- The Washington Times - Friday, February 3, 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has revoked the liquor license for the venue owned by the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation after The Plaza Live hosted an explicit Christmas drag queen show with children in the audience.

In a 27-page complaint complete with photos of drag queens performing at the show, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation charged the venue with knowingly exposing children to sexual activity and lewd, vulgar and indecent displays in violation of Florida law.

The revocation of the license Friday followed through on a pledge by Mr. DeSantis, who is eyed as a top GOP presidential contender in 2024, to block children from viewing drag queen performances in Florida.

“Governor DeSantis stands to protect the innocence of children, and the governor always follows through when he says he will do something,” DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin said. 

The business department had warned the venue, which hosts the Orlando Philharmonic and other shows, not to allow children into the drag queen performance or risk losing the venue’s liquor license. 

“Florida’s licensure laws provide strict penalties for licensees who allow minors to attend these drag shows at the licensed premises,” the state’s Business and Professional Regulation Secretary, Melanie S. Griffin, wrote to the venue in December.

The government complaint includes exhibits that show children present at the Dec. 28 show, which featured a performance of “Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer” and drag queens simulating masturbation and oral sex, with prosthetic female breasts and genitalia, among other graphic displays.

The venue, the complaint states, “knowingly admitted children into its licensed premises.” 

The Philharmonic had posted a sign welcoming all ages but warning some “may think the context is not appropriate for under 18.”  

The DeSantis administration is also “actively investigating” a December drag queen show attended by children at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

The Dec. 28 show at The Plaza Live in Orlando drew dueling crowds, some who backed the performance and others who protested allowing in children.

According to the Philharmonic Plaza Foundation, it was the eighth year in a row the venue hosted a drag queen Christmas show.

The Christmas show in Orlando was part of a 36-stop tour and featured regulars from the television show RuPaul’s Drag Race. 

The venue did not immediately respond to a request for a comment about the liquor license revocation. 

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

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