“Like many Texas parents, I was disturbed by recent images of children participating in a drag show in the Dallas area, including an image of a child placing money in the underwear of an artist,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said in a statement. “While my office does not typically comment on ongoing investigations, the recent public debate surrounding this specific entity demands a response.”
“My office had already begun the process of investigating this specific event, as well as working to determine if the establishment is liable for the Sex Business Tax (SOBF) under Chapter 102 of the Business Code. This process follows an established procedure used when an entity may be subject to SOBF.
The event at Mr. Misster, a Dallas gay bar that opened in 2019, featured drag queens dancing in front of and with children – with a sign in the background reading ‘It’s not gonna lick it all only”.
He attracted protesters at the time. Texas lawmakers have called for a repression of the operationciting a previously passed law that prohibits children from entering sexually-oriented businesses and stating their intention to file legislation banning drag shows in the presence of minors.
Last week, demand fines against the business grew into a focus on a state law that requires a $5 fee per participant for state-registered sex businesses — including of State Representative Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City).
Hegar’s statement claimed the investigation predated Slaton’s appeals and those published by Texas Scoreboard.
Children are already prohibited under the code of sex businesses. If the state finds the bar meets this definition, it will have been in violation.
In the code, a sexual enterprise is defined as “a nightclub, bar, restaurant, or similar commercial enterprise that: provides an audience of two or more people with live nude entertainment or live nude performances; and permits the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises, whether or not the consumption of alcoholic beverages is under a license or permit issued under the Alcoholic Beverage Code.
“Nude” in the code is defined as “clad in a manner that leaves uncovered or visible through less than fully opaque clothing any part of the breasts below the top of the areola of the breasts, if the person is female , or any part of the genitals or buttocks.
But due to a 2021 court decisionwhat constitutes “dressed” is opaque.
After Texas enacted sex-based commercial fees, strip clubs and other nude dancing establishments “changed their practices to require dancers to wear shorts and opaque latex over their breasts,” the report says. court opinion. The latex was most often latex spray paint.
These establishments became known as “latex clubs”.
In 2016, Comptroller Hegar issued a rule expanding the definition of “naked” to latex-covered appendages, which was later challenged in court by the Texas Entertainment Association (TEA).
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down this expansive definition, and thus the expansive fee, as being too expansive an interpretation on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment.
He also struck down the retroactive provision of the rule as a violation of due process.
The other wrinkle to the legal question about the meaning of “naked” is that drag queens are, by definition, men dressed as women — including with fake breasts. The code specifically ties “women” to “boobs”, so it’s unclear how that applies to this instance.
Slaton, who vowed to file the minor drag show ban, applauded the investigation, saying, “When it comes to protecting children from grotesque content, Texans deserve elected officials who will uphold the innocence of our children.”
“Any company that allows children to attend an event of a sexual nature should be held accountable, and I’m proud of Glenn Hegar for taking action on this. Like many Texans, I eagerly await the results of his investigation. In the meantime, I will continue to work to pass legislation to ensure that children are never again subjected to these events.
While the legislature can put all these questions to bed about the current construction of state law and what it allows, they don’t meet again until January. Until then, the comptroller is faced with conducting a regulatory inquiry with a code that both leaves a lot of room for interpretation and has been limited by a previous court ruling.
Mr Misster has not returned a request at press time.