Florida investigating Christmas drag show accused of 'exposing children to sexually explicit activity'
Officials claim 'Drag Queen Christmas' was marketed to children
The state of Florida has threatened to revoke licenses of venues hosting a Christmas-themed drag show alleged to involve simulated sexual activity and the "sexualization of children's stories" if they allow minors to attend the events.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) sent letters to venue operators at the James L. Knight Center in Miami and the Plaza Live in Orlando, warning that officials will take "any and all actions available" if minors are allowed to attend "A Drag Queen Christmas" events.
The James L. Knight Center hosted the show Tuesday and Plaza Lived hosted the show Wednesday.
In her letter to Plaza Live, DBPR Secretary Melanie Griffin said the agency "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," the letter states. "Sexually explicit drag show performances constitute public nuisances, lewd activity, and disorderly conduct when minors are in attendance."
The letters follow an announcement this week from Gov. Ron DeSantis that DBPR launched an investigation after receiving "multiple complaints about a sexually explicit performance marketed to children held in Fort Lauderdale."
In a statement posted Tuesday on Twitter, DeSantis' spokesperson Bryan Griffin said: "Exposing children to sexually explicit activity is a crime in Florida, and such action violates the Department's licensing standards for operating a business and holding a liquor license."
Earlier this year, NBC News reported DeSantis had floated the idea of possibly using child protective services to investigate parents who take their children to drag shows.
"Drag Queen Christmas," which is on a national tour in 36 cities across more than a dozen states, is hosted by performers Nina West (featured on TV's "RuPaul's Drag Race") and "Trinity The Tuck," whose stage moniker refers to the practice used by men to conceal their genitals.
The show features one bit involving a man dressed as a woman with prosthetic breasts accepting tips from audience members, at least one of whom is seen spanking the performer.
At one point, the performer is heard reportedly asking a child in the audience, "Are you reaching for my [breasts]? Are you hungry?"
Another sketch, "Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer," showed male actors dancing sexually while sexually suggestive videos played in the background during a children's story about Santa.
In one video captured by journalist Tayler Hansen, a drag performer interacts with two different children, asking them, "Are you confused yet?"
Footage from the event in Orlando Wednesday night appeared to show a small child in the audience.
Several local media reports depicted the drag show as more family-friendly. The Miami New Times describes it as "queens lip-syncing to songs like Mariah Carey's hit 'All I Want for Christmas' in holiday-themed red and green dresses and candy-cane-striped bodysuits."
The Miami Herald — which described the response by the DeSantis administration as "politically tinged" — appeared also to avoid any detailed description of the show and made no mention of the sexually suggestive content, instead pointing to a "conservative activist" who disrupted the event after objecting to the presence of children.
A report from Tampa Bay Times described the show as featuring "entertainers of all genders dressing in elaborate and sometimes provocative costumes." The report also linked the state's investigation to Republicans and "conservative activists on social media."
"The investigations come as Republicans across the country increasingly criticize drag performances, which involve entertainers of all genders dressing in elaborate and sometimes provocative costumes and enacting choreographed routines that feature songs from popular artists," wrote Times reporters Ana Ceballos and Kirby Wilson.
The article made no mention of the event's adult content or minors being present but quoted a Broward Center spokesperson who said, "attendees were warned in a disclaimer that the show was intended for a mature audience."
The Broward Center did not respond to a request for comment Thursday from The Christian Post.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, told Fox News Thursday that the state is "going to look at [this case] very carefully and make sure we're doing our jobs."
"That's what people elected us to do," she said.
Thursday night's performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater was scheduled to be the show's final performance. The event page states, "This performance has adult themes and content. Admission is limited to patrons 18 years of age or over. Proof of age will be required."
Drag Fans, which puts on the event and is owned by Big Time Operator LLC, states on its website that events are "all ages welcome unless otherwise noted on the marketing, the ticket or the venue website in each local city."
The event's host, Nina West, whose real name is Andrew Robert Levitt, was featured in a video released in May 2021 by the Nickelodeon kid's program "Blue's Clues & You!" that featured the performer singing to the melody of "The Ants Go Marching" with modified pro-LGBT lyrics.
The video was released online days before LGBT Pride Month in June.
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com.