Arizona lawmakers introduce bills to ban or limit drag shows

Some Republican lawmakers say they want to start regulating the drag queen business in Arizona.

Three new bills were introduced that would either limit or restrict drag shows, and the drag queens and allies are getting ready for a legal showdown.

"Not only is it terribly offensive, terribly marginalizing to the drag community, which is a perfectly open, welcoming positive community of entertainers, but this is traditional performance that has gone back in society for centuries, even the days of Shakespeare and Elizabethan theater," says Jeremy Helfgot with Phoenix Pride.

Helfgot and members of the LGBTQ community are reacting to three proposed bills focusing on drag shows in Arizona and the access minors have to them.

Arizona Senator Anthony Kern proposing two of the bills – one to prevent drag shows or adult cabaret shows from happening in public where children might see, and another limiting the days and hours at which these shows can be performed, also setting more specific zoning requirements for where these shows can happen.

The third was proposed by Arizona Senator John Kavanagh and addresses where the money is coming from for these types of shows.

Kavanagh says the idea for his bill was sparked after he saw videos of sexually explicit drag shows online, not specifically in Arizona. He says this was a preemptive move so that something like this never can happen in Arizona.

"My bill doesn't ban drag shows. My bill doesn't even say parents can't take their kids to drag shows, although I would be quite disturbed to hear that a parent was doing that if it's the type of drag show that has very racy, simulated sexual acts that some of them have. But, all my bill does is say that state money, taxpayer funds can't fund a drag show if it targets children," Kavanagh said.

More information about bills: 1026, 1028, and 1030.

Richard Stevens performs as a drag queen in the Valley, better known by the stage name Barbra Seville. These three proposed bills would have a direct impact on her performances and a minor's access to them if they wanted to see a show.

"I don't understand the huge concern about protecting minors from drag, because drag is such a huge part of the entertainment culture. If you look back, you've been surrounded by drag your whole life. Bugs Bunny, Milton Berle, Tom Hanks," Stevens said.

Stevens says while he understands there are drag shows that may cross the line of what's acceptable for children, the same could be said for any art form, and those who wish to see it, and host it, should have the opportunity.

"I've been doing drag for a really long time, and I don't think I've ever gotten a check from someone who didn't want me to have it," Stevens said.