A museum in Stirling Scotland has cancelled a show for under 12s that was due to be hosted by a male stripper in an act called ‘Under the ABC with Merman Tom’.
The show was cancelled after outrage erupted over the choice of performer.
The Scottish Sun reports the performer in question, Tom Harlow, is an adult burlesque artist and “is photographed naked and offers nude prints for sale.” on his website.
It continues, “He describes his own act as classic “striptease with a male twist, bump and grind,” and that he is the “dirtiest showboy in town.”
It also states that Harlow performs an adult version of his merman character “in a 90-minute X-rated show called “The Salty Seamen”, and that this has been adapted for children.
What is it about Scotland that the adults keep employing men who have social media accounts that are more than x-rated to perform for kids?
— Miss Jo (@therealmissjo) September 28, 2022
The Smith Museum and Art Gallery issued a statement accusing detractors of making a “direct link between Tom and ‘grooming’ young children – that is the reality here”, it says.
It also levels accusation of targeting Tom as “a gay man” and wanting to “cause harm” to the museum itself.
The statement also claims that although the artist in question does do adult themed performances, he is “an exemplary professional in his interaction with young people and our staff at the Smith” claiming that “his various acts are age appropriate and distinct.”
It also states that the venue would take steps to report “the organisation” it sees as responsible for the decision to cancel saying, “The matter has been reported to Police Scotland and as an organisation we will pass evidence on when required”.
Tom Harlow an adult burlesque, "Merman" dancer is booked to appear at the Stirling Smith & Art Gallery for a show aimed at under 12s.
His website offers naked pics & describes himself as a classic “striptease with a male twist, bump & grind,” the “dirtiest showboy in town.” pic.twitter.com/ECCMZw0GkD
— David Atherton (@DaveAtherton20) September 28, 2022
The museum states that the show, which was financed by the Scottish Government as part of Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund in conjunction with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, was cancelled at Harlow’s request.
Similarly in 2019 drag performers ‘Glitter Hole’ had a scheduled drag story time event aimed at children cancelled by Dún Laoghaire Co Council after a public outcry.
A member of the group tweeted, “We’ll be propagating the gay agenda under the guise of a kid’s storytelling event tomorrow and Sunday”, in the run up to the event which was aimed at 3-7 year olds.
The group also publicly boasted about not having been ‘garda vetted’ prior to the event.
A video clip of a 2020 performance of Harlow’s Merman Tom shows him holding aloft a copy of a children’s book called “Julian is a mermaid” about a male child who fantasises about becoming a mermaid.
In the book Julian’s grandmother, after seeing her grandson attempting to dress like a mermaid, brings him to a parade of adults dressed in peculiar mermaid-like costumes.
The show advertisement included “Merman Tom will sing some of your favourite songs and read you one of his favourite alternative and empowering fairytales”, it also encouraged children to take selfies with Harlow.