, Pundits & Political Party Animals.''

Parade coordinator Judi Bradford said the name was picked more than a year ago, when they had no idea that this election would be one of the most interesting in years.

Before the parade, revelers partied on the main drag of Duval Street. There was John Goldstein of Haines City attired in a tight-fitting red dress holding a sign that read: ``Drag Queens for Obama/Biden.''

''Why? Because Obama and Biden will give us equal rights -- not special rights, equal rights -- that's all we want,'' said Goldstein, who is married to Shel Goldstein and said they have five children and three grandchildren.

Even body-painters got into the spirit. One woman wore nothing but an eagle painted on her chest.

A group of friends from the Midwest proved that yes, you can put lipstick on a pig.

''But we're still pigs,'' said the unofficial spokesman of the group, who dashed off before giving his name.

The parade, with 70 rowdy floats, passed by Rick's Bar, which was turned into Rick's White House, owned by Key West City Commissioner Mark Rossi.

''We're pushing Captain Morgan for president,'' Rossi said.

He also turned his Red Garter Saloon, a topless joint, into the U.S. Mint. ''No bailouts allowed,'' Rossi said.

In the staging area of the parade, Steve Estes of Big Pine Key was putting the finishing touches on his float: Race for Abnormal 2008. The parties: SNAFU and FUBAR.

''If you're in the military, you'll know what they stand for,'' he said.

On the back of the float was a giant swing with two seats representing the Swing Vote.

Another float, named ''Drill Baby Drill,'' had an oil rig attached. It was across from a float that said ''Down With Big Oil & Fuel Prices'' that was pulled by a gas-guzzling Ford F-250 truck.

''It's all political satire,'' Estes said. ``We love it.''

Just two hours before the parade, Cindy Jaques spray-painted ''Straight Jacket Express'' on a float put together by bartenders, waitresses and other Key West locals.

The Straight Jacket Express featured giant heads of both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, but float designer Dave Hutchinson said, ``You probably can tell we're leaning toward one side.''

Signs on the float included: Vote for That One, Chelsea 2016, Vote for Joe the Plumber.

One sign probably summed it up: ``Who Cares What Party As Long As You Party.''


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