Senator introduces bill to regulate drag shows, limit hours of operation in Arizona

The bill would not allow drag shows between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday-Saturday and would prohibit shows on Sundays from 1 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 9:01 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Before the legislative session begins on Monday, three bills have already been introduced by Republican senators aimed at regulating and limiting drag shows in Arizona. The most controversial of the three is a bill that wants stricter regulations on adult drag shows, including limiting the hours they’re allowed to operate.

This has some questioning why these are being proposed now before tackling other issues. “I don’t think if you walked up to someone at the supermarket today and said, ‘Hey, what’s a problem that’s facing you and your family?’ I bet they would list 15-20 things before they ever got around to drag shows,” said Richard Stevens, a prominent figure in the Arizona drag community. Stevens is known as one of Phoenix area’s best-known drag queens, “Barbra Seville.” He’s referring to newly introduced Senate Bill 1030, one of three new drag-show-related bills.

Introduced by Republican Senator Anthony Kern, SB 1030 specifically calls for regulation and business licenses for drag shows and a limitation of their hours, not allowing shows between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday-Saturday and prohibiting shows on Sundays from 1 a.m. to 12 p.m. A violation would be a misdemeanor. That would impact Sunday morning drag brunches. “There are very popular drag brunches all over the Valley,” said Stevens. “Some of them get anywhere from 100-300 people who just want to come out. They want to laugh.”

While Anthony Kern did not respond to Arizona’s Family for comment on his bill, Republican Senator John Kavanagh introduced one of the other bills focused on not using state money to fund drag shows targeting kids. We asked him why he believes bills about drag shows are important right now. “I would suspect that this session suddenly there’s an interest in regulating drag shows because culturally there’s been a sudden preponderance or abundance of drag shows that are directed at children,” said Kavanagh.

This doesn’t mean these will easily become law. “It definitely has political implications,” said Bridget Sharpe, Arizona director of the Human Rights Campaign. Sharpe said there is momentum for senators Kern and Kavanagh’s proposed bills with a Republican-controlled house and senate. “If there’s enough interest from their party, I’m certain this could get a committee hearing. That would be the next step in the process,” said Sharpe.

But the reality now is we have a democratic governor, and Katie Hobbs has voiced her alliance with the LGBTQ community. “Ultimately we feel this is just a big waste of time knowing this bill will likely get vetoed,” said Sharpe. “It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Stevens.

Arizona’s Family contacted Senator Kern to interview him about the bill but did not hear back. His other bill deals with where cabaret performances are allowed. As for Senator Kavanagh, he also said he introduced more than a dozen bills, and only one dealt with drag shows.