Florida lawmakers propose a bill banning ‘adult’ performances in presence of children

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 10:21 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Lawmakers have drafted legislation to ban live adult performances in bars, restaurants, or other venues if children are present.

If the bill, HB 1423 ‘Protection of Children’ Act passes businesses that violate the proposed rules would risk losing their license to operate.

The bill’s language says that adult performances that a child might be able to see would constitute “immediate, serious danger to public health, safety, or welfare.”

The bill requires a child’s presence to be “knowingly” obvious to constitute a violation. This means that the owner of an establishment would have general knowledge that minors are present during the performance, or would know if minors were present upon “further inspection or inquiry.”

Zach Eason is a local drag queen in Tallahassee and goes by the stage name ‘Aphasia.’ Eason said drag itself is “not necessarily” typical adult entertainment.

“I can guarantee you that most drag shows are not showing nudity at all,” Eason said. “I personally have never been nude on any stage ever and I know me and my drag sisters have never been nude.”

Eason said that drag performers typically wear “six to seven” pairs of dance tights during a performance.

“I have heavy makeup on, I have usually undergarments underneath everything and I sometimes will wear a silicone breastplate to simulate that,” Eason said.

Eason said there are “family-friendly” drag shows he has performed in, adding that clubs and venues where more lewd performances would take place would not allow children or young adults not of age.

“Drag shows that are in the middle of the night have never allowed kids, and would never allow any minors,” Eason said.

The bill’s language said under no circumstance can operators of a venue claim they are ignorant of a child’s age, that a child misrepresents their age, or that a child consented to view such “live performance” as a defense against the bill’s proposed penalties.

Violations could result in an establishment having their license revoked and would allow the Florida Department of Business regulation to fine a business $5,000 for their first violation, and an additional $10,000 for each violation after that.

Violations of the bill, if passed into law, would constitute a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties would take effect immediately upon HB 1423 becoming law.

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