‘State enforces rules that limit the intersection of scantily clad entertainment and liquor – and hip-hop artist Big Freedia and fans were not pleased’
Big Freedia was not allowed to perform in Mississippi due to spurious claims of unrestrained twerking.
Photo: Ilya S Savenok/Getty Images
‘Even though we do ass shaking, it’s the culture of bounce music. I didn’t know twerking violated anybody’s amendments,’ said Big Freedia, whose poster is on stage of a twerking event last year.
It started as a dispute between prominent bounce artist Big Freedia and a Mississippi town’s alcohol enforcement division over suspected gyrating.
The hip-hop artist from New Orleans, who was recently featured on Beyonce’s new song Formation, was due to perform in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, as she had several times before.
But officials with the Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) have rules that limit the intersection of scantily clad entertainment and liquor, and this January, they decided to start enforcing them.
“You can’t wear a thong. You must keep the cleft of your buttocks covered. And you cannot simulate a sex act,” said Mississippi ABC Chief of Enforcement Rusty Hanna, explaining the Mississippi provision that called into question Freedia’s show.
According to Ben Shemper, owner of The Dollar Box Showroom where Freedia’s show was to take place, an alcohol agent threatened to shut the concert down if Big Freedia performed, and even threatened to shut down his club for a year. Some other bars in the town who were also threatened with fines during the same period in January question whether Shemper was forced to cancel the show. They say they were flagged for ABC review over burlesque shows and simply offered to alter their choreography.
Scenes from Big Freedia’s Booty Bounce concert in Brooklyn, NY
But either way, the threats ended in the show’s cancellation, and outrage from Big Freedia that the alcohol officials had deemed twerking “adult entertainment”.
“I would just like to apologize to all my fans in Mississippi for my show being canceled tonight due to the state alcohol beverage control saying that my show violates some law out there,” Freedia posted on her Facebook page, announcing that the show would be canceled. “This is some twerkloose bullshit.”
Booty Bounce Brooklyn, NY
Freedia, who is the star of the reality television show Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, has been performing bounce music for 15 years, a New Orleans genre of hip-hop that is known for fast beats, call-and-response vocals and a dance known as twerking, in which dancers squat, place their hands on the floor and shake their butts.
Local fan JC Diaz planned to attend the concert and does not understand why the ABC would approve a burlesque show but then threaten to shut down the Big Freedia concert. “It seemed to me that (Big Freedia) was targeted because she’s gay,” Diaz said. “It’s some bogus bullshit.” “No matter where it’s coming from.
“Even though we do ass shaking, it’s the culture of bounce music. I didn’t know twerking violated anybody’s amendments. Our right is to be who we want to be and dance in a manner that we want to.” – Big Freedia