As a youngster in Baltimore, Ray Peper had a neighbor who had made costumes for the Ziegfeld Follies. One day she showed him how sequins could transform a dress. In A Chorus Line moment, Peper realized, “I can do that!” Years later, living in Key West with partner Richard Day (they now own Sarasota’s John Carl Spa & Salon), Peper started creating increasingly over-the-top costumes for that city’s famed Fantasy Fest. The tradition continues in the pair’s present home, a 2,100-square-foot apartment above the salon with an expansive view of the downtown skyline. Here Peper designs everything from an elaborate Marie Antoinette headdress complete with cakes to a Bloody Mary-drinking girlfriend for Count Dracula. Currently, Peper’s work is in an exhibition called What Makes Us Smile? at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum.