AUGUST IN KEY WEST IS HOT. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE thinking: Key West isn’t special — August just about everywhere in the country is hot. Yes, Death Valley may be setting records for three-digit digit temps, but Key West’s humidity is positively brutal. We’re talking walking through molasses, stopping at every other bar just for water (an act so blasphemous you know we would never commit such a sin unless less moved by duress of the direst sort), keep your kids and pets inside for the love of all that is holy kind of blazing heat. And as if the scorching temps weren’t enough to keep us nice and toasty, Tropical Heat is back for its 14th year of lighting the island on fire. Key West Tropical Heat, hosted by the Key West Business Guild, runs through Sunday, Aug. 19, and promises five nights and four days chock full of gay male erotica. (Mom, you can stop reading here.) Lest the prude amongst you run to cover your eyes and ears, the schedule does feature the occasional art show, trolley tour or nightclub act. And though the weekend is geared toward men, women are welcome to a handful of the events. As always, the Business Guild has mobilized its business members, gay-oriented or non-, to organize an astonishing 30-some events and activities. All-day programming will carry Tropical Heaters from mornings on the water to afternoon tours to happy hours and on until the wee hours of morning.
Aquatic highlights of this year’s daytime schedule include the Blu Q Snorkel and Sandbar Cruise offered Thursday through Saturday (bluqkeywest.com), as well as the Sandbar Sunday Excursion. Aboard the Blu Q , Key West’s only all gay sailing catamaran, participants will have the opportunity to snorkel, kayak, explore the reefs and explore and play like a true local. Those excursions are just the tip of the volcano (iceberg just doesn’t seem appropriate for an event called Tropical Heat, now does it?). The full schedule is a dizzying runaway train of nonstop entertainment.
FOR THOSE LOOKING TO ENJOY THE NOONtime sun in as little (or no) clothing as possible on Thursday, Equator Resort, 822 Duval St. (www.equatorresort.com), will host the Bare or Underwear Pool Party from noon to 4 p.m. A wide variety of drinks will be available for just $5. Make sure you get a solid nap in after all that sun exposure. Saloon One’s annual Fore-PLAY party begins at 10 p.m. at 801 Duval St. “in the REAR!” (www.801bourbon.com/1saloon.html).
We know all these late-night events are super tempting — and who hasn’t said “I’ll just have one more …” and found themselves belting out showtunes at Bobby’s on the other side of midnight? —but don’t forget about maximizing your sunnier waking hours. There are a number of aquatic outfits available for you to sun those buns every day from Thursday until the end of your Tropical Heat weekend.
FRIDAY’S DAYTIME FEATURE IS A NOON SPLASH! Pool Party at Bourbon Street Pub, 724 Duval St. (www.bourbonstpub.com), followed the Traffic Light Party, an annual favorite. This year’s theme is “Village People Edition,” with prizes for the best reproductions of the sextet’s iconic costumes. The Traffic Light Party runs from 7-10 p.m. at Alexander’s Guest House, 1118 Fleming Street (www.alexanderskeywest.com).
Nightfall means it’s time for a show — in this case, the Aquanette’s “Reality is a Drag” revue at 9 and 11 p.m. at Aqua Nightclub, 711 Duval St. (www.aquakeywest.com).
For something a little more risqué, we offer a choice between two enticing events: The Glow Party at SideBar, 504 Angela St. (www.sidebarkeywest.com), from 9 p.m. until the party ends or Saloon One’s Hotter Than Hell party from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. “Unleash your fetish,” the ads advise. The event is fetish attire or clothing optional with clothes check provided.
BOYS, WE HOPE YOU BROUGHT THOSE HIGH limit credit cards. Kick off Saturday morning with the Boys in Heat Flash Sale at Graffitti (729 Duval St.). V.I.P. passholders get 25 percent off everything in the store from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. After you’ve cleaned the shop out, tote your shiny new goods to the 11 a.m. Gay Trolley Tour (departing from the corner of Duval and Angela streets).
Saturday is always party time, but this year it looks as if the folks over at the Business Guild have gone that extra mile. After a morning of play on the water, there are some choices to be made. Check out the noon Tropical Heat Skinny Dip Party at the Island House. It’s an “EPIC” all-male pool party for men who like to play.
And no Tropical Heat weekend would be complete without the annual Tropical Heat Toga Party at the Equator Resort from 7-10 p.m. (Bonus: 100 percent of the door donations and raffle ticket sales at the 13th annual affair benefit the MARC House, a beloved local institution that provides numerous services for adults with developmental disabilities.)
As night falls, there’s the famous 801 Girls
Show upstairs in the cabaret at the 801 Bar, logically at 801 Duval St.
Show times are 9 and 11 p.m. (www.801bourbon.com). Finally, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. is what’s being touted as The Main Event of Tropical Heat: “The Big ‘O’ Exhibition” back at the Bourbon Street Pub. There will be a foam party, play areas, exotic dancers and live exhibition shows.
FOR ALL WHO SURVIVE UNTIL SUNDAY and want to do anything more than lay around basking in the weekend’s glow, there’s another full day ahead, beginning with watersports in the morning for the early-risers among you and proceeding to a special Blu Q “Sandbar Sunday Excursion” at 11 a.m. (www.bluqkeywest.com). Meanwhile, Island House hosts a “Hot Naked Sunday Pool Party” from noon to 4 p.m., whih is when the music begins for Key West’s Traditional Tea Dance at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St. (www.lateda.com).
Once Tea Dance is over, pop over to Mangoes’ Ricky Ricardo Room for the Tea Dance After Party beginning at 7 p.m. At the end of the long weekend, bask in “The Afterglow” back at Saloon One beginning at 10 p.m.
“Tropical Heat is one of the best events of the year,” says Dan Skahen, executive director of the Key West Business Guild. “It brings fun people to the island and each year it grows bigger and hotter.”
You can get a VIP Pass for $99 online at www.tropicalheatkw.com. At press time, a limited number of tickets were available for individual events.
For additional details, visit the website or call the Key West Business Guild at 305-294-4603.
BEFORE THE FLORIDA WEEKLY KEY WEST Edition was even a twinkle in the local journalistic arena, Tropical Heat weekend started out including both men and women, but with Womenfest occurring only a few weeks later, Tropical Heat transitioned to an all-male event. Still, there are events, such as the drag shows, where women are welcome. This also applies to the Gay Key West Trolley Tour on Saturday afternoon.
Whether you’re here for a little history or just the “heat,” Tropical Heat promises to be a steamy weekend no matter what the thermostat reads. ¦