In the midst of midterm exams, senior Dejah Urbanovitch is more likely to be spotted at a party in Key West than the library.
That’s not to say she isn’t working hard. Urbanovitch, known on her website as “Dancing Dejah,” is the youngest candidate to ever run for Queen of Fantasy Fest.
Fantasy Fest began in 1978 as an attempt to increase tourism in Key West during October. The campaign for king and queen marks the start of the annual street party, which Oct. 19 to 28.
The race for king and queen is a fundraiser for AIDS Help, Inc., a non-profit community-based organization which provides health care, housing, food, counseling and support for HIV-infected residents of The Florida Keys. Every dollar donated during the campaign is matched five-fold by government money and grants.
The two candidates that raise the most money will be crowned king and queen at the Royal Coronation Ball on Oct. 19.
Urbanovitch’s stepmother, who lives in Key West along with her father, encouraged her to run for queen.
“I could say I’m doing this because I have friends with HIV and I’ve lost someone to AIDS but that’s not the motive,” Urbanovitch said. “It’s really just to give back to the community in general.”
Balancing class and the campaign is difficult, said Urbanovitch, a history and chemistry major.
“I don’t sleep very much,” she said. “The other day I had to pull over and sleep in my car because I couldn’t drive home. At this point, I know I gave it my all.”
Age is not the only difference between the 22-year-old “Dancing Dejah” and the other candidates. The winner is “usually a gay guy or an affluent white lady,” said Urbanovitch, who faces competition from Mary Lou Hoover, a construction consultant from St. Louis, and Mitch Jones, “Miss Southernmostgay.com.”
Despite the obstacles, Urbanovitch said the campaign has been “the experience of a lifetime.” In addition to running for queen, Urbanovitch will also host this year’s official Fantasy Fest video.
“I’ve had so much media attention and I had no idea that would happen,” Urbanovitch said. “I hope to be really humble about it, but to me it’s a trip. I got to dance with a drag queen on stage! That was one of my life goals, along with swim in a pool of Jell-O.”
Urbanovitch has hosted over 20 fundraising events, including a pool tournament, beer pong tournament and bull-riding tournament.
She is also auctioning off her hair on her website, dd4q.com. The winner of the auction can pay to cut her hair, which she will then donate to Locks of Love, or to keep her hair long.
Her final event is a “Red Party” at Mansion on Thursday, Oct. 18. Tickets are $15 and all money from pre-sale tickets goes to AIDS Help, Inc.
If Urbanovitch does not win queen, she plans to run again next year.
“My ultimate goal was to be like look, you can make a difference no matter how old you are,” Urbanovitch said “I planned this in three weeks. If I have a whole year, they won’t know what hit them.”
For tickets to the Red Party at Mansion (21+), contact Lauren (954-303-9817) or Fiona (407-435-2164) by Oct. 17.
Blair Brettschneider may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.