rainn.png
Thursday August 11th, 2022 10:21PM

Drag queen blasts GOP candidate for Arizona governor

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHOENIX (AP) — Kari Lake, the frontrunner in the Republican primary for Arizona governor, condemned the growing cultural clout of drag queens, jumping into the latest social grievance taking hold on the right.

But her comments were quickly criticized over the weekend by one of the most popular drag performers in Phoenix, who says Lake is a hypocrite who frequented his performances.

Richard Stevens, who performs as Barbra Seville, said Lake, a former television news anchor, regularly attended drag shows and even hired him to dress as Marilyn Monroe at a private party and brought her young daughter. He posted photos on his social media accounts of Lake posing with drag queens and screenshots of his conversations with her.

The dispute between the gubernatorial frontrunner and the prominent drag queen drew national attention and put Lake on the defensive two weeks before early voting begins ahead of Arizona's Aug. 2 primary. It also fuels a persistent criticism of Lake's conversion from Barack Obama donor to Donald Trump conservative.

“They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens,” Lake tweeted on Friday night. “They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns & Glory.”

Stevens responded on social media the next morning: “I’ve performed for her. I’ve performed for her family. I’ve met her kids. I’ve been in her home, and I have her private phone number and her private Facebook account.”

He told The Associated Press on Monday that he stayed in touch with Lake and privately defended her even as she ran a far-right campaign that he disagreed with. But when she came after drag queens, he said, “this hypocrisy really bothered me.”

“I was just personally offended by that tweet," Stevens said.

Stevens said he first met Lake in the late 1990s, when he performed regularly at a gay bar near the KSAZ studios, where Lake was an evening anchor. He said Lake and her coworkers would sometimes stop by the bar’s weekly drag show after the broadcast, and he recognized her from watching the news. They eventually struck up a friendship, he said. She would ask him for sources to discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ community, and he occasionally appeared on Fox 10 broadcasts.

Lake once hired him to perform as Marilyn Monroe at a coworker's baby shower about a decade ago, and there he met her daughter, whom he remembers being around 9 or 10 years old.

As Stevens' post quickly gained traction on social media Saturday, Lake's campaign initially responded by drawing a distinction between a drag performer and a man impersonating a female celebrity.

The campaign published a statement Sunday condemning the media for covering the controversy and threatening to sue Stevens for defamation.

“Like most sane people, Kari Lake is very much opposed to grown men or women dancing provocatively for children, especially at the expense of the taxpayer,” the statement said. “Why would anyone be opposed to this?”

The statement called Stevens a "talented comedian and performer that Kari Lake covered during her TV career" and pointed to his support for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

A spokesman for Lake, Russ Trumble, declined to comment further Monday, saying “it’s a legal matter now.”

Lake jumped quickly into the frontrunner's position after launching a campaign that energized the GOP base and earned Trump's endorsement. She has aggressively promoted false claims that the 2020 election was marred by fraud. But she faces a challenge from businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, who's family fortune has allowed her to vastly outspend Lake on television ads, and from former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon.

Drag shows feature men dressing in flamboyant women's clothing while dancing and singing or lip-syncing. Once a relatively obscure subculture, they've have exploded into the mainstream with the popularity of the television hit “RuPaul's Drag Race." Some performances, particularly light-night events at bars, can be risque. Others are promoted as family friendly affairs, such as drag queen story hour.

Lake's drag queen tweet latched onto an issue that caught fire this month with conservatives around the country who say drag shows are sexualizing children.

Lawmakers in several states have introduced legislation attempting to ban children from drag shows, and GOP leaders of the Arizona Senate say they have plans for a similar bill.

“The fact is, drag has existed forever,” Stevens said. “I’ve been doing drag longer than Kari has been a Republican. But if you want to outlaw drag in front of kids, you better free up your calendar because it’s ingrained in our culture. The first drag queen I saw was Bugs Bunny.”

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News, AP Business
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Georgia's Raffensperger among witnesses for next 1/6 hearing
The House Jan. 6 committee is expected to hear testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about the extraordinary pressure he faced from former President Donald Trump to “find 11,780” votes that could flip the state to prevent Joe Biden’s election victory
8:52PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Japan court says ban on same-sex marriage constitutional
A Japanese court has ruled that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution, and rejected demands for compensation by three couples who said their right to free union and equality has been violated
8:47PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Nobel sold for Ukrainian kids shatters record at $103.5M
The Nobel Peace Prize that Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov was auctioning off to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees has sold for $103.5 million
8:37PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Arizona Republican calls push to overturn 2020 'juvenile'
Arizona's Republican House speaker says calls from top advisers to former President Donald Trump to help overturn the former president's 2020 election loss were unsupported, unwise and a “juvenile” effort
8:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
Facebook removes GOP Senate candidate's 'RINO hunting' video
Facebook has removed a campaign video by Republican Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens that shows him brandishing a shotgun and declaring that he's hunting RINOs, or Republicans In Name Only
8:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
New York passes landmark voting rights legislation
New York’s governor has signed a law intended to prevent local officials from enacting rules that might suppress people’s voting rights because of their race
7:06PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Gucci unveils 'HaHaHa' collaboration with Harry Styles
By the fourth and final day of Milan Fashion Week menswear previews for next spring and summer, designers seem to have understood the assignment
7:11PM ( 2 hours ago )
Stallone, Costner, Chastain help launch Paramount+ in UK
Paramount+ flexed the star power of its shows as it prepares to launch in the United Kingdom with a London event attended by Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Kevin Costner, Jessica Chastain and more
5:12PM ( 4 hours ago )
2 deputies disciplined after Bob Saget death investigation
Officials say two Florida deputies have each been suspended for about two weeks for leaking news about actor and comedian Bob Saget’s death before his family was alerted
5:03PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Prada mixes nostalgia and grunge for summer 2023 menswear
Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons offered a nostalgia play for next season, mixing gingham, coming from the feminine world, with masculine menswear
3:54PM ( 1 day ago )
Milan designers invoke joy, nostalgia in menswear
Denim, fringe and chunky rubber sliders
5:30PM ( 2 days ago )
Milan Fashion Week: Fendi, Armani, Dolce&Gabbana invoke joy
Denim, fringe and chunky rubber sliders
12:54PM ( 2 days ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Colombian voters elect country's first Black vice president
As Colombia’s voters put aside a longtime antipathy to leftists and chose one as their new president, they also have carved out another milestone — electing the country's first Black vice president
7:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
Despite Western arms, Ukraine is outgunned in the east
Despite the heavy influx of weapons from the West, Ukrainian forces are outgunned by the Russians in the battle for the eastern Donbas region, where the fighting is largely being carried out by way of artillery exchanges
7:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
JetBlue raises offer again in bidding for Spirit Airlines
JetBlue is boosting its offer to buy Spirit Airlines, raising the stakes again in the bidding war over the nation’s biggest budget airline
7:06PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Georgia's Raffensperger among witnesses for next 1/6 hearing
The House Jan. 6 committee is expected to hear testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about the extraordinary pressure he faced from former President Donald Trump to “find 11,780” votes that could flip the state to prevent Joe Biden’s election victory
8:52PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Nobel sold for Ukrainian kids shatters record at $103.5M
The Nobel Peace Prize that Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov was auctioning off to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees has sold for $103.5 million
8:37PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Wife of WNBA's Griner tells AP scheduled call never happened
WNBA star Brittney Griner tried to call her wife nearly a dozen times through the American embassy in Russia on the couple’s fourth anniversary Saturday, but they never connected since the phone line at the embassy was not staffed
8:33PM ( 39 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Padres optimistic Machado won't need IL stint
Manny Machado was out of the lineup a day after spraining his left ankle, but Padres acting manager Ryan Flaherty is optimistic the All-Star third baseman won’t need to go on the injured list
8:32PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Machado out of Padres lineup, not on IL with sprained ankle
San Diego Padres All-Star slugger Manny Machado wasn’t in the lineup a day after spraining his left ankle and acting manager Ryan Flaherty was optimistic his former teammate won’t need to go on the injured list
8:24PM ( 48 minutes ago )