Entertainment

Big Freedia show rescheduled in Hattiesburg

Lici Beveridge

The Hattiesburg American

SCOTT THRELKELD/THE ADVOCATE
Queen of Bounce Big Freedia leads more than 400 people twerking Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, during the 8th annual Central City Festival in New Orleans.
SCOTT THRELKELD/THE ADVOCATE Queen of Bounce Big Freedia leads more than 400 people twerking Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, during the 8th annual Central City Festival in New Orleans.

Elvis shocked a generation with his gyrating hips.Jerry Lee Lewis had a "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." Since that time, plenty of musical acts have incorporated suggestive dance moves or lyrics. So what's the fuss about Big Freedia, Queen of Bounce?

Big Freedia, a New Orleans performing artist, had been scheduled to perform at the Dollar Box Showroom in Hattiesburg, but the show was canceled because "the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) warned us that they would 'show up in full force and fine us' if we allowed the show," owner Ben Shemper wrote on the club's Facebook page on Jan. 30.

The show has since been rescheduled for March 25.

Melvin Foley, Big Freedia's regional manager in New Orleans, said he was advised by legal counsel not to talk about what happened.

Shemper also declined to comment.

Rusty Hanna, Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control chief of enforcement, said there is a regulation that lists prohibited conduct and activities, with several things that have to do with clothing, nudity and conduct — "things of a sexual nature, like a performer can't simulate a sex act."

"Twerking itself, if you have proper clothing on, is not in violation," Hanna said. (The regulation) describes in great detail what you can and can't do.

"In some of the videos we watched, Big Freedia shows encourage public participation, and those patrons get up on stage with the dancers. … What we've seen of them would be in violation."

Hanna explained that some of the patrons have done things that violated the regulation, and not Big Freedia nor her dancers.

"But the responsibility falls on the license holder," Hanna said.

So the problem wasn't with what Big Freedia or her team would do, but with the potential actions of the audience.

"Until it happens, I can't tell you what is legal or illegal," Hanna said.

Read more of this story on The Hattiesburg American's website.

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