Performer suspects guest rap on Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ to blame after Mississippi cancels concert
Big Freedia (YouTube)

A New Orleans rapper who takes a guest turn in Beyoncé's latest song had a concert canceled in Mississippi over twerking.


Big Freedia, a "bounce" rapper whose shows feature gyrating dancers and bawdy lyrics, had performed several times in Hattiesburg, about 110 miles away, before a club owner told her that State Alcohol Beverage Control threatened fines if the concert went on as planned, reported The Times-Picayune.

The state licensing board prohibits scantily clad entertainment where liquor is served, and officials threatened to yank The Dollar Box Showroom's liquor license if Big Freedia's scheduled Feb. 12 concert went on as planned.

"The word gyrating was in there," said club owner Ben Shemper. "He made it sound like it was some kind of strip show or whatever."

The Mississippi ABC Chief of Enforcement Rusty Hanna explained the state's policy to The Guardian.

“You can’t wear a thong," said Rusty Hanna, the Mississippi ABC Chief. "You must keep the cleft of your buttocks covered, and you cannot simulate a sex act."

Big Freedia said she'd performed in Mississippi without incident in the past, but she said something apparently changed after performing in Beyoncé's controversial hit song, "Formation," and starring in Fuse channel reality show "Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce."

"The looked at some of my YouTube videos, and they said that my content of my music and my show was too sexual for their state," she said.

She speculated her involvement with Beyoncé's song, which some have complained is anti-police, might have motivated the heavy-handed enforcement of the state ordinance.

"I've been there numerous amounts of times already, so I'm not sure who's pulling this cord or what's going on up there," Big Freedia said. "But my legal team will be taking action. It's sad that the fans in Mississippi could not get to see me and indulge and have fun like we normally do. I just played at the Mississippi Coliseum with Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy."

Big Freedia told fans she was selling T-shirts related to the controversy, although she didn't provide a link.

Right to twerk

A fan who planned to attend the Hattiesburg concert pointed out that the ABC had recently approved a burlesque show but threatened to shut down Big Freedia's show.

“It seemed to me that she was targeted because she’s gay,” said fan JC Diaz.

Big Freedia complained the enforcement threats were "bogus bullshit" and compared the cancellation to the movie "Footloose."

“Even though we do ass shaking, it’s the culture of bounce music," she said. "I didn’t know twerking violated anybody’s amendments. Our right is to be who we want to be and dance in a manner that we want to.”

A March 25 event, called "Twerkloose" and inspired by the 1984 Kevin Bacon movie, has been scheduled for The Dollar Box Showroom, and ABC officials said they hoped it would meet their requirements.

"I hope they can perform and the patrons can behave in a way that there’s no violations," said Hanna, the ABC chief. "That’s our goal. For everybody to do what they want to do as long as it complies with our reg.”

Watch this interview with Big Freedia posted online by NOLA.com: