From its inception in 1975, Fantasia Fair has been featured in magazines, newsletters and newspapers, and on video. Here are a few of many pieces published. Some pieces in the popular press, you will notice, objectify us, and descriptive terminology is dated in early articles from within the trans community.
We’re sure we’re missing many articles about the Fair, so if you have one or know of one that isn’t featured here, please let us know!
Fantasia Fair Wikipedia Page
Hey, don’t take our word for it! Here’s the Fair’s Wikipedia page.
Female Impersonator News (Late 1975 or Early 1976)
(n.d., but late 1975 or 1976). A week in TV fantasyland. Female Impersonator News, 9, cover, pp. 6-7.
(Pictured, a very young Andrea Susan at right.)
“Fifty transvestites and transsexuals converged upon Provincetown, Massachusetts for the first national TV convention, the Fantasia TV Fair.”
“I can only hope that ten years from now, after all the anti-drag ordinances have been abolished by pressure from the TV community, and we no longer fear being “found out,” that we will be able to look back at the Fantasia Fair of 1975 as the impetus for the community to walk out of the shadows of misunderstanding and into the warm sunlight of liberation.”
Drag Magazine (1977)
Fantasy Fair. (1977). Drag Magazine, V. 7, No. 24, pp. 37-39.
“Did you ever entertain the desire to live and learn about the crossdressing experience? Or go out free from the paranoia of being “read” as a man, or discovered? If you attended Fantasia Fair, then your dreams had a good chance of becoming a reality.”
“By sharing ideas, attitudes, and experiences, Fantasia Fair made participants aware that each could grow in dignity and achieve an acceptable femme lifestyle. It demonstrated, as best it could, that indeed a transvestite could be free from fear and guilt.”
Mano, D. Keith. (1980, November). It’s no fun being a girl. Playboy, 27(11), pp. 167, 170, 238, 240-242, 247-248, 250. Illustration by Skip Williamson. We are seeking permission to reprint Mano’s article.
“Gladys Talbot, across the room, is warming my left tit in her hands.The skin-pink silicone form trembles with absolute lack of desire: virginal and very detached. Gladys will lend me some body heat. She presses, palm over palm, as you would pack a B-cup-size snowball. She has my boob and the charming, kindly old bandit is gonna milk me but good. Me, Deirdre.”
“Much Southern Comfort in one hand, much aerosol Neet in the other, I sat on my motel-room couch and mowed down my leg hair (plus some carpet shag). Then, with white jodhpurs of hair-munching grunge, I went to shower off.
“And faster than you can Morse-code M-A-L-D, my leg hair turned to crummy black soot: gone like doodling on a Magic Slate. I felt myself up down there. Hello, who is this chick? The one with the soft, glossy, pink calves? Be understanding: Last I saw my legs was 1954.”
“Between October 12 and October 21, 1979, at Fantasia Fair en femme there are:
- A stockbroker
- A banker
- Three or four lawyeers
- A sheriff
- A police chief
- A good half-dozen corporate executives
- A political-campaign manager
- A gynecologist
- Several officials in local, state, and foreign government
- One engineer (who had been a Royal Navy destroyer commander”
“Madeline, a first -time Fantasia Fairer from Texas–described her spouse’s apprehensive and rather poignant send-off. She was crying at the Dallas airport, She said, ‘Please, I want my man to come back.’ You can sympathize; 20 years of marriage and all at once hier husband is a spouse.”
Cape Cod Times (1991)
Kahn, Hamilton. (1991, October 27). Crossdressers conclude annual gathering in Provincetown. Cape Cod Times, A3.
“Dressing in costume and taking on a new persona is a pleasure enjoyed by most people only once a year. But for participants in the annual Fantasia Fair, it is a way of life.”
“During a session entitle Patriarchy and the Girl Inside, psychologist and author Richard Docter of California State University at Northridge outlined his views that gender roles are largely the product of social conditioning rather than genetic disposition. ‘There is a good deal of mythology that there is enormous difference between men and women at birth,’ Docter said, ‘but if you take physical differences and reproduction out of the picture, there is very little difference.'”
Cape Cod Times (1999)
Carroll, Felix. (1999, October 21). Out of the closet with style: Cross-dressers find community, safety at Fantasia Fair. Cape Cod Times, B3-B4. (Miqqi Alicia Gilbert pictured).
“This is a week in Provincetown filled with a lot of laughs, a lot of learning, and a lot of leg.”
“But for many there have been huge social, practical, and psychological hurdles to overcome in order to get here.”
“Lisa Mitchell and her husband had been married a little more than a year when she arrived from work early one afternoon seven years ago and her world suddenly changed.”
“You think you really know someone,” Lisa said, referring to the day when she discovered Elise. “Now, sometimes I think I accept it more than Elise does.”
“I don’t deny at times it can be quite difficult,” said Susan, a wife of a cross-dresser, also with her husband. Susan asked that her last name not be printed. “I had three choices,” she said. “I leave him; I accept it and have nothing to do with it; or I could take part in it and share this part of his life.”
“I started to hear more and more about discrimination and hate crimes,” Susan said, “and that really disturbed me, and I started to realize it was far more important to support the rights of cross-dressers to express themselves and be who they are than to ignore it all.”
Life in Provincetown Magazine (2002)
Tim. 2002, Oct. 17. Ari/Ariadne Kane talks with Tim. Life in Provincetown Magazine, 1(27), cover, 8-9, 20.
“What’s more, The Boston Globe came down and did a feature story on this thing. This gave us publicity, so we were no longer just turnip truck people. We were on the map.”
“There’s a lot of things that have emerged in the last decade about presentation modes, about gender in general and about [sexual] orientation. What is emerging at this point in time is that more and more individuals will be expressing diverse gender forms over the course of their lifetime.”
“What has emerged in the last Fairs is a series of seminars that gives us updates about what is going on with men and women in our culture and younger people and what are the options for adolescents these days?”
Provincetown Magazine (2003)
Thomas, Brenner.2003, October 23-November. In the spotlight: Dallas Denny. Transformations: An interview with one of the transgender community’s most outspoken members. Provincetown Magazine, 26(27), cover, pp. 55-59.
“One of the things that became manifest in the 90’s was that transgender people realized they didn’t have to ‘change sex,’ they didn’t have to have surgery, what whatever was their best fit was okay. There were people who felt you weren’t a proper transsexual unless you had genital surgery. And there are transsexuals who absolutely need that to feel whole or at one with their bodies, including me.”
“I would point out that being gay or lesbian is violating gender norms, just as is cross-dressing. There’s an expectation of your gendered behavior, and if you’re with someone of the same sex, you’re violating a gender norm. That’s what makes people upset. When many gay and lesbian people get bashed, it’s not because of their sexual orientation, but because their gendered presentations somehow sets off their attackers.”
Life in Provincetown Magazine (2003)
Tim. (2003, October 23). Jennifer Kain is an everyday woman. Life in Provincetown, cover, 8-10, 14.
Jennifer: “Fantasia Fair gives people an opportunity to come here to explore their personal life and feelings and put everything in perspective and get a better grip on who they are and where they’re going.”
Tim: “Sure, but you have to begin your steps somewhere, and I can’t think of a safer place in which to do that than Provincetown.”
Jennifer: That’s what I love about Fantasia Fair.”
Provincetown Banner (2017)
Wood, Anne. (2017, October 26). Fantasia Fair isn’t just for cross-dressers anymore. Provincetown Banner, pp. A1, A21
“Some of the people are indeed beginning their exploration,’ Denny says. ‘Sometimes this is the first place they’ve come out the door [dressed as women, and they are] scared to death.’
“Indeed, the Fantasia Fair participants’ guide includes a video and photo policy, which tells attendees that they can get No Photo buttons from the Fair office if they don’t want to have their images captured. ‘Media representatives must obtain written releases from any participant photographed or interviewed,’ the booklet reads.
“It makes sense: people come from all over the country to attend the event, and many fear losing their jobs, their families — their entire lives — if their desire to dress like women is made public.”
“The programming is extensive and its expert speakers, of which Denny is one, are top-notch. It’s among the best of any group that comes to Provincetown. Workshops that were offered included: “Coming Out … The Good, The Bad and the Indifferent,” with psychologist Gennifer Herley; “How to Cope with the Fear of Abandonment,” with Mónica Pérèz, who also runs “Parenting the Transgender Child”; and “It Ain’t Me Babe — or Maybe It Is,” a workshop for the non-transgender member of the relationship, with Carole MacKenzie. There are also fun events such as a talent show, follies and more.
“’Everyone gets to have their princess moment, whether they’re male to female or female to male,’ Denny says.”
Miller, Niela, Counseling in Genderland (1996)
Miller, Niela. (1996). Counseling in genderland. Different Path Press.
Niela is a licensed mental health counselor who served as a professional at the Fair for many years. This year she returns to give a retrospective of her career and involvement with Fantasia Fair.
Niela’s 1996 Counseling in Genderland is a practical guide for mental health practitioners, transpeople, and laymen.
Leslie Fabian, My Husband is a Woman Now (2014)
Fabian, Leslie. (2014). My husband is a woman now: A shared journey of transition and love. Virtualbookworm.com.
The Fabians are long-time attendees of Fantasia Fair. Leslie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
My Husband’s a Woman Now is the personal, heartfelt tale of a wife supporting her mate’s transition to female, while grieving the loss of her male partner. It’s a love story, abounding with tales of the Fabians’ challenges, changes, and ultimate triumph over the radical upheaval of their lives…by their own choice.
“Imagine having a secret about yourself, one so huge and secret that you’ve hated it for as long as you can remember. So far you’ve kept it at bay and have done everything right throughout your life; dressed acceptably, played sports, excelled in school, married your high school sweetheart. You’ve had children, become successful in your field–far surpassing average–and mastered a variety of sills and talents.
“For all intents and purposes, your life appears ideal. But year after year, regardless of accomplishments and appearances, happiness eludes you. Eventually you begin to know for certain: what stands in the way of satisfaction and joy is that dreadful secret which demands to be revealed, insisting to be acknowledges in some as-yet unknown way.”
Stana, Fantasia Fair Diaries (2015)
Stana. (2015, August 28). Fantasia Fair diaries. CreateSpace.
Long-time Fantasia Fair attendee Stana writes a book about her experiences!
“Unlike most other transgender conferences which typically keep its attendees cooped up in a high-rise and high-priced hotel, Fantasia Fair is unique. Instead of being stuck in a hotel for a long weekend, you have the run of the town for over a week! According to the Fantasia Fair website, ‘its takes place in beautiful Provincetown–a wonderfully accepting community where anyone can mingle in the streets in friendship, safety, and acceptance. Yes, you really are welcome and free in all of Provincetown, and yes, you will make friends at Fantasia Fair that you will keep forever.'”
“Next I attended a practice session for the fashion show, Yes, I am modeling in the annual Fantasia Fair Fashion Show before an audience of civilians and trans-people alike, and it should be the thrill of a lifetime (up to now)…. The first step from the stage to the catwalk is a doozy, so I plan to take it slow in my killer heels!”
Jeanette de Beauvoir, Murder at Fantasia Fair (2017)
De Beauvoir, Jeannette. (2017, 27 September). Murder at Fantasia Fair. HomePort Press.
Wedding coordinator Sydney Riley never thought she’d get caught up in a murder investigation, but she became an amateur sleuth when her boss was killed during Bear Week. Now she’s back, this time as the Race Point Inn hosts Provincetown’s venerable transgender event, Fantasia Fair… and murder is once again an uninvited guest!
“I took a swig of the drink and this time didn’t spit any out. ‘Listen, Glenn, he didn’t do this.’
“’Of course he didn’t.’
“’And besides…’ Okay, Sherlock, think, don’t just react. ‘What possible motive could he have? Seriously? Mike doesn’t even know any of the Fair people, he told me so. Except for Rachel, of course. But besides that. You don’t go around killing people you don’t know.’
“’Of course not,’ said Glenn. ‘Two more,’ he said to Maryellen.
“’I don’t need another drink,’ I said.
“’Of course you do. Two more, Maryellen.'”
Jan Brown (2009)
Brown, Jan. Fantasia Fair 2009: A trip report. Previously unpublished.
“I had no idea what to expect from Fantasia Fair. I’d never been to a transgender conference before. Going in, I thought the main benefit would be the simple act of living as a woman for a week…. The experience was a sort of time bomb. At the time it seemed very laid back, more like a vacation than a conference, but unexpectedly, it’s had a growing impact on me in the weeks since I came back. For the first time, presenting female in public is fulfilling instead of an ordeal, a major benchmark for me, since I plan to transition permanently.”
Jan is a prolific writer on trans issues and a long-time attendee and organizer of Fantasia Fair. She has posted a number of other reviews and articles about the Fair on TG Forum.
TG Forum (2011)
Dotson, Hebe. (2011, November 7). Fantasia Fair 2011: Epiphany #2. TG Forum.
Hebe’s dressed for the first time as a woman– at 80 years of age! At Fantasia Fair!
“When the evening was over, I was still 80, but I had definitely been out in the streets of Provincetown dressed as a woman. It was a wonderful feeling to have finally done what I’d always wanted to do. As I looked at the happy face in my hotel room’s mirror, I had a genuine epiphany: ‘I could live like this for the rest of my life,’ I said to myself.
“Well, I got to live like that for the next six days, and then I had to go home. I’d met many new friends, spent an evening as an international model, and conducted a workshop on transgender fiction. It was hard to return to my home — but I did, after reserving my hotel room and a place in the 2011 edition of Fantasia Fair.”
Rainbow Times (2014)
Lefton, Clara. (2014, November 6). Fantasia Fair hosts 40th Annual Conference in Provincetown, Mass. Rainbow Times. Pictured: Jamison Green and Mariette Pathy Allen. Photo by Dan McKeon.
“To continue to foster this relationship with the town itself, Fantasia Fair makes a point of giving back to the community every year. The Fair started this tradition on its 25th anniversary in 1999. In the past the board has bought the fire department a defibrillator, raised money toward a new Segway scooter for the local police department, and was even the largest private donor in the building fund for the town’s new library.
“The 2014 Fantasia Fair raised $3000 for Helping Out Women, a local nonprofit with a mission statement for ‘women with chronic, life-threatening, and/or disabling illness.’ All of the money for this donation was raised at the Fantasia Fair Follies, an annual cabaret event featuring a variety of performers, singers, and musicians.”
TG Forum (2014)
Rivera, Sirena. (2014, November 10). Sirena attends the Fair– Fantasia Fair 2014. TG Forum.
“I call Fantasia Fair my New England Brigadoon. Yes, it comes around more frequently and lasts longer than the fabled village in the Broadway musical, but you get the gist. Fantasia Fair has a special magic for me. While I am able to present femme at home, not even a friendly place like New Hope has that level of protection and acceptance that Provincetown offers. I’m also very biased, as I lived in New England for a period of time and came to fall in love with it. I would love to move back there someday and not just because it would be easier to get to the Cape or to Martha’s Vineyard.
One is truly welcome, accepted, and liberated at Fantasia Fair, and while, admittedly, it is on the more costly side compared to other transgender events, one needs to take into account the fact that there is a wide range of activities, as well as the fact that most meals are covered. And the food is wonderful, which is consistent with the whole experience. Else and I have met kindred souls and friends for life, we get some time to ourselves, as well as access to a pretty neat little town. And if the cost is too much, there are opportunities to apply for scholarships. There are also options to attend for half a week, if a week is simply too much.”
Roberts, Monica. (2015, 20 October). 2015 Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award acceptance speech. TransGriot.
“Thanks also to the Fantasia Fair team that has worked hard to not only make it possible for me to be standing in front of you delivering this speech, but is working daily to make this week a special and enjoyable one for all of you here in attendance here in Provincetown today and for the rest of the 41st edition of this conference.
“I am pleased and proud to be standing before you making history this afternoon as the first African-American transperson to be honored by Fantasia Fair with the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award. I enthusiastically accept it on behalf of myself and the trans ancestors who preceded me in proudly living our trans lives and fighting for our humanity and freedom.”
“We also need as a trans community to be proactive in tackling systemic race issues in our ranks and doing the hard work to dismantle racism, sexism, homophobia and internalized transphobia in our ranks. Some of our trans brothers need to stop being as misogynistic as their cis masculine counterparts and be the quality men of trans experience we know they can be.
And as Precious Davis and Myles Brady have been role modeling lately, trans men and trans women loving each other is a powerful and revolutionary act.”
Cape Cod Today (2017)
Fantasia Fair donations to support P-Town history. (2017, 25 July). Cape Cod Today: Cape Cod Community News.
“We really appreciate how the town welcomes us each year so we try to say thank you whenever we can. One way we show our appreciation is by helping various Provincetown charity and civic organizations. Over the years, we have raised over $60,000 for organizations that serve the people of Provincetown and Cape Cod. We have made contributions to the town library, the local police department, an AIDS support group, a woman’s shelter, the local soup kitchen, a senior services group, a summer camp for LGBT youth, and we helped buy the fire department a life-saving defibrillator. The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum is a natural fit for our efforts.”
FF Daddy: Miqqi, Muffy, and Jamison at the FanFair Follies
Fantasia Fair 2013: The Movie
Works in Progress (2013)
Audiopedia: Fantasia Fair (2017)
This website houses a large collection of digital copies of transgender material dating back to 1977. It can be found here. Be aware the page is under construction. There’s a lot of material to upload. We will be adding the oldest material first and working toward the present.
At least six libraries and archives house significant collections of Fantasia Fair material:
- Joseph A. Labadie Collection, University of Michigan Library System, Ann Arbor, MI
- Transgender Archives, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
- Transgender Digital Archive
- Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, Provincetown, MA
- Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Cambridge, MA
- The Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University Library, Durham, NC
Joseph A. Labadie Collection
The Joseph A. Labadie Collection is part of the University of Michigan Library System. Located in Ann Arbor, it documents the history of social protest movements and marginalized political communities from the 19th century to the present.
In 2000, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Gender Educational & Advocacy (formerly American Educational Gender Information Service) donated its enormous National Transgender Library & Archive to the Joseph A. Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan Library System, Ann Arbor, MI. The NTL&A materials were quickly transferred from Atlanta to Ann Arbor and cataloged and have been available to students, faculty, researchers, and the general public since 2002. Much additional material has been added since the original donation, including many items from the personal collection of Alison Laing and materials donated by Fantasia Fair. Anyone can browse the holdings, which include a wide range of Fantasia Fair materials; there is no need to create an account.
Transgender Archives at University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
In 2000 the nonprofit Rikki Swin Institute purchased a wide range of transgender-related materials from the International Foundation for Gender Education, Virginia Prince, Ariadne Kane, and the of estate of the late Betty Ann Lind; the Kane and Lind materials are rich in Fantasia Fair items. They were housed for a time in a building in downtown Chicago and eventually donated to the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, where they are available for examination by students, faculty, researchers, and the general public. The Transgender Archives continues to acquire trans-related material, including items from the personal collection of Alison Laing and materials donated by Fantasia Fair.
After creating an account, anyone can browse the holdings, which include a wide range of Fantasia Fair materials.
Digital Transgender Archive
The idea for the Digital Transgender Archive was born in 2008 in discussions between K.J. Rawson and Nick Matte and made possible by the support of the College of the Holy Cross Digital Commonwealth and two grants awarded to K.J. by The American Council of Learned Societies. From its inception in 2015, the DTA has grown rapidly. It now contains a wide range of digitized historic trans material, including items from the NTL&A in Ann Arbor and the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria.
Just type Fantasia Fair into the search box and watch the rich variety of material that pops up!
Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum
The Provincetown Museum preserves in its rich holdings the long and fascinating history of Fantasia Fair’s host city–including the history of Fantasia Fair.
In 2016, Fantasia Fair provided the PMPM with a set of Participant’s Guides and other Fair material dating from 1978. We felt it was important to preserve our history locally as well as internationally.
The PMPM is open from 9 am until 5 pm daily.
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
The Radcliffe Institute is Harvard University’s institute for advanced study. It holds papers of Ari Kane-DeMaois, including early organizational records of Fantasia Fair and videos shot at Fantasia Fair over many years. Holdings can be viewed online.
Other materials from Kane are held by the Transgender Archive.
Archive of Documentary Arts
Much of photographer Mariette Pathy Allen’s photographs and many of her papers are archived at Duke University’s Archive of Documentary Arts. Mariette attended many trans conference, including Fantasia Fair, for many years, and took thousands of photographs, many of which found their way into her books Transformations, The Gender Frontier, and Trans-Cuba.
Many other libraries house smaller amount of Fair materials.