Lonnie Hensley & friends Clockwise, from left: Christopher Petersen as Bette Davis; Lynda Frechette with one of her 5000 Little Red Riding Hood dolls; Todd Lackey in the window of Alice's; Chris Santry wondering where this is all going; "Tonto" with a rare smile; Lonnie Hensley himself; Sharon Santry giving Lonnie some motherly love.

Key West: A Reality Trip

A most unusual reality series set in America's most unrealistic town

Lonnie Hensley restores classic cars in Key West, Florida. He is mercurial: ebullient and chatty one minute and sarcastic and withdrawn the next. Lonnie exudes a lot of confidence, yet at times can be very vulnerable. In any case, he always says whatever comes into his head, no matter who might be present. He has an ex-wife and a daughter living in Ohio. He is also gay. None of these things are very important taken individually, but the sum total of these character traits seems to be that people love to talk to Lonnie and he loves to talk to them.

Each week will be like a visit to another country (sometimes another planet). We'll see how Lonnie interacts with his employees, customers and anyone else (gay or straight) who amuses, interests or pisses him off. We'll also get to see how "the locals” live in the most eccentric city in America. And since Key West is quite a melting pot of races, creeds, sexual preferences and strange mental outlooks, we'll in a very real sense be traveling the world right within this tiny island. We'll learn more about the history of the "Conch Republic” through field trips with Lonnie, who will be sure to provide his own unique spin on doing the "color commentary.” The cast of characters would include:

Todd Lackey, Lonnie's partner: Todd is the beverage manager at Alice's on Duval, a restaurant popular with locals and tourists alike. He is quiet where Lonnie is outspoken, reserved where Lonnie is flamboyant. Chris Santry, Lonnie's business partner: He cringes at Lonnie's explicit beefcake calendar in the shop, but gets a chuckle out of telling people he is Lonnie's "partner." Sharon Santry, Chris' wife and Lonnie's surrogate mother: Sharon fusses endlessly over Lonnie and is very popular with the gay set in Key West. Lonnie affectionately calls her his "fag hag". Sharon manages a vacation rental business and also does the bookkeeping for "T-Birds in Paradise". Christopher Peterson, a female impersonator at the Crystal Room: Christopher is also very talented with a sewing machine and sometimes comes in to do upholstery work for Lonnie. Of course, he might come to the shop dressed as Liza Minnelli. There are others, as well: Tonto, a gay female bartender (NOT a barmaid, thank you) who dislikes gay men, straight men and straight women. Then we have Dr. Jon, a wild-eyed chiropractor/acupuncturist/herbalist who recently became a realtor. Let's not forget Lynda (with a "y"!) Frechette and her collection of 5,000 Little Red Riding Hood figurines and paintings. And of course, there is Allen Wimer, a car nut who makes mysterious trips to Southeast Asia and drives a "stretch” Jeep with longhorns on the hood.

Lonnie, amused Todd, bemused Chris, the "partner" Sharon, Lonnie's "Mom" Christopher...or Liza?

The Back Story: Lonnie will be restoring a 1957 Ford Thunderbird for the 2008 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Palm Beach, Florida. In the first show, Lonnie and Chris will discuss the "Big Restoration” and how to get it done in time for the Barrett-Jackson Auction. This ambitious year-long restoration would merely be a backdrop for all of the other things that make up Lonnie's everyday life in the Keys: doing smaller restoration projects for Key West locals each week, hanging out at Alice's on Duval, taking in a drag show at La Te Da or Aqua. Each week he'll visit with someone interesting he knows or simply has heard about. Each segment will let us know more about what is driving Lonnie to complete this ambitious project and how the pressure affects him. We might also begin to understand why people seem so willing to unload their deepest feelings to him.

The Key West Story: : All of the above characters and their friends would be shot against the backdrop of Key West, the quirkiest city in the USA. Each show will open and close with scenes that will let us see a small piece of the tapestry that makes Key West what it is today, a small city that is world-famous for being more than a little different:

The "conchs" whose families have been here for generations. There are very few of them left and they're not very happy about what has happened to their piece of paradise. They live in homes that are now worth more than they ever imagined, but can't reap the benefit unless they are willing to move far away.

The tourists who come here by the thousands. They swarm onto the streets from cruise ships (as many as five in one day); they descend on Key West in planes and cars and motor homes. And they all want to have the maximum amount of fun in the minimum amount of time.

The gay residents who have made Key West what it is today. They, more than any other group, have made their mark on Key West and are dedicated to the lifestyle they have helped to shape here.

The multi-million dollar homes on 1/4-acre lots next to the corner deli. Real estate has gone ballistic in Key West: a 3 bedroom home can cost well over $2,000,000; and yet the people who own these homes ride around Key West on their "Conch Cruiser" bicycles wearing nylon shorts, tank tops and flip-flops.

Fantasy Fest, a weeklong celebration of just being different. It has everything from the Pet Parade where pet owners dress like their pets to the Duval Street Promenade, where many marchers dress only in paint.

The Offshore Boat Championships, a celebration of noise and power (on the water and off). These boats have to be seen and heard to be believed. The same can be said of the people who come to see them: guys in garish leather jackets, women in spike heels and little else. The multi-million dollar boats seem to be everywhere.

The Poker Run, a celebration or noise and power (on the road and off). It might not be Bike Week in Daytona, but it's close enough. And it's for charity, so the cops try to take it easy.

Many of the smaller projects and situations that involve our group will also result in the viewer being exposed to more of local Key West life. If there is a hurricane, we'll see what happens to our cast in preparing for that situation and how they deal with the aftermath. We'll also see our group participate in the Poker Run, Fantasy Fest and New Year's Eve, when "Sushi” is lowered to Duval Street in a slipper on the stroke of midnight. Key West has an incredible history, and it's a little more off beat than the standard schoolbook stuff. After all, Key West is a city whose main commerce came from the spoils of ships wrecked off its shores. (Some would say not much has changed in a 150 years.) Lonnie would take us on a tour of some of the more interesting historic sites and would naturally provide his unique color commentary.

The Season Finale would take place at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Palm Beach, Florida when the restored car will go up for auction with no reserve. The scene at this auction is very Fellini-esque, with rednecks rubbing elbows with the Palm Beach elite. We would follow Lonnie during the weeklong event as he works the potential bidders. During this process his emotions will run from supremely confident of the car's ultimate value to utter despair that he'll lose everything; and back again.

The most dramatic moment will come when Lonnie personally drives the Thunderbird onto the podium. While one camera records all of his misgivings about things he should have done differently and how he is sure he'll lose everything, other cameras will witness the action as bidders compete for the car. We'll see Lonnie's reaction when he hears the gavel come down on the final sales price. He'll question everything he's done if the car sells for less than expected. If it sets a record price, he'll be on cloud nine and he'll let everyone know just how good he really is.

The last minutes of the season finale would be back in Key West at Alice's, where Lonnie and the gang will host a celebration or a wake and decide what to do for next year.


Christopher Santry, Executive Producer

Projects in development

Key West: A Reality Trip

300 Main Street

The Creative Spirit

A Healthier World

TFX - The Food Experience

 

 

 

 

 

George R. Lovelock, Executive Producer


Lonnie Watches Drag Race play video
Appropriate Pasties play video
Lonnie Comes Out play video
Bette Davis in Key West play video