NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The show will go on for drag in Nashville. Businesses that host drag shows say for now they are making no changes to their events or performances.
Business owners and managers say they are keeping everything as is despite a new law restricting performances of “adult cabaret” or by “male or female impersonators” that appeal to a “prurient” or obscene interest.
“I have no reason to make any changes or stop anything,” said City Winery Nashville Program Director Lauren Polley. “It would be nice to maybe have a bit more clarity.”
Polley puts on all-age drag brunches at the City Winery and says she plans on keeping it that way.
However, her determination doesn’t mean the new law doesn’t worry her.
“I mean fear, for all those that I love and just, honestly, anger, confusion,” she said.
As for the Big Drag Bus that drives around the streets of downtown Nashville with open windows and drag queens as the entertainment, owner Josh Cloud was also concerned at first, but is sure nothing that is happening on his bus could be considered obscene.
“Fear for my employees,” he said. “Many of them have left their full-time careers to do this full-time. This is their passion, it’s their art form, it’s their performances.”
Cloud says he sees his bus as a very different drag from the one lawmakers say they are trying to stop from happening around children.
“Not all drag is equal. Drag on the Big Drag Bus is two standup comedians playing games, dancing with you, doing a couple performances,” he said.
Cloud admits his team did discuss darkening the windows but after some thought decided to keep cruising along.
“Just to continue to drive through the streets of Nashville, Tennessee spreading a message of happiness and love,” Cloud said, “We’ve all been to Broadway and we’ve all seen it, and a purple bus with a lot of happy people on it is the least harmful thing for [children] to see.”
Supporters and sponsors of the recently signed law have said their goal isn’t to target drag or the LGBTQ community, but rather to stop kids from being exposed to obscene shows in public or at private businesses.
“I think the concern is what’s right there in that class in that building, children that are potentially exposed to sexualized entertainment, to obscenity. We need to make sure that they’re not,” Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) said before signing the legislation into law.
Bill sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) has repeatedly emphasized that what he is sex acts being performed where kids can see.
“I don’t want to ban a theater company from doing a production of Mrs. Doubtfire in a public park,” Johnson said. “Most people have seen that movie where Robin Williams was dressing up as a woman. We don’t have an issue with that.”
But Cloud says if lawmakers end up having an issue with his business, he feels confident he is in compliance with the law.
In fact, he sees his bus as a vehicle for changing the minds of those who think drag is obscene and sexual.
The law officially goes into effect on April 1.