Christa Hunt is the founder and director of Key West Burlesque and, more recently, a sales representative for Monsieur Touton wines. She moved to Key West from New York City in 2005 days after Hurricane Wilma. Now, as a single parent, Christa talk about preparing for the novel coronavirus while raising her eight-year-old son, Alexander.
Kevin Assam: Hi, Christa. What’s your occupation?
Christa Hunt: I have two occupations here in Key West. I am a wine rep for Monsieur Touton Ltd. and I am the director of Key West Burlesque theater company.
Kevin: I haven’t noticed any burlesque cancellations, but would you have most likely terminated any such event occurring during the pandemic?
Christa: Absolutely! In fact, we had a show scheduled for Friday, March 20, in Islamorada at the Village Square. We made the decision last Friday to cancel it and refund all pre-purchased tickets. We are now trying to decide if we will need to cancel our April show at the Key West Theater. We will make that decision in the next few weeks. As of now, we feel it’s in the best interest of public health and safety to cancel any events during this pandemic.
Kevin: You’re a single mother, right? What’s been the response from your child’s place of education?
Christa: Yes, I am a single mother. To be more exact, I am an only parent. On Friday, my son’s school closed until March 30. He was enrolled in the Key West Art and Historical Society’s spring break camp for next week but it was canceled due to the pandemic.
Kevin: Now that he’s home early, how much of your schedule gets altered?
Christa: As of tomorrow, my entire schedule will be altered. I usually work from9a.m.to56p.m.duringtheweek visiting restaurants, bars and retail accounts for my wine rep job. It’s not possible for my child to be home by himself all day — he’s only eight. Visiting accounts with an eight-year-old in tow isn’t possible either. Truthfully, I haven’t had much time to figure out exactly what I’m going to do.
Kevin: I know most people love their kid, but do the adjustments and added time together get annoying? Does the added worry over routine changes become more stressful than fear of the actual virus?
Christa: The schedule adjustment and the kiddo being home for the added amount of time will be more trying and exhausting than annoying. My son is super active and social. He’s involved in loads of extracurricular activities and he has play dates all of the time, which won’t be available or advisable. I definitely love having extra time with him, but realize that not being active and social leads to both of us being frustrated — only getting to spend time with each other. At the moment, the routine changes seem more stressful than fear of the virus. Trying to stay on track with my work and keeping the kiddo entertained is a lot. But I realize if we don’t all take these extra precautions to flatten the curve, things will get worse and the stress will be more long-term.
Kevin: How concerning are the current runs on groceries as a single parent?
Christa: It’s a little terrifying to think about the mass hysteria over groceries. I have tried to be careful in my shopping and preparation to not be excessive or hoard things that may be in short supply. My son and I are both healthy and I would prefer not to overstock. However, as a parent I have to make sure my child’s needs are met. My biggest concern is not having the money to afford groceries if I’m unable to work.
Kevin: Is it starting to feel like Hurricane Irma all over again or is this worse?
Christa: Yes! This pandemic definitely brings up similar feelings to what we experienced with Irma. The worry of income loss, uncertainty of how bad this could actually be, and the inability to control what is happening around us are all too familiar. What makes this worse is how widespread it is and how little we can do to protect ourselves and loved ones from the virus. With the hurricane, sooner or later it’s over, usually within a few days. This could be ongoing for months. It’s definitely much scarier!
Kevin: Would you even use a child sitter in light of the calls for social distancing?
Christa: Honestly, no! I consider myself a very socially conscious person. It’s in our best interest to limit close contact to as few people as possible. One of our regular babysitters is in her 70s. I would be devastated if we accidentally exposed her to the virus. The only responsible thing to do is to limit our contact with people as much as possible by social distancing since we cannot know who is carrying it and who is not.
Kevin: Do you think it could get to a point where the show must go on and, financially, events have to be restored?
Christa: The vast majority of my friends and colleagues are in the entertainment, hospitality or food and beverage industry. They are already feeling a severe financial crunch. Gigs are being canceled left and right. Restaurants and bars are closing down or closing early. Everyone’s money is being affected! But what I’m seeing right now is a bunch of people getting creative. Instead of saying “the show must go on” as usual, I hear ingenious ideas to generate income from their own homes. However, financial stress is a tricky thing. I am sure we will see people, sooner than later, restoring events and shows — if there’s an audience out there willing to attend. As for Key West Burlesque, we have shows scheduled for the end of April. At this point it is very unclear if we will move forward with the events.
Kevin: When this is all over, will there be an even bigger appetite for entertainment and going out? Is there any creative gain to be had from resetting the scene?
Christa: There always seems to a big uptick in live entertainment after downturns like recessions and hurricanes. I imagine people will be longing for theater and excited for fun social situations. Historically, the greatest art comes out of the toughest of times. People will have loads of time on their hands to create over the next few weeks. So, I’m sure the creative gains will be tremendous!
Kevin: What would you most like your child to walk away with from this whole experience?
Christa: An understanding of what it means to be socially conscious. I hope to teach him, through my words and actions, that he should not selfishly disregard what is for the greater good of our community, country or world. It’s hard not getting to hang with your friends for a few weeks. Spring Break Adventure camp being cancelled is super disappointing. But if missing out on these things helps flatten the curve, then that is what is important! ¦
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.