ORLANDO, Fla. — A Christmas-themed drag show was held Wednesday in Orlando, but the state and Gov. Ron DeSantis are putting the venue on notice.

It was the third night "A Drag Queen Christmas" is performed in Florida. Their first show was in Ft. Lauderdale where shortly after DeSantis announced an investigation into the show and the venues that allowed minors to see it. Why? For allegedly exposing minors to sexually explicit content.

What You Need To Know

  • As ‘A Drag Queen Christmas’ takes the stage, the venue, ‘The Plaza Live’ received a notice from DBPR that if minors are allowed to attend the drag show that the department will take any and all actions to ensure the venue is no longer a threat to minors

  • That means they could potentially lose their liquor license

  • Florida Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani says it should be up to the parents

As "A Drag Queen Christmas" takes the stage, the venue, "The Plaza Live" received a notice from Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, also known as DBPR that if minors are allowed to attend the drag show that the department will take any and all actions to ensure the venue is no longer a threat to minors.

“The actions by DBPR targeting drag shows across the state is political performance and also intimidation. The notion of losing your liquor license is huge for any small business, especially Plaza Live,” said Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani.

Eskamani is a lifelong Central Floridian. She told Spectrum News she’s had enough of what she calls "homophobic messaging."

“It’s incredibly ironic, Gov. DeSantis continues to demonize LGBTQ+ people and performances, meanwhile if it’s hooters or if (a movie or TV show) is rated M or R you don’t see that same type of rhetoric or concern of the wellbeing of children,” said Eskamani.

This isn’t the first controversy the show has seen. Each performance of "A Drag Queen Christmas" done in Florida was met with the same letter from DBPR.

Spectrum News reached out to the department for an interview, they stated:

“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 26th. 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.

The Department frequently conducts investigations into these matters upon tips provided by the public, and we thank the public for continuing to bring attention to these incidents. Investigations of such allegations will remain a priority for the Department and, indeed, are ongoing." 

As for Rep. Eskamani she hopes the show can go on.

“It’s a parent’s choice. The Republican Party talks all about choice and all about parental rights. It’s a parent’s choice to decide about what content is appropriate vs. not,” said Rep. Eskamani.

Demonstrations Held

While the show was going on, two groups were outside, one standing in support of the show — the other — expressing their concerns.

Demonstrators say they don't mind what is actually going on, they just don't want children exposed to the content.

One person says if it was for 18 and older only, they wouldn't be protesting at all.

“These performances going on, it is pornographic stuff going on," said Joe White Shark. "It is X-rated. You wouldn’t take your child to a strip club, you wouldn’t be allowed to even get near it.”

Those on the other side of the argument say they just want these events to remain peaceful. They say the state should focus on applying their principals of parental rights across the board rather than threatening to revoke the venue's license.

"Whether it’s parental rights in regards to what school they go to, whether or not they wear a mask or get vaccinated, or if they want to go ahead and go to a drag show. That is between a parent and the kid,” said Kaity Danehy-Samitz with Women's Voices of Southwest Florida.

Orlando City Commissioner for District 4 Patty Sheehan was at Wednesday's show and says venues like the plaza have a right to free speech.

“It’s just a shame that this seems to be again this culture war stuff creating division and anger over nothing, said Commissioner Sheehan. "It’s a shame that we have to put so many police resources out here because of the threats that have happened.”

Spectrum News reached out to the venue and the performers, but bother groups were not able to comment. A flyer was posted in the doors and windows of the venue in light of the debate, stating that while the management are not restricting access to the performances that are under 18, some may think the content is not appropriate for anyone under the age.

There is another show in Clearwater Thursday night.