Before drag, there were tele-peepers

Policing sexuality in restaurants is nothing new

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When the Tennessee Senate earlier this month passed a bill aimed at banning drag performances in public, it wasn’t the first time that elected officials in Tennessee have tried to police sexuality in bars and restaurants.

On February 22, 1949, Knoxville restaurateur Carrie Mae Cannon was charged with possession of obscene literature after city beer inspectors seized a set of “tele-peepers” from Cedar Chest Restaurant. The tiny devices, then commonly sold at hardware stores and car repair shops, “contain(ed) color photographs of unclad beauties,” according to The Knoxville Journal.

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