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Florida investigates Christmas-themed drag show accused of advertising to children

While the show appeared to have welcomed all ages at other stops across the country, the ticketing site warned single minors weren't allowed unless with a parent.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida officials are investigating a traveling Christmas-themed drag show the state claims was advertised to children despite warnings on the ticketing site that the event contained adult themes and single minors weren't allowed.

Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis, tweeted Tuesday that "A Drag Queen Christmas" held Dec. 26 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is under active investigation.

The show, hosted by "RuPaul's Drag Race" alumna Nina West and others, contains performances and comedy routines that are described as adult in nature.

"Admission is limited to patrons 18 years of age or over, unless accompanied by a parent," reads a warning on the Fort Lauderdale event page. The Miami New Times reports the show contains off-color bits like "T*** in a Box" and "Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer." 

A protester interrupted Monday's show, repeating that "it is not right" for children to be in attendance before being told to leave by police, the Times reported. 

Griffin says the state will "take action" against those who expose sexually explicit activity to children, appearing to refer to the state's law of "exposing minors to harmful" shows and other material.

Details for the last stop of "A Drag Queen Christmas" on Dec. 29 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater show that "admission is limited to patrons 18 years of age or over. Proof of age will be required." Event pages on Facebook for other shows across the country appear to warn of adult content, advertise the event as an "all-ages show" or make no mention of age restrictions.

An archived event page for the Fort Lauderdale show in mid-December indicated an "all-ages" show while warning of adult content before being updated with an age restriction.

"The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is aware of multiple complaints about a sexually explicit performance marketed to children held in Fort Lauderdale on December 26," Griffin tweeted, in part. "The Department is actively investigating this matter, including video footage and photographs from the event. DBPR will, like in other cases, take action.

"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.

"The Department will share any collected evidence with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for potential criminal liability."

10 Tampa Bay has reached out to organizers of the event for comment.

Earlier this year, DeSantis said he asked his staff to consider a proposal from a failed Congressional candidate and former Republican state lawmaker who wanted to make it a felony to take a child to a drag show. 

The consideration followed controversy at a Dallas bar that its promoters called a family-friendly "Drag the Kids to Pride" event. Videos of the Texas show showed drag performers dancing down an aisle and, at times, accepting dollar bill tips from children.  

"We have laws against child endangerment," said DeSantis answering a reporter's question in June during a news conference in Fort Myers Beach.

The governor's response was to a question about state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont, calling for an "emergency" special session of the Florida Legislature to consider his proposal to terminate the parental rights of an adult and charge them with a felony if a child is brought to a drag show.

The lawmaker's then-campaign for Congress said the bill would be drafted later that month. No such bill was filed or sponsored by Sabatini, a search on the Florida House of Representatives site shows.

In July, a popular Miami restaurant’s liquor license was on the line following a complaint filed by DeSantis' administration over kids attending drag shows at the venue.

The restaurant, identified in the complaint as the R House Wynwood, was under investigation by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation following a complaint filed by the state alleging the restaurant is exposing children to “sexually explicit drag shows.”

The status of the complaint was not immediately clear, however, the establishment advertises Saturday and Sunday drag brunches on its website.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information showing the Fort Lauderdale show event page featuring an "all-ages" show with an adult warning.

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