Ron DeSantis’ agency files complaint about Miami drag show being performed in front of kids

The administration of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has filed a formal state complaint concerning the R House in Miami, claiming that the restaurant in the Wynwood neighbourhood hosts weekend brunches during which minors are exposed to “sexually explicit drag shows”.

The bar is accused of disorderly conduct, according to the complaint, which argues that “the nature of the performances … particularly when conducted in the presence of young children, corrupts the public morals and outrages the sense of public decency”, according to The Miami Herald.

The owners of the bar said in a statement that they’re “aware of the complaint and are currently working with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, through our attorney, to rectify the situation. We are hopeful that Gov. DeSantis, a vociferous supporter and champion of Florida’s hospitality industry and small businesses, will see this as what it is, a misunderstanding, and that the matter will be resolved positively and promptly”.

The complaint was sent to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation by the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. The agency is a part of the administration run by Mr DeSantis.

The bar has been given three weeks to respond. If it’s found to have violated local rules, its liqour license could be removed.

Mr DeSantis said that this would “basically” put the establishment out of business,The Herald reported.

R House is a Latino restaurant that hosts drag shows and DJs. Its site states that it was started in 2014 by Owen Bale and his husband, chef Rocco Carulli. It’s “part restaurant and part art gallery”.

The establishment has been hosting drag shows after the couple encountered Athena Dion, a Miami drag queen, and DJ Jody McDonald. The brunches during which the shows are performed now require reservations weeks ahead following a spike in popularity.

While there’s a kids menu and no specific age requirement to attend the brunch, the site doesn’t state that the events are kid-oriented.

The complaint says that the administration learned that the drag shows began in 2017 after a social media video in which a drag queen led a young girl around the restaurant was spotted on 3 July. The filing goes on to say that investigators visited the brunch on three occasions – on 9, 17, and 23 July.

The investigators also looked through social media platforms for posts from the brunches. Screenshots are included in the complaint.

A TikTok screenshot shows a still image from a video of a brunch drag queen show

The complaint attempts to compare the shows to strip clubs while noting that children are allowed, The Herald reported.

“Having kids involved in this is wrong and it is not consistent with our law and policy in the state of Florida, and it is a disturbing trend in our society to try to sexualize these young people”, Mr DeSantis told the press in Tampa. “That is not the way you look out for our children. You protect children. You do not expose them.”

The state of Florida says in the filing that the “performances and simulated sexual activity — particularly when conducted in the presence of young children — constituted lewd activity and warrants revocation of respondent’s license”.

A Florida Supreme Court precedent states that “‘men impersonating women’ in the context of ‘suggestive and indecent’ performances constitutes a public nuisance”.

Pointing to this ruling, the state argues that the restaurant should be “declared a nuisance”.

“We want to make sure that we have a state and we have communities where kids can be kids”, Mr DeSantis added, according to The Herald.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.