DeSantis administration is investigating Broward’s ‘Drag Queen Christmas’ event

TALAHASEE — Florida’s top business regulator is investigating complaints about Fort Lauderdale’s “Drag Queen Christmas,” which, according to organizers, requires underage attendees to be accompanied by their parents and to “Adult Themes and Content” warns.

For the second time this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has scrutinized a drag queen show for allegedly exposing children to “erotic shows.” Both politically charged investigations stemmed from complaints amplified by conservative activists on social media.

The investigation comes as Republicans across the country have increasingly criticized drag shows, which often involve entertainers wearing provocative outfits and choreographed impersonations of celebrities of another gender.

DeSantis, who is widely believed to be considering a 2024 run for president, has vowed to hold to account businesses that expose children to “pornographic material,” and his office has hinted criminal charges may be brought, but none have yet been laid.

“Exposing a child to sexually explicit activity is a crime in Florida that violates the department’s licensing standards for operating a business and holding a liquor license,” DeSantis spokesman Brian Griffin said in a statement Tuesday. in a statement posted on Twitter. The statement was first shared with conservative blog The Floridian.

The investigation is being run by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which has arrest powers. But the governor’s office said the investigation into the Drag Queen Christmas incident could expand to include “potential criminal liability” by Florida law enforcement.

A spokesman for the Broward Performing Arts Center, which hosted a Christmas-themed drag event on Monday, said Wednesday the state had not yet reached out to the group.

griffin in his statement The campaign was “marketed to children”. He later noted in an email that the tour had repeatedly been advertised as open to all ages at venues across the state.

A spokesman for the Broward Center for the Performing Arts argued, in a disclaimer warning attendees that the show is intended for mature audiences.

“Admission is restricted to patrons 18 years of age or older unless accompanied by a parent,” December 22 edition The performing arts center’s website advertises the event, according to the Internet Archive.

The center appears to have amended that disclosure days before the show.A sort of December 17th edition The event page states that the event “is a show for all ages” and “may contain adult content”.

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A spokesman for the performing arts organization said ticket buyers were emailed about the show’s adult themes before the show. The cast includes former contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

in a video posted on twitter, Conservative social media activist Chris Nelson was heard yelling at the performers midway through the show because the children were there. The crowd booed him, and the performer told him he was addressing a 35-year-old in the audience, not children.

“It’s not right to go to a drag show with kids,” Nelson said as she was escorted from the event by law enforcement.

“You should arrest them because they had a baby in this matter,” he told the officers. “That’s the man you should arrest.”

As of Wednesday, Nielsen’s tweet about the video had been viewed more than 2 million times.

It could be a serious regulatory blow if the state tries to revoke the center’s liquor license. The organization holds three such licenses, according to state records. Two are licenses for performing arts organizations that serve beer, wine or liquor, and one is a broader license that allows beer, wine or liquor to be consumed on the premises.

Activities at the performing arts center are supported in large part by donations from the nonprofit Broward Foundation for the Performing Arts, according to Central website.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Commerce and Professional Regulation Melanie Griffin sent a letter to organizers of The Drag Show’s James L. Knight Center in Miami Station warning them they could lose their liquor licenses if children are allowed to attend the event. The show takes place on Tuesday nights.

The Drag Queens Christmas Tour will be held at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Thursday. According to a webpage advertising the event, the show is restricted to audiences 18 or older.However, the Dec. 20 edition of Ruth Eckerd Hall’s page promoting the event carries a similar disclaimer to the Broward tour: People under 18 are allowed if accompanied by parents.

In August, Florida business regulators targeted a daytime children’s drag show in Miami. They called the incident a public nuisance and claimed the restaurant violated a host of Florida criminal laws targeting “lewdness.”

related: ‘I would never do anything to hurt a child’: Miami bar responds to drag show complaint

The incident was investigated by the state after a video, Canadian conservative activist Lauren Chen pitches to national audienceA partially clothed drag performer is shown leading a little girl during a brunch show.

“I really want to do something about it,” Chen said in a video posted on July 3 to her YouTube channel, which has 500,000 followers.

DeSantis said the state will seek to revoke the business’s liquor license, but no action has been taken.

“The situation continues and R House ownership will continue to work through their attorneys with the City’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation to remedy the situation,” R House ownership said in a statement Wednesday.