YORKVILLE – Members of the Yorkville City Council are considering changes to the entertainment ordinance that affects drag shows.
They don’t know exactly what those changes would be, but they clearly do not intend to attempt banning the shows outright.
Aldermen on the council’s Administration Committee discussed the issue March 15.
“We have to allow for freedom of expression but it has to be controlled to a certain extent,” 4th Ward Alderman Seaver Tarulis said.
“There has to be some limits where it’s allowable but we have to protect the kids,” 2nd Ward Alderman Craig Soling said.
3rd Ward Alderman Chris Funkhouser, the committee chairman, asked his colleagues to identify what elements of the ordinance should be updated and was met with silence.
Funkhouser said the issue will be an agenda item at a future Administration Committee meeting. Afterward, Funkhouser said some of the language in the ordinance is in conflict with itself and that many of the definitions, zoning and enforcement issues are unclear.
Soling said drag shows should not be “sexually charged,” adding that business owners who put on the shows should be held accountable.
“We need to update the ordinance and find a happy medium,” Soling said. “We need to be respectful of the LGBTQ community.”
Soling said that when he encounters members of the public, sentiment appears to favor leaving the drag shows alone. “For the most part they say let it be.”
Drag shows in Yorkville became an issue last year after PINZ Entertainment Center, a bowling alley, and Southbank BBQ, a downtown restaurant, began staging the shows.
Molly Krempski of unincorporated Yorkville began a campaign against the shows, starting with a demonstration outside PINZ on Aug. 21, 2022. Since then, Krempski has attended virtually every Yorkville City Council meeting, charging Mayor John Purcell with failing to enforce the entertainment ordinance.
Krempski was in attendance at the committee meeting but did not address the committee.
At issue is language in the ordinance which prohibits “male/female impersonation.”
Soling suggested that this language should be eliminated from the ordinance, calling it antiquated. However, he also suggested that the drag shows should not take place during bowling events, in order to ensure that young people do not see the drag performers.
At PINZ, the drag shows took place at noon on a Sunday in a barroom separate from the bowling alley, with admission limited to those 21 and older.