Fans of elimination-based singing competitions will be thrilled to hear that Aqua Idol to benefit the Royal Candidates for Fantasy Fest has returned to Aqua Nightclub on Tuesday evenings for its yearly feature. As always, a talented group of singers has been assembled to entertain a packed house week in and week out. Each season of Aqua Idol benefits a different charity representing a wide variety of local philanthropic causes, including the Key West Realtors’ Association, the Waterfront Playhouse, and, as in this case, AIDS Help of Monroe County.
AIDS Help does incredible work providing case managed health care, food programs, counseling, housing, and clinical and other supportive services for members of the Florida Keys community living with AIDS and HIV. The organization also increases the amount of affordable housing available to the AIDS/HIV-affected community by acquiring, developing, and maintaining low-income housing for those in need. In addition, AIDS Help is committed to educating the community about AIDS/ HIV and linking individuals to opportunities for care. Because of the amazing aid AIDS Help gives to the AIDS/HIV-affected population, the yearly competition leading up to Fantasy Fest is always a weekly highlight in the hot end-of-summer months (as are Aqua Nightclub’s amazing A/C and ice-cold beer).
This iteration of Aqua Idol began on Aug. 29 with eight vocalists – two singers per candidate for Fantasy Fest King or Queen. The starting lineup included both seasoned Aqua Idol veterans and newcomers alike, including Larry Blackburn and Becca Whitten (for Vicki Hodgson for Queen), Mathias Maloff and Laura Richardson (for Bucky Montgomery for King), Destiny Montgomery and Joe Tripp (for Destiny Montgomery for Queen), and Shawn Montgomery and Bernadette Restivo (for Paul Murphy for King). All of the performers have their own style and performance personality and the audiences have been dazzled by them all so far.
Each week features a distinctive theme as well as a distinguished guest judge. Past themes have included songs from the ’80s, country hits, love ballads and show tunes. Guest judges like former Fantasy Fest Queens Mary-Lynne Price and Jodyrae Campbell, as well as weekly judge Martha Robinson, not only offer (occasionally tongue-in-cheek scathing) feedback to the contestants, but often delight the audience with a number or two.
Although it is free to attend Aqua Idol, the contestants rely on donations from the audience to advance from week to week. Traditionally, the contestant who gets the least money from the audience each week is eliminated. However, this year AIDS Help is trying a new format. Instead of eliminating an artist each week, every artist is going to perform each week until the end of the competition. At the end, all of the singers’ tips and donations will be added and the cumulative total will determine the top finishers. The main focus is raising as much money as possible for the individuals served by AIDS Help.
The show runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday night but be warned that the room fills up fast, so the organizers recommend you get there by 6 p.m. at the latest to stake out a prime spot. If you can’t make it to Aqua Idol on Tuesday night but want to donate to AIDS Help in honor of one of the contestants, you can do so via PayPal. Each candidate has a separate page on the AIDS Help website at www.ahmonroe.org. Online donations will be taken into account when the judges evaluate the singers’ totals at the end of the competition. Aqua Nightclub is located at 711 Duval St. ¦
Aqua Idol Tuesdays, 6: 30 p. m. Aqua Nightclub 711 Duval St.