Arkansas Bill Aims to Classify Drag Shows as Adult-Oriented Businesses

(AP Photo/Michael Schmelling, File)

What do you think of when you hear the words “sexually oriented business” or “adult-oriented business?” Do you think of that bookstore in the seedy part of town? A nightclub with lurid lights and a bright sign that says “Live Nude Girls”? The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum?

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Any of those guesses would be accurate. But how about drag shows? Most conservatives and probably no small number of people who don’t want their names known would agree that drag shows should be adults-only events. And the Arkansas legislature now has a bill to limit the ages of drag show attendees.

In a bicameral effort (that’s “bicarmel,” if you are KJP), Arkansas state Senator Gary Stubblefield and Representative Mary Bentley have sponsored Senate Bill 43. The bill would add “drag performance” to Arkansas’ list of adult-oriented businesses as defined by Arkansas code. Specifically, the bill states:

“Adult-oriented business” means an adult arcade, an adult bookstore or video store, an adult cabaret, an adult live entertainment establishment, an adult motion picture theater, an adult theater, a massage establishment that offers adult services, an escort agency, or a nude model studio, or a drag performance.

The bill also defined where these events can take place. Of note, the bill states that no such business can be located where a minor can view the activity or on public property. TV station KARK had a copy of the bill that defines a drag performance as the following:

“Drag performance” means a performance:

(A) In which one (1) or more performers:

 (i) Exhibits a gender identity that is different from the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other accessories that are traditionally worn by members of and are meant to exaggerate the gender identity of the performer’s opposite sex; and

(ii) Sings, lip-synchs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience of at least two (2) persons for entertainment, whether performed for payment or not; and

(B) That is intended to appeal to the prurient interest

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The bill itself does not outlaw drag performances. So someone could continue to host drag shows, brunches, poker games, shuffleboard tournaments, or whatever they want to do. Consenting adults will be free to attend or participate in these events if they please. However, the bill would keep minors out of those venues. Drag queen story hours may be a different matter since those events are not sexual in nature. But the bill would bar kids from bars and restaurants where men in thongs shake their money makers over empty mimosa glasses and the heads of third graders.

Related: The Left Hits a New Low: Down Syndrome Drag Shows

There will be those who will scream, rage, foam at the mouth, and rend their garments. To those people, I would ask, what is the benefit of sexualizing your child? Name for me, please, the benefits of taking your child to an event in which a grown, scantily-clad man is gyrating around a stage to sexually-charged music while your child gives them dollar bills. Would you take them to a traditional strip club to see exotic dancers? No, you probably wouldn’t, but you will take your child to see men do essentially the same thing, albeit with somewhat less nudity. Please name for me the benefits to your child. You can’t. Because there is no benefit to your child. You, however, get to feel smug, progressive, cutting-edge, and sexually intellectual. You get bragging rights. No one benefits but you. I’ve seen men and women go to prison for providing children with adult materials and involving them in sexual activity. So ask yourself, why is it so important that you bring your kids to these events?

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The bill has been referred to the City, County & Local Affairs Committee.

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