A Maryville haunted house-themed punk rock show was changed a day before its intended start time, following complaints about the event’s admissions policy and claims that it promoted “Satanism.”
Set for Saturday, Oct. 8, and billed as being open to all ages, the Murvul Punk and Drag Haunted House at The Bird and the Book, a Maryville restaurant and event venue, was conceived as a concert featuring drag performers.
The drag element of the show has since been cut, but Lisa Misosky, the owner of The Bird and the Book and its sister business, Southland Books and Cafe, said that the show will otherwise go on. The Saturday concert will now be open to legal adults only.
The city of Maryville’s police chief, Tony Crisp, informed Misosky on Friday morning that the inclusion of drag queen performers in the event would violate state law.
The statute applies, Crisp told her, because her business is located within 1,000 feet of a protected property. The statute specifically prohibits “adult establishments,” such as cabarets, from operating near places such as child care facilities, schools and places of worship. The Well, a charismatic church on East Broadway Avenue, is within that range.
Crisp told The Daily Times that he had received “several calls” about the event before raising the issue with Misosky. “I told her that it’s my opinion that it would put her afoul of the law,” he said in a phone interview.
Misosky, who described the original event as “PG-13,” commented that Crisp had been “kind and gracious” in his discussion with her regarding the event, but said that the time leading up to that discussion had been fraught.
“I certainly wish not to be in violation of the law,” she said of her own thought process. Yet, she added, “No parent is gonna bring their kid to a punk rock show.” Her business has often hosted monthly, adults only, drag queen bingo events. The “hatred and vitriol” she reported receiving in recent days, she said, was new, and it staggered her.
The Well’s pastor, Mike Brewer, told his congregation that he’d spoken with the Blount County mayor’s office about the event, and that he was aware of others who had contacted the Maryville Police Department. Ken Peters, a Lenoir City-based pastor and anti-abortion activist, wrote on Facebook that he had contacted Crisp.
Misosky noted that she had also spoken with Brewer for several hours. The conversation was not productive, she commented.
“He asked if we were holding satanic rituals downstairs,” she said.
Of the multiple people Misosky said have referred to her and her staff as “groomers” of children and “Satanists” since the incident began, she commented, “They’re not kind, they’re not Christian. This is certainly not what Jesus would do.”
Misosky has requested additional police patrols around her business. She explained that she felt “reformatting” the event and moving forward was an obligation to the event vendors and to the people who intended to attend. She also told The Daily Times that an off-duty law enforcement officer would provide security during the event.
In a message to his congregation that was also posted to the church’s Facebook page, Brewer said Thursday, “There comes a time when love compels you to a higher level of action.” He said that he took particular issue with the fact that the event was initially open to all ages.
“We have an issue with all of it, of course. It’s demonic. Okay, it’s demonic. There’s no other way to put it. You can’t polish that,” he continued. “Now, any adult can do whatever they want. Okay. No time in history do we usurp an individual’s right to sin unless that sin hurts others,” said Brewer. However, as the event was open to minors, he felt that “it’s time to expose.”
“They’re actually getting bolder,” he said.
The Daily Times contacted Brewer for a comment, but did not receive a response by press time. On his church’s Facebook page, he cheered the changes to the event, writing, ”We have a victory from our prayers and many others prayers from yesterday regarding the event pictured below (attached images showed fliers for The Bird and the Book event).”
He also called off a plan to assemble near the event to pray.
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