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Florida agency warns venue over Drag Queen show

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The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has warned a Clearwater theater that hosting a holiday show featuring drag performers has put its license to operate in Florida at risk.

In December, the Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc. theater venue hosted a performance of “A Drag Queen Christmas” produced by Big Time Operator, LLC d/b/a Drag Fans that featured performers in drag and was billed as a production appropriate for minors and young children.

In a Dec. 29 letter to the administration of Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc., Melanie S. Griffin, secretary of Business and Professional Regulation, wrote that the production depicts scenes of a sexual nature which put young viewers at risk. A copy of the letter was hand carried to Big Time Operator, LLC.

”The Department has reason to believe that this drag show is of a sexual nature, involving the exposure or exhibition of sexual organs, simulated sexual activity, and/or the sexualization of children’s stories. The Department has also become aware that drag shows by Drag Fans have been marketed to and attended by minors, including young children,” Griffin wrote in the letter. “Sexually explicit drag show performances constitute public nuisances, lewd activity, and disorderly conduct when minors are in attendance.”

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The letter went on to list penalties for violating Florida’s business licensure laws, including loss of license.
Currently, venue administrators limit audience admissions to the performance to those aged 18 or older. In addition, they require prospective audience members to produce proof of age before they may be admitted to the show.

Griffin’s letter advised the theater to enforce that policy strictly.
“If you allow children to attend the Drag Fans drag show at your facility, you are putting your license in jeopardy, ‘’ Griffin wrote.

No one from Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc or Big Time Operator, LLC., was available to comment on the letter. No one from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office was available to comment on the matter.

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