RALEIGH — A bill filed in the House of the North Carolina General Assembly wants to tighten up laws pertaining to adult entertainment.
House Bill 673, Clarifying regulations on Adult Entertainment, was filed on April 19 by Reps. Jeff Zenger (R-Forsyth). Mark Pless (R-Haywood), Donnie Loftis (R-Gaston), and Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth).
The bill would place restrictions on certain adult live entertainment defined in the bill as performances by “topless dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, or male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration.”
The bill would make it unlawful to hold such a live performance in the presence of an individual under the age of 18 and persons engaging in such act would be guilty of a Class 15 A1 misdemeanor for the first offense. Any additional offenses by the same person or persons would be guilty of a Class I felony.
The inclusion of “male or female impersonators” could apply to drag shows, which have become more prevalent and have included small children and those under the age of 18 in many instances.
One recent example occurred in Zenger’s district of Forsyth County near the end of March when a drag queen straddled a girl during a performance held at Forsyth Technical Community College’s Pride Fest.
Video of the incident posted on social media by @libsoftiktok quickly went viral. The video showed the drag queen and a young girl seated in a chair. The drag queen was sitting on the girl’s lap and wrapped their legs around her in a lap-dance-type move.
According to FOX News, students as young as 14 had been invited to attend the event. Paula Dibley, the school’s chief officer of student success, told FOX that “Parents of children under 18 were not notified of this event in advance.”
“Pride Fest is produced by the Pride Club, which is a student-led organization,” Dibley told FOX News. “All events on campus are entirely voluntary.”
Dibley also said the community college has “been in close contact with our early college school leadership and are talking with both leaders and parents about how we can revise campus policies and procedures regarding early and middle college students’ attendance at campus events.”
Last July, a “family friendly” drag performance by the “House of Coxx” occurred at the Apex Pride Festival in Apex, a wealthy Wake County suburb. As documented in video clips released on Twitter by independent journalist Stephen Horn, the performers also engaged in sexual jokes meant for adults despite children present in the crowd.
Documentation accompanying past House of Coxx shows apparently states performances should have an “18+ advisory” on them, however, no such label was placed on the Apex event.
On May 1, the Senate unanimously passed a similar measure by a vote of 48-0.
Senate Bill 579, titled “Prevent Harm to Children,” raises the penalty for disseminating obscenity from a Class I (3-12 months) to a Class H (4-25 months) felony.
The passage of the bill was announced in a joint press release by Sens. Buck Newton (R-Wilson), Danny Earl Britt, Jr. (R-Robeson), and Warren Daniel (R-Burke).
According to the press release, the bill does not change the definition of obscenity under North Carolina law which has been in place since 1974.
“This is a simple update that addresses some of the more disturbing trends we’ve seen in recent years,” said Newton in the joint release. “Our society is heading in the wrong direction and this bill says we’re not going to let children face such corruption.”
“The bill is pretty straightforward: If you don’t commit obscene acts in front of children then you have nothing to worry about,” Britt said. “The fact that there has been opposition speaks volumes to where we are as a society and why the bill is needed.”
The release notes the bill was passed after a criminal investigation began into the incident at Forsyth Tech Community College.
“What happened at Forsyth Tech was a clear indication that we’ve got to do something at the state level,” said Daniel. “This bill is an appropriate step that will help put an end to this string of vulgar behavior.”
Senate Bill 579 now heads to the House for consideration.