When NYC nightlife’s most prolific partymaker (Westgay! Metrosensual! BOYS! Dreamland! Lovegun!) took all of his kikis out of the bars in anticipation of a plague last year, it was a clear sign that the coronavirus was legit and our reality was about to change. And now that he’s back and heralding a spectacular brand new venue that he’ll be managing–which is bound to be a game changer–it’s a sign that the light at the end of the tunnel has arrived. All hail Frankie Sharp!
Thotyssey: Hello again Frankie! Always a pleasure!
Frankie Sharp: HI JIM I MISS YOU!!! I miss everyone!
We’ve been making due with your tasty social media presence this past year… I didn’t know you were a Jedi ninja, but I should’ve!
I honestly didn’t know what to do with content throughout the year (oh my god, a year). But from not doing ANY events, it kept me sane and helped me still feel somewhat connected. I was actually supposed to take my first sword-fighting classes on March 10th. Then… ya know. So I taught myself on YouTube, for better or worse. There’s a few smashed vases around the house.
Necessary casualties! When you cancelled all your events before lockdown officially happened, it almost seemed alarmist at the time. Most of us really hadn’t really registered the severity of the situation yet.
Uh, tell me about it. Some of the venues weren’t very happy with me about shutting all [my events] down at once. But anyone who understands math and exponential growth and watches the news could figure it out. But truthfully, all the credit goes to my boyfriend–who is a sexy scientist–and our best friend who at the time was very tied to Fauci; they worked closely monitoring the spread of coronavirus since December… maybe before that, even. We had bug-out-bags packed and an escape plan back in February.
But even I, myself, was in denial. I was terrified to lose my income, but also I was terrified I was going to kill people. We had no idea the severity of the virus yet.
What are your thoughts on promoters and producers who “kept going” through lockdown? That’s a bit of loaded question, because it includes folks who crossed over into other states where there were fewer restrictions to host but then returned to NYC, as well as those who did secret events right here in NY.
I hated it. On one hand, it didn’t do anyone any favors of getting us out sooner and long term. And it being for profit with no donations to eradicating the virus just felt super… just wrong. But on the other hand, we had no real guidance from the top, and the information was always confusing. And I think we can all say that this year really showed us that humans aren’t that bright. As community builders, I don’t really understand the incessant need [for nightlife producers / promoters / hosts] to post from the event on socials. That felt irresponsible, and driven by ego.
However, I’ve also learned I can’t judge how people navigate their trauma, grief, bank accounts, etc. Also at this point people are vaccinated, half-vaccinated, had it and have antibodies, etc.; you also can’t judge another group without the full details of their situation. So it would bum me out, but I stayed out of [the controversy] publicly. I decided to start building for the future, and if everyone was trying to burn it down for selfish reasons… well, let them.
We’ll get to all that might be different about this new era of nightlife post-lockdown. But now, I want to talk about what could be one of the most vital new venues in that future… The Q! Tell us about the folks who spearheaded this venture, how you got involved, and what that timeline was like.
The Q has been a little over a year and a half in the making. I was approached by owner / architect of the wildly successful Boxers venues, Bob Fluet, and promoter extraordinaire Alan Picus about coming on as the creative director and partner for a new venue they were cooking up. We shopped for spaces and found a very, very special one we all three fell in love with–smack dab in the middle of Times Square and Hells Kitchen. Four floors, and a behemoth!
With the vast space and what it offered, it was immediately made clear to me that I could take all my events I’ve ever done under one roof and essentially make it brick and mortar. Cabarets, gogo nights, megaclub nights… but also add in theatre shows, dance productions, and even work with Leggoh on a new Vogue Ball. The space just lends to so many different productions. So we went through the whole community board, SLA and block association, and were pretty supported through and through. And eventually we were to sign our lease on [or around] March 10.
Then the pandemic hit us… and I thought my dream was over. We kept monitoring the virus and how it was moving–but I really thought this was just over for me. But we powered through; the landlord contacted us, gave us a sweet deal that gave us some breathing room… and here we are.
We’ll be ready to open doors when we’re at 100% [capacity allowed], but I’m gonna keep an eye out on how everyone moves. I wanna open when we can all start topping each other again, without the PTSD. So I’ve been saying: spring / summer 2021.
Aside from my partners. We also have a couple of really, really fun celebrity investors who have been friends and supporters of mine that I get to announce, too–from Broadway, film and TV and the fashion world. But I’m waiting to drop that when I can be really dramatic about it. I am a showman after all, and I love a stunt. The stunts of nightlife are what I miss the most about producing.
This is all extraordinary! We haven’t had a large, multi-tiered space in NYC for a very long time… I almost forget what they are like! What kind of vibes, crowds and talent do you think will be fostered in The Q?
Anyone who knows me knows how erratic I am, and how much I love and prosper harmonious chaos in all its forms. So in trying to not sound too trite: there will be something for everyone in programming, aesthetic and approach. The Q will be multi-genre, multi-generational and multi-cultural, and it will be celebrating everything not only in the queer spectrum, but in the diversity of New York herself. I would love it to be an institution, but one step at a time.
Ill say this. It’ll be one of the few places uptown that you can get lost in a sexy lounge that has a hidden room behind a secret door (just gotta find the handle), a piano with hot rod flames on the cabaret floor, and a dancefloor with a suspended catwalk.
If anyone can pull this off, it’s you! This must’ve been your singular focus this past year. So, all your events going forward will be at The Q?
I’m doing all new programming at The Q. Alan Picus (of Boiparty and Penthaus fame) and I are going to join forces on the big club nights; together we know everyone. And for the other floors we’ll be doing jazz, drag, theatre, gogo nights… everything I love. But this is my opportunity to create a whole new world. I guess I just wanna be where the people are…
This venue could be the key in re-inserting live music into nightlife, among other things.
I went to Performing Arts High School, and then was in a band for years in multiple iterations and roles before I moved away and become a club head. Nothing beats the visceral feeling of live art–in music, theatre or dance. Combining the two has always been the goal.
Do you think the behavior of partygoers is going to be radically different post-lockdown? Or will folks gradually just go right back into the business of public fun?
If last summer was any inkling… and where people are already… and myself who had it, has antibodies and vaccinated… I already feel the shift. Not only do I watch the numbers and follow science, but I also come from a long line of stripper witches. I can feel the return in the air. We all want to be out. And once we are, it will be something of epic proportions. I almost want to start a campaign that suggests returning to nightlife in baby steps. I just feel like everyone is gonna burst once everything is lifted. We will have masks, and we will all be recovering from our collective trauma, and that will take some getting used to and letting go of. But we will do so together.
It’s so exciting that The Q is gonna be Frankie Sharp Central, now!
Look… I’m not rich. I’m a creative who has always wanted my own space, and a home for my community in the city that I am obsessed with. I never thought that could happen to someone like me. I only could have done this with my wonderful partners who believe in me, and the serious and unfortunate change the city went through. We all lost so much. I lost best friends, neighbors. I lost my job… this is about that. This is about getting back what was taken.
I have so many more questions, but I’m guessing you don’t have many more answers at this early juncture.
Can’t say much more about The Q. We’ll be dropping some promo soon, so watch this space for club updates and @frankiesharp for more sword fighting, thirsty Invisalign progress selfies, or a way to contact me for any and all suggestions on the club. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks Frankie… we all can’t wait to see you at The Q!
- Frankie Sharp (3.17.2018)
- Frankie Sharp (11.30.2018)
- Frankie Sharp (3.22.2019)
- Frankie Sharp (8.30.2019)