Big Freedia recently got a burst of mainstream exposure when she contributed to Beyoncé’s surprise single, “Formation.” But capitalizing on this new surge of interest may be difficult: according to Nola.com, a Big Freedia show in Hattiesberg, Mississippi was preemptively cancelled when the performance caught the eye of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control office.
Ben Shemper, who owns The Dollar Box Showroom, told Nola.com that he received a call from an official who “felt the show would be in violation of Mississippi codes.” Shemper didn’t reveal much about what the ABC officer said, but he noted, “the word 'gyrating' was in there. He made it sound like it was some kind of strip show or whatever."
The Dollar Box Showroom announced the cancellation on Facebook. “For those of you that haven't heard the Big Freedia show was cancelled… Don't kill the messenger, the ABC warned us that they would 'show up in full force and fine us' if we allowed the show."
Rusty Hanna, Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control chief of enforcement, denied his office’s involvement, saying “if they canceled, it was their own decision.” But Reid Martin, who helps manage Big Freedia, reportedly heard Shemper’s story and called the ABC. Martin said an officer informed that him Freedia’s YouTube videos contained behavior that “he believed [was] illegal in a place that serves alcohol in Mississippi.”
“I can’t believe this is happening in 2016,” Big Freedia told The FADER. “My legal team are looking into any law violations here. I’m so sorry for the fans in Mississippi!”