“Have you ever wished you had the time and place to explore alternative gender life patterns? Do you dream of meeting others like yourself in an atmosphere of friendship and acceptance?” So reads the “Greetings” page in the program for Fantasia Fair in 1981. Fantasia Fair has provided a supportive environment for individuals exploring alternative gender identities and roles since 1975. Held annually in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Fair celebrated its 37th year during the week of October 14, 2012, with workshops, social gatherings, seminars, fashion and talent shows, and other activities.
Fantasia Fair founder and activist Ariadne "Ari" Kane, has worked on behalf of the transgendered community since the early 1970s. The fair grew out of the work of Kane’s organization, the Outreach Institute of Gender Studies. The mission of the Institute was to advance the understanding of gender identity and role development and to foster education in all aspects related to the phenomenon of gender and human sexuality. Fantasia Fair plays an important role in perpetuating that mission by creating a safe space for full gender expression coupled with supportive programs and activities. The Ari Kane papers held by the Schlesinger Library include Fantasia Fair participant and program books, as well as other materials which document Kane’s professional and academic work. The library also holds the videotape collection of J. Ari Kane-DeMaios, a collection of interviews with and lectures by Kane, and footage from several years of Fantasia Fair activities.
The following clip from "Fantasia Fair: An Experience to Remember" (1980) features a few minutes of Kane addressing attendees of a workshop, as well as a moment from a Mae West impersonator in that year’s Fantasia Fair Follies, which was open to the public.