Florida’s conservative government is rebuking Christmas threats against an Orlando performance venue and seeking to revoke its liquor license because it allowed minors to attend a bawdy drag show with their parents.
Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed an administrative complaint Friday against the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation, which operates the Plaza Live Theater in Orlando. In December, the Plaza hosted Live A Drag Queen ChristmasA touring stage show of risqué drag performances with a holiday theme.
Florida officials responded to the show in a letter to the venue, saying the show was “sexually explicit” and that “sexually explicit drag show events constitute a public nuisance, lewd activity and disorderly conduct” if children were allowed to participate. . It added that the venue could be penalized and its operating license revoked.
The event was preceded by a sign on the venue’s door that read, “While we are not restricting entry to anyone under 18, please be advised that some may feel that the content is not suitable for under 18s.” Some parents eventually decided to bring children to the show. The state agency sent a representative to the show with a camera to photograph both the crowd and the event, and the complaint includes several photos.
The complaint lists what the department sees as violations of state law, including “segments in which performers engage in sexual conduct, simulated sexual activity, and lewd, lascivious, and indecent displays.”
While that sounds very lifelike, the photos included in the complaint show that the show’s depictions were at a level of clarity equivalent to an R-rated movie.
The complaint described the performers displaying artificial female breasts and genitalia to the audience, not actual genital nudity. The complaint claims the performers exposed their buttocks, but the attached exhibit shows drag queens wearing thongs not unlike what you’d see on a Florida beach. The complaint states that the show simulated masturbation, but it was through the use of prosthetics, not actual sexual activity. One of the images shows a drag queen twirling on stage (wearing a thong) while on a screen backstage, an image is projected of a finger “piercing” a Christmas wreath. Heck, this film could arguably be classified as PG-13.
From here, the complaints move to express and enforce the constitutionally protected First Amendment. The department alleged that the show included graphic depictions of “childbirth and/or abortion” and that the show included “sexually explicit content and prurient content presented through sexualized adaptations of children’s Christmas songs.” The complaint includes a transcription of some of the lyrics to “Scrudolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer,” which begins, “You know dashers and dancers and prancers and vixens and vomit and stupids and dildos and dicks-in. . .”
State threatens a business’s liquor license over naughty Christmas carols The complaint charges six counts of violating state obscenity regulations, based on allowing the presence of children.
The state’s scant photo evidence in the complaint further substantiates the claim that the war on drag queens is a politically driven moral panic. Like any other entertainment with adult content that is inherently sexual, parents and venues are well equipped to decide for themselves whether to bring their children. This is not a role that the state should decide, and in many other cases the state does not.
Despite making a big deal about supporting parents’ rights to education, Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t think parents should have the right to decide what entertainment their children should receive.
The governor’s office issued a statement to the press that read in part: “DeSantis stands up for protecting the innocence of children, and the governor always follows through when he says he will do something.” The governor’s judgment is overriding the judgment of the parents on matters that value individual freedom and the rights of parents to decide what their children are ready to experience.