Key West's Fantasy Fest is marketed as a creative costumed event. Body paint rules could change in 2023. FANTASY FEST/Contributed

Painted boobs will be allowed in the designated Fantasy Zone for this year’s 10-day Fantasy Fest celebration — but this could be the last year for it if Key West’s mayor has anything to say about it.

The Key West City Commission on Oct. 12 voted to approve a Fantasy Zone along the Duval Street corridor, where painted breasts are allowed as an exception to the city’s law prohibiting nudity. Breasts must be opaquely covered in paint in order to comply with the law. Nudity from the waist down, as always, remains illegal throughout the city of Key West every day of the year, including during Fantasy Fest.

Mayor Teri Johnston again emphasized her opposition to the Fantasy Zone and the exemption it provides for painted breasts. 

“I think it’s high time we change the parameters,” Johnston said on Oct. 12. “(Fantasy Fest producers) do a yeoman’s job advertising a creatively costumed event, yet we still support semi-nudity. I realize Fantasy Fest 2023 will come with a Fantasy Zone, but I want to modify that for 2024.”

Johnston referred repeatedly to a December 2021 city leadership summit that included senior city staff and all elected officials, where “98% of participants wanted to either do away with Fantasy Fest or modify it,” she said.

Commissioner Sam Kaufman then pointed out, “not a single member of the public was present at the leadership workshop and that’s not how we do things.”

Kaufman called for input from the city’s stakeholders, including the chamber of commerce, the restaurants, hotels, attractions and all residents before any changes are made.

As usual, the conversation will continue after this year’s Fantasy Fest, which begins with the annual Goombay Festival on Friday, Oct. 20 and continues through Sunday, Oct. 29.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.