Count Kari Lake is among those outraged by the recent controversy in a bid to fuel the far right.
Drag queens, that would be.
It’s downright lewd, Lake assures us, for kids to have attended drag shows.
“They kicked God out of the schools and welcomed the drag queens,” she said on Instagram on Friday Twitter. “They took down our flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They are trying to disarm the Americans and militarize our enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns and Glory.”
While we’re at it, we’re also bringing in a drag queen that Lake has known for well over two decades.
One of the Valley’s most well-known drag artists, Rick Stevens has performed as Barbra Seville in theatres, bars and parties across town for the last 25 years – and, he says, at parties held at Kari Lake’s house.
One of those parties, he says, was attended by Lake’s elementary-school-age daughter at the time.
So you can imagine Lake’s social media posts demonizing drag were a stunner.
“She’s friends with drag queens,” he told me. “She had her child in front of a drag queen. I dragged her home for her friends and family. They don’t threaten her. She would come to shows all the time. Making me a bogeyman for political gain was just too much.”
Stevens, who is supporting Democrat Katie Hobbs for governor, on Friday night posted pictures of Lake posing with him and another drag performer, as well as some of their correspondence from 2015. Similar pictures from 2012 and 2014 have been taken to social media Media published by Kari Lake.
The Lake campaign says Lake’s daughter has never attended a drag show.
“Richard’s allegations were full of lies,” she said in a statement emailed to me. “The event in question was a party at someone else’s house and the performer was there as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. It wasn’t a drag show, and the issue we’re talking about isn’t adults going to drag shows either. The problem is that activists are sexualizing young children and it needs to stop.”
Actually, a man dressing up as a woman and entertaining an audience is considered drag performance.
Drag shows are the latest front in America’s culture wars. It all started earlier this month in Texas (like so many things) with a Dallas gay bar’s “Drag the Kids to Pride” event, billed as a “family-friendly drag show.”
While conservative politicians swooned at what they called the “sexual perversion” of our children, it’s unclear what gave them the fumes. In the video clip, which went viral on social media and sparked all the outrage, the performers were clothed and the dance didn’t appear overly sexual.
There was a neon sign which was quite risqué and featured a child handing a dollar bill to one of the dancers. But tipping a dancer doesn’t seem like much different than tipping a street performer.
Regardless, Arizona Republican lawmakers jumped into immediate action, vowing to “fight by any means necessary to protect the most innocent from these horrific and troubling trends.”
Stevens is also shocked and disturbed, but for a different reason: hypocrisy.
He says he met Lake in the late 1990s when she and some of her Fox10 co-workers popped into 307 Lounge, a gay bar in downtown Phoenix that hosted (adult) drag shows starring Barbra Seville, Ms. Ebony , Pussy Le Hoot and others took place Celia Putty, among others.
“They (Lake and her staff) would come to the 307 lounge, which was about a mile or two from the train station, and they would hang out,” he said. “She came to the show quite regularly. I wouldn’t say every week, but it wasn’t uncommon.”
Stevens says he and Lake became friends — “at times I was kind of her gay persona” for interviews on LGBTQ-issues news.
Stevens says Lake invited him to her home in downtown Phoenix to perform as Marilyn Monroe at her birthday party 10 or 12 years ago and later to do a drag routine at a 2015 baby shower for another news anchor. He says he particularly remembers Lake’s young daughter at one of the performances because she wore glasses and he sympathized since he hated wearing them when he was a kid.
Drag shows can run the gamut from raunchy to G-rated, depending on the audience. Though there’s no nudity, Stevens acknowledged there can be revealing costumes, although that wouldn’t happen at a family event, he says.
“The whole idea that you have to protect kids from drag is just ridiculous because there aren’t many people who do that and there aren’t many shows that cater to families,” he said.
He believes the recent attacks on drag queens are a calculated response aimed at shaking up the right and distracting people from the real dangers posed to children.
“Everyone knows what’s going on,” he said. “People needed something else to talk about because the conversation about gun control and killing kids in schools was getting too real, so people wanted to say let’s protect kids from drag queens instead of protecting kids from gun violence.”
As for Lake’s response to the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, she will Abolition of the ammunition tax.
But oh, those dangerous drag shows.
Stevens believes Lake’s reincarnation as a warrior for the far right is an act.
“She supported Obama and now I’m here to tell you she supported drag queens and had her kid before drag kids,” he said. So someone a few votes away from power, I’m happy to do that.”
Reach Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.
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