National News

Drag shows could soon be illegal in downtown Portland, TN

Posted 11:11 a.m. Friday

— The show may not go on for two performers in Portland, TN. The city is expected to approve an ordinance that would prohibit drag shows downtown.

Mayor Kenneth Wilber said he's heard from several residents who feel the show is not appropriate for Main Street.

Raymond Guillermo said performers wear dresses, wigs and makeup, and lip sync to popular songs.

"That's all we do. We don't know what the fuss is about," Guillermo said.

Guillermo said it was a packed house Aug. 12 at Envy Bar in Portland for Elite Production's first drag show.

"It's not just for the LGBT community. It's for straight people, it's for transgender people, it's for anybody. We want a place where everybody can come and feel like they can be themselves," Guillermo said.

If the council passes the ordinance Monday night, it will be illegal to perform a drag show in downtown Portland.

"The values of our community are reflected in the ordinance. We do not want those types of things in our normal business district, so I support it 100 percent," Wilber said.

City law prohibits adult entertainment in business districts. The ordinance revises the definition of adult entertainment to include shows that feature male or female impersonators.

Director of Development Services Andrew Pieri said it puts drag shows in the same category as strip shows.

"We are saying that those activities can occur in the city of Portland, but only in the proper zoning district," Pieri said.

Guillermo said it's unfair to lump them together.

"We don't strip down to anything. There is no nudity shown," Guillermo said.

Pieri said they can still perform in industrial-zoned districts.

"We are saying that those activities can occur in the city of Portland, but only in the proper zoning district," Pieri said.

Guillermo said that doesn't leave many options.

"There are churches everywhere. There are schools everywhere. There are residential areas everywhere. So where will it allow us to perform? It won't," Guillermo said.

Mayor Wilber said the decision to draw up the ordinance came from several concerned community members that do not want this show downtown.

A public hearing will be held on the issue Monday, Sept. 18. Those against the ordinance will be holding a rally outside City Hall right before.

Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all