Florida authorities look to strip hotel of liquor license for drag show

The complaint against the Miami Hyatt Regency is the third attempt by the DeSantis administration to revoke a liquor license held by a venue which has hosted a drag show that was not adults-only

Andrew Feinberg
Thursday 16 March 2023 18:12 GMT
Ron DeSantis plays catch with Fox News reporter during interview

Florida’s liquor licensing authority has opened a proceeding to strip a Miami hotel of its license to sell alcoholic beverages three months after it hosted a holiday-themed drag show featuring performers from the Emmy-award winning programme RuPaul’s Drag Race but did not block any minors from attending.

In a complaint filed with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco earlier this week, the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis argued the hotel violated Florida’s public nuisances statute by hosting the show, which was accessible to minors if accompanied by an adult.

Citing a 75-year-old Florida Supreme Court case in which the court found “men impersonating women” to be a public nuisance, the department argued that the hotel, rather than the show’s promotor, allowed minors to view “simulated sexual activity, and lewd, vulgar, and indecent displays.”

“The nature of the Show’s performance, particularly when conducted in the presence of young children, corrupts the public morals and outrages the sense of public decency,” the complaint said.

In a statement reported by NBC News, the hotel’s general manager said the hotel is reviewing the complaint but noted that the facility’s liquor license remains in effect at this time.

The 27 December show, called A Drag Queen Christmas, starred Drag Race performers Trinity the Tuck and Nina West.

Writing on Instagram, Trinity the Tuck responded to the complaint: "If you are not as outraged as the rest in the community then you aren’t really an ally!"

"This is much more than a ban on drag," she wrote. "It’s a disguise to suppress the rights of trans people."

Mr DeSantis’ administration has filed two other complaints against venues that have hosted drag shows, citing the same 1947 state Supreme Court case.

One was filed last July against R House, a Miami restaurant. The other came last month against Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation, which hosted the same Christmas-themed event at the Orlando orchestra’s performance space.

"Sexually explicit content is not appropriate to display to children and doing so violates Florida law," said Bryan Griffin, a press secretary for the governor, in a statement.

Mr Griffin added that Mr DeSantis — a likely 2024 presidential candidate — “stands up for the innocence of children in the classroom and throughout Florida”.

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