DeSantis Looks to Revoke Liquor License for Miami Hotel That Hosted Drag Show

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The administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is seeking to strip the Hyatt Regency Miami of its liquor license after a connected venue hosted a drag show where minors were allegedly present. 

The event, A Drag Queen Christmas, took place Dec. 27 at the James L. Knight Center, a 4,500-seat theater connected to the Hyatt hotel in Downtown Miami. 

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Performers wore “sexually suggesting clothing and prosthetic female genitalia” and simulated sex acts, according to a 17-page complaint filed Tuesday by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (FDBPR). 

“The nature of the show’s performances, particularly when conducted in the presence of young children, corrupts the public morals and outrages the sense of public decency,” according to the filing, which accuses the show’s organizers of promoting the event using “Christmas-themed promotional materials that did not provide notice as to the sexually explicit nature.”

After regulators notified the venure’s operators that its liquor license could be jeopardy if minors were in attendance, it updated the show’s advertisements to include a disclaimer, recommending the event for an “audiences 18+” according to the complaint. The Knight Center’s admission policies state that children must be “accompanied by an adult.” 

Still, the FDBPR alleges operators did not do enough to prevent minors from attending, forming the basis of their complaint. 

The scuffle targets global hotel operator Hyatt and Gencom, a prominent Miami-based developer, which together operate the city-owned waterfront property through a ground lease. “We are reviewing this complaint and will address the situation directly with the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation as part of administrative review process,” Hyatt Regency Miami, Amir Blattner, said in a statement.

“The event in reference was hosted at the city-owned James L. Knight Center, which is a third-party operated venue adjacent to Hyatt Regency Miami. All programming and ticketing is managed by the third-party operator; Hyatt’s only role with respect to such events at the James L. Knight Center is to provide food and beverage concessions,” Blatnner added. The hotel’s liquor license remains active.

The FDBPR is also in the midst of an effort to revoke the liquor license at Miami venue R House after a video of a drag show with children in attendance went viral. 

The complaint over the liquor licenses comes after Gov. DeSantis, a Republican, and the Florida legislature passed a law restricting classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, which critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

In addition, at the behest of DeSantis, a likely 2024 GOP presidential candidate, the Florida legislature is also considering bills to block gender-affirming care for teens and implement a six-week abortion ban.

It’s unclear whether the complaint will affect Gencom and Hyatt’s plans for the Miami property. Last year, the joint venture scored voter approvals to tear down the auditorium and hotel complex to build a massive three-tower mixed-use development that’s set to include over 1,500 apartments and feature 190,000 square feet for large gatherings, such as conferences. The project is estimated to cost $1.5 billion. 

Julia Echikson can be reached jechikson@commercialobserver.com

Update: The article was updated to include an additional statement from Hyatt.