Letting Tourons Back to Key West

I usually try to keep it lite in my posts… especially during hard times. But today, I’m taking a mostly serious look at the situation in which we find ourselves. I was spurred on by “Key West Lou.” I follow his daily blog about Key West and, of late, “no punches pulled political commentary.” CLICK HERE TO GO TO HIS BLOG

One of Lou’s recent blogs started with:

Key West is closed down. Duval dead!

One of Key West’s famous gentleman’s clubs is The Red Garter on Duval. A strip joint with class. There is a large sign in its window: Sorry….. We’re Clothed Until Further Notice.

A delicate touch! A Key West one!

Lou’s comments and the sign are clever ways to point out Key West is in dire straits during the Cootie Bug crisis.

This pic was posted on twitter by Reese Piper, a stripper at the Red Garter. The comment with the pic was, “My club in Florida’ Clothed Until Further Notice’”
Reese @reesepipewrites proclaims of herself: Freelance writer. Mostly sex work, disability, & the intimate details of my life. Stripper.

Key West (and all of the Florida Keys) are almost entirely dependent on tourism. There is no other industry of consequence in Key West. Right now, there is a roadblock preventing all but residents from entering The Keys. During normal times upwards of 20,000 visitors are in Key West every day… sometimes more. While the full-time resident population of “Bone Island” is small, about 25,000, I would venture to say 95% or more of the residents are in one way or another dependent on tourism. Key West is indeed in trouble.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Col. Lou Caputo directs a driver wanting to continue down the Florida Keys Overseas Highway near Key Largo, Fla. Friday, March 27, 2020. The Keys have been temporarily closed to visitors since March 22, because of the coronavirus crisis. Keys officials decided to established the checkpoint Friday to further lessen the threat of virus transmission to people in the subtropical island chain. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)
Road block allowing only residents into The Keys.

I sometimes comment on Lou’s blog… he’ll let anyone comment. So today, I commented about the “clothed till further notice” sign. I said:

Perhaps the sign should read, “We’re clothed until Fantasy Fest.”

(If you don’t know what Fantasy Fest is… it’s held around Halloween every year and can be best described as a “public tits & tease. I wrote about it last October.

After reading Lou’s blog, I went looking for pics or videos of Key West during the shutdown. There’s one video of a bike ride down Duval just about sunset time. It’s eerie. All the places I like to go to have their doors closed and no visitors. Capt’n Tony’s, Sloppy Joes, and yes, The Red Garter, are all locked-up tight. There are no tourists. Even Margaritaville is closed except for take-out food.

Margaritaville closed! The horror of it all!!!!

(Here’s a LINK TO THE VIDEO, which is about 50 minutes long. Seeing The Rock like this is very eerie.)

There is some truth to my “clothed till Fantasy Fest” comment on Lou’s blog. I mean, unless you’ve recovered from the virus, there is no immunity. And with a vaccine maybe 18 months away, what are we to do. Visitors are the lifeblood of “The Rock.” Can it survive all the way to Fantasy Fest… or longer?

 And if Key West does open up for Fantasy Fest… or any time before there is an effective vaccination, what will happen? Of course… Tourons will flock to Key West by the tens of thousands. They will eat, drink, and party all over Key West… especially right down Duval.

(Touron = Tourist + Moron – Not all tourists are morons and vice-versa.)

Of maybe 20,000 visitors every day of Fantasy Fest, a few… maybe 100 or so, will have (or carry) Cootie Bugs into the bars and restaurants… and right down the middle of Duval. They will visit all my favorite places like the Chart Room, the “Trat”, the Rum Bar, or Aqua for dueling bartenders. And yes… Margaritaville!

So… I have to ask: Do you want Key West and the world to wait 18 months for a vaccine, or; perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time to rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with. Yes… it will be a lot like walking naked down the middle of Duval street… all exposed.

But that’s precisely what Sweden is doing. Not the naked part… but the “ripping off the Band-Aid part. They are allowing mostly “business as usual” and accepting that rather than taking months for everyone to get Cootie Bugs, they are getting it over with… and then on with life.

Hummm… thinking about it and considering it’s Sweden… maybe the naked part does apply.

So how long do we wait? It’s six months till Fantasy Fest. Is that long enough? Probably not. In a short period, the Turons are sure to bring the Cootie Bugs into every bar, restaurant, hotel, and t-shirt shop in town.

Southernmost Point before Cootie Bugs
Southernmost Point post “lock-down.”

Can we even wait until Fantasy Fest… six months from now? If we wait that long, then there will be no bars, restaurants, hotels, and trinket shops for visitors to come to. All but wealthy and retired residents will be forced to leave. They will have to find work elsewhere. Then there will be nobody to serve the booze, no musicians, no one to work in the t-shirt shops…. And no one will be at the front desk of the hotels. Those who make Key West the vibrant place that it is will be gone. The Rum Bar, the Trat, and maybe even the Chart Room will be gone. And I’m sure we can’t wait 18 months until there’s a vaccine.

Finally… if we’re not back to normal by Fantasy Fest, I’m walking naked down the middle of Duval street. That should be motivation enough to get re-opened.

So I ask… when should re-open? When do we “rip the Band-Aid off?”  I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision.

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