Key West Florida, mid 1977, had not quite been “discovered” yet. It was a year or two before Fantasy Fest started. Many young “expats” were literally at the end of the road on US Highway 1. Most of these Key “Westerners” left all sort of baggage behind, family, friends, lovers, wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, police, etc., you name it. I got drunk, along with some of my SF team-mates, with Jimmy Buffett and Shel Silverstein because of team-mate Alton Tinney. I thought Silverstein drew cartoons for Playboy magazine, I later found out he also wrote great kid’s books.
Charles Kuralt once said in an interview, “I met a fellow in Key West, which is undoubtedly our most laid-back American community, Clyde Hensley. Clyde says human beings were not made to labor from dawn until dusk. Human beings were just made to hang out. There’s Clyde. And I learned a good deal about how to how one really should live while I was in Key West and much of it from Clyde. Human beings were just intended to be on this Earth to enjoy themselves a bit. It’s a philosophy you don’t hear much in this intense, work-oriented society of ours. But to the extent that one can survive without working from dawn to dusk, I’ve about decided Clyde is right.”
Tennessee Williams was the 1st Grand Marshal for Fantasy Fest and Hemingway’s old house is still a tourist attraction. The Hogs Breath Saloon said “Hog’s Breath is better than no breath at all!” We used to hang out at Sloppy Joe’s Bar a lot, we did not know at first that it was “famous” until some tourists came in one afternoon and told us. Even some of the cops were gay in Key West and everyone knew what it meant to “party on…”
Unfortunately, I think it has changed especially with the introduction of the Hard Rock Cafe. When I heard about that, I figured Key West would never be the same.