Congress–tasked with fixing the nation’s many problems–are taking aim at the one thing that is truly ours, and we don’t just mean our God-given right to be treated the same as every other long-suffering bastard by getting married and joining the military. No, we mean the fab entertainment provided by our drag queens. We may not have many rights, but we do have the best drag queens ever!
A proposed amendment to federal copyright infringement law would make it illegal for an individual or group to lip-sync to a copyrighted song and post the “performance” on the Internet. (There goes a good half of YouTube, mind you.) Blame this on the record company lobbyists, natch. Since they can’t make a buck selling you albums anymore in the old fashioned way, they want to take all the fun away, even if these amateur shows actually promote their goods.
If the amendment becomes law, could public performances be the next target? Since every drag queen from L.A. to New York and everywhere in between is mouthing off to Gaga, Britney, Katy–and even the Pussycat Dolls from time to time–who the hell is going to entertain us at brunch? At bingo? Before we get drunk enough to tear up the dance floor on our own? Will Karaoke be enough?
Granted, the letter of the (not yet) law won’t stop your favorite girls from bopping around to J.Lo’s “On The Floor” at your favorite club this weekend, but they’ll sure think twice about taping it and posting it online to try to get new club gigs (or TV appearances). But perhaps these club performances really could be doomed, too, if you read the law carefully. I’ve seen the tip jars performers walk away with at the end of an evening, and with a proposed financial cap of $2,500 in profits a year, even marginal queens would have to take more nights off. Or find a third job. Or start paying BMI and ASCAP royalties.
And don’t even get me started on television competition shows. RuPaul and her contestants, both past and future, must be shakin’ in their Jimmy Choos.
The record companies took too long to change with the times and too long to realize that nobody buys entire collections anymore. But to go after the drag queens (and high school kids who make innocent tribute videos from their bedrooms, for that matter)!? Get a life and find a new way to make a buck.
Scott Wallis is co-host of the GayCities/Queerty-sponsored Swish Edition comedy & interview talk show. The June 23 episode discusses this, the GLAAD upheaval, Cee Lo Green’s anti-gay tweet, Baltimore’s sh#t show of a Pride, and much more gay hilarity. Listen here:
Photo by Destiny B. Childs