Drag King Willy SmacknTush has voiced concerns about safety following threats and opposition from Destiny Church, which led to the cancellation of his drag storytime event.

The Drag StoryTots event, scheduled for Upper Hutt, was called off due to safety concerns, but SmacknTush plans to livestream a drag storytime session on Facebook at the original event time.

Upper Hutt’s director of community services, Mike Ryan, stated that the council was “unable to ensure a safe and welcoming environment” after receiving feedback through social media, meetings, emails, and phone calls.


Destiny Church had strongly opposed the event. Earlier this week, leader Brian Tamaki warned that he would instruct his supporters to shut it down if the event proceeded.

Hannah, who performs as Willy SmacknTush, described the past week as “awful” with “really disappointing and quite scary” comments.

“There’s always the possibility of the wrong kind of people getting hold of it and kicking up a fuss,” Hannah said, noting that changes in the political climate have made such events more contentious.

“What I was not prepared for was the personal attacks,” Hannah added, alleging that violent threats had been made against her and her drag persona, Willy SmacknTush.

Hannah clarified that the only difference between drag storytime and other story-reading events is that the reader is in drag: “The performances are a bit sparklier, and they have a bit more makeup on.”

She expressed that discovering drag was a “gateway” to understanding her own identity within the queer community and described being Willy SmacknTush as an “art form”.

Following the backlash, members of the LGBTQ+ community reached out to Willy SmacknTush, expressing that they felt “unsafe” and were fearful of potential actions against them.

Tamaki also posted on social media site X, expressing outrage that Finance Minister Nicola Willis was following the drag performer on Instagram.

Willis responded, “No need to be jealous Brian. I’ll follow you on Instagram too if you’ll give lipstick and boas a go.”

Hannah hopes the live-streamed storytime, where Willy SmacknTush will read books in drag, will be “eye-opening” for those who opposed the original event, adding, “They will see a silly little man reading books on his couch.”