YORKVILLE – Inside Yorkville’s Pinz Entertainment Center, drag queens were strutting their stuff for an appreciative, mostly female audience waiving dollar bills.
Outside along Route 47, about 20 protesters displayed placards challenging the show’s legality and flags declaring “Jesus is King.”
The “Sunday Funday Drag Brunch” at Pinz, 1211 N. Bridge St., on Aug. 21 was the just second since owner Chris Reum purchased the business in April.
Molly Krempski of Yorkville contends that the drag shows constitute adult entertainment and are in violation of city ordinance.
“If we don’t enforce the law we have no country,” Krempski said.
Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said the drag shows, which also have taken place at Southbank Original Barbecue, 129 E. Hydraulic Ave., are not violating the city’s ordinances.
Krempski has been circulating brief video clips of two drag shows, one at Pinz and the other at Southbank. The video from Pinz appears to show a female patron casually touching the breast of a drag perfomer walking past her table.
“In another other environment that would be sexual assault,” Krempski said, adding that bare buttocks have been displayed at Southbank.
The four drag queens who appeared at Pinz on Aug. 21 were well-covered in colorful dresses.
The performers paraded between the tables as patrons eagerly thrust dollar bills into their hands.
Alan Garcia of Aurora, whose drag stage name is Aleyna Couture, said the money is needed and appreciated.
“It takes a lot of money to look this cheap,” Garcia said, grinning. “It’s a very expensive hobby. You have to spend money to look like money. Good drag is an investment.”
For Reum, the drag show was just good business, with a sold-out crowd of about 120 paying $30 a ticket or even $40 for a seat in front of the stage.
“Our opinion is all voices need to he heard,” Reum said of the drag show. “It’s a great business move and it’s a great show.”
Pinz has a 16-lane bowling alley, a large bar area with a stage and an outdoor volleyball court. The business hosts bingo nights, trivia nights and even “micro wrestling,” featuring wrestlers under five-feet-tall.
Only persons 21 and older were allowed into the show.
Beth Burns of Yorkville brought step-daughter Alex Seifers to the show for her birthday.
“It’s fun and energetic,” said Burns, for whom this was not the first time at a drag show.
It was the first visit to a drag show for Cindy Smith of Plano.
“I’ve always wanted to come to a drag show,” Smith said as she waited for the performance to start. “It looks like it would be fun.”
The crowd seemed to be having plenty of fun as the drag queens danced and lip-synched to music ranging from Lady Gaga to Taylor Swift to Donna Summer, played by a disc jockey on the stage.
Reaction from audience members to the protest outside ranged from puzzlement to disinterest to disgust.
“It makes me sick that people are so hateful to people who are different from them,” said Becky Hofner of Plano. “They use their religion like a free pass to spew their hate.”
Hofner and friend Ashley Quiles, also of Plano, formed a small counter-demonstration on the opposite side of the parking lot entrance from Krempski and her group.
“We wanted to be a counter-presence so people can see that there is love and acceptance,” Quiles said.
Many of the protesters are members of a Bible-study group that Krempski holds at her home.
Others, like Nancy Thompson of Newark, are members of Helmar Lutheran Church in Newark.
Thompson, a retired school teacher, said her interest is in protecting children and that drag shows are not appropriate.
“Our goal is to get it into an adult-only area,” Thompson said. “We’re not against transgendered people. It should be in a venue where kids cannot be in attendance.”
Reum said the 21 and up rule was being strictly enforced. There was no one in the bar area where the show was staged who appeared to be under 21. The room was segregated from the bowling alley.
Development, Krempski said the city is not enforcing its own ordinance.
“The city is failing to classify this type of show as adult entertainment because of recent American Civil Liberties Union legal victories surrounding drag entertainment,” Krempski said. “I can understand these decisions, as cross-dressed people also have a basic right to personal expression.”
Krempski will take her protest to the Yorkville City Council meeting on Aug. 23.
“Transgendered and naturally gendered people also have a right to sexual expression, but we have statutes in place that need to be exercised to balance the rights of the rest of the community while those kinds of things are being expressed,” Krempski said.
“We’d like to keep Yorkville from becoming the armpit of Kendall County,” Krempski said.