City attorney: Jarfly won't need additional permit for drag show

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Jarfly Brewing Co. on West Mt. Vernon Street in Somerset will host a drag show on October 5 to go along with the "Chill Out and Proud 2019" event downtown.

Paying $1,000 for an adult entertainment permit sounds like a real drag.

But in the case of an upcoming Somerset event, it's apparently unnecessary.

After the issue was raised by a citizen at Monday's meeting of the Somerset City Council, officials examined whether or not the costly license is needed to go ahead with the planned drag show at Jarfly Brewing Co. on Saturday, October 5, to go along with that day's Chill Out & Proud 2019 festival in downtown Somerset.

"No, they're not going to have obtain any permitting," Somerset Mayor Alan Keck told the Commonwealth Journal on Wednesday when asked what the status of the permit question was. He noted that it was a "complicated" issue, however, and had City Attorney John Adams provide the Commonwealth Journal with information to more fully address the question, which arrived in the form of a letter from Adams to Somerset City Council members.

The caveat here is that the entertainment in establishments that serve alcohol is already regulated by ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) ordinances on the books. According to Adams, Somerset ABC licensees -- Jarfly would qualify as a microbrewery -- are not required to have separate entertainment licenses for their entertainment. It's governed by Somerset Ordinance 12-9, which includes the prohibition of nudity and adult entertainment activities.

"No licensee shall offer or permit nudity, adult entertainment activities, including nude or nearly nude dancing, adult motion picture, television slide or stage shows, cabarets or sexual entertainment centers on any licenses premise," states the ordinance, also ruling out we t-shirt contests, lingerie fashion shows, mud wrestling Jell-O wresting, or dancing with touching for compensation."

"In addition, State ABC Regulation, 804 KAR 5:060, prohibits lewd obscene, or public display of sex acts in licensed ABC facilities," stated Adams in the letter.

Here's the kicker: None of that has to do with a drag show, which typically features individuals dressing up as members of the opposite sex and very often singing, campy comedy, and fashion.

"I must point out that performing 'in drag' is not by itself 'adult entertainment,' lewd, obscene, or otherwise a violation of Somerset Ordinance 12-0 or 804 KAR 5:060," said Adams. "What any performer does (whether in drag or traditionally dressed) could cause a violation. In other words, it is not what the performer is wearing (apart from a lingerie fashion show per the ordinance), it is what the performer does that causes the violation."

At Monday's meeting, Somerset citizen Terry Molden inquired to the council about the planned drag show, "Do they have an adult entertainment permit to do so?" Keck responded no, but that the event is not being held on city property but rather inside a private business.

Councilor Mike New later revisited the question, saying that he felt that other establishments have had to apply for a license, and he didn't see how Jarfly could "get around" the permit process. The discussion ended with Keck and City Attorney John Adams saying they would look further into the issue.

The adult entertainment ordinance -- Ordinance 07-23 -- determines that adult entertainment establishments mean commercial participation in one of several stated sexually themed activities. Those include an adult amusement arcade, adult book store, adult motion picture theater, adult novelty center, adult stage show theater, adult cassette rental center, cabaret, sexual entertainment center or self-designated adult entertainment center.

The ordinance spells out that this is a separate license from a general entertainment business, the license under which alcohol sales are permitted. It says that adult entertainment licenses are "yearly," with the annual license fee being $1,000 for fiscal year July 1 to June 31, and prorated at $100 a month for applications made after July 1.

Adams said he would review the ABC ordinance and KAR (Kentucky Administrative Regulations) with the owners of Jarfly Brewing Co. and ABC Administrator Janet Wilson.

Daniel Stroud, one of Jarfly's owners, put a post on Facebook Wednesday addressing some of the discussion around the planned drag show at the establishment.

"The event on the plaza has been permitted by the county, just like any other event would, including a great many religious events put on by our community," stated Stroud. "Jarfly, a private establishment needs no permit, and already holds all necessary licenses needed to host shows like this, or any other performance -- even charging a cover at the door (though we rarely do).

"Individuals have mentioned an Adult Entertainment license -- that's for a sex shop or 'adult theater'," added Stroud, noting that "those folks under the impression that's what a drag show is" need further education on the subject.

As for whether non-adults would be allowed into an establishment like Jarfly in the first place, or present for the drag show, Stroud confirmed that it was permissible.

"The Commonwealth of Kentucky allows all its microbreweries the freedom of opening doors to the entire family," said Stroud. "That is a freedom Jarfly exercises, and will not prohibit parents (including performers) from bringing their families."

Added Stroud, "I believe with my entire heart that we really are all in this together. I'm not going to tell you to stay home, or even not to picket. Use your freedom, as we all should feel the right to ... but be considerate to allow those wanting to enjoy the event their own freedom to enter and exit safely."

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