The names are too numerous to mention, but any major shift in New York City nightlife is single handedly always due to someone with vision, someone that is able to see something simple and craft something extraordinary. Raised in nightlife as a child and evolving through the world of fashion, party throwing provocateur Frankie Sharp (of famed parties like WestGay and Dreamland) has that distinct and sharp vision. When it was recently announced that he (along with partners Alan Picus & Bob Fluet) would be opening up a four-story gay nightclub in Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen aptly called, The Q. He chatted with me about the sometimes challenging path to opening The Q., what we can expect when the doors finally open, and why, for the man who “making the party is the only language I speak,” his passion remains steeped in finding a stage for his community and making them shine!
Michael Cook: From downtown Brooklyn to HK! What made you bring New York City The Q right now?
Frankie Sharp: The Q has been about a year and a half in the making. We were actually supposed to sign our lease a year ago on March 10 2020. Then literally days before, the whole world fell apart. My last event was on March 8th, 2020 and March 13th was my first cancelled gig; March 15, we were all in lockdown. Not only were my own lifelong dreams crushed, but everyone I knew was jobless, hopeless and we were losing friends, neighbors and family members. It was a dark uncertain time for everyone. My business partners and I tried to remain hopeful as we kept monitoring the virus and watching the industry and making predictions about what was to come. Sometime during the summer, our landlord came back to us with a “COVID friendly” deal and here we are today. Currently under construction of our four-story dreamland called The Q.
MC: So when did Frankie Sharp fall in love with the world of nightlife and what has the road to The Q been for you?
FS: Truth be told, but I was raised in bars and nightclubs. I didn’t really put it together until later in life when more information was drunkenly given to me by my parents one Christmas Eve about my very early upbringing in the Philippines. You see, my father was an American sailor who was stationed in the Philippines and that’s where he met my mother, who was dancing at a go-go club. They swiftly became a thing, and that exciting nightlife environment of smoky neon-lit mystery ended up becoming the backdrop of their romantic beginnings. When I was born, that nightlife world remained a part of our lives. Most of the club’s dancers, who were these beautiful, eccentric, confident women, some of whom were trans, became my babysitters and aunties. I remember waiting for my father to get back from work while I sat at the bar sipping Shirley Temples in martini glasses amazed at these beings around me.
So it actually all feels like returning home every time I am in a club. The flickering lights, the smell of stale beer and a freshly bleached floor, glamorous people counting cash; all of its earnest drama feels like a warm blanket to me. I started throwing my own parties in San Francisco in 2007 and I sorta never looked back. When I came to New York City in 2009, I thought I was going to parlay my talents in event producing and become a famous celebrity stylist, but it was too much lugging around garment bags for me. So like a moth to a flame, I was found either behind a DJ booth or in a lewk hanging from the rafters, and I realized making the party was more my speed. It’s almost the only language that I’m able to speak. Or more appropriately, my first language.
MC: What is going to make The Q stand out in New York City’s nightlife world?
FS: People say all the time that they live and breathe whatever it is that they’re trying to sell, but it’s true for me; nightlife is in my DNA. People also always have the need to say that their staff and programming is going to be diverse, all welcoming and inviting, but I’ve been doing that from day one and I’ve been doing that making a bunch of other people rich. It is time that we, as queer artists, have our own space owned and operated by our own people. This is the chance of a lifetime. That is what I am the most excited about with The Q. From our staff, to the programming, to our customers, it we will feel and look like New York does; a space for everyone. It is an honor to invite everyone, both to our stage and to our dance floor.
MC: What do you want to showcase at The Q that New York nightlife is missing?
FS: I can’t really say anything is missing. I just know how to approach things from my own perspective. But I do know that perspective is uniquely mine and no one else can mimic that. It was only recently that I fully started to believe that. I was a kid who was raised in hooker bars & became obsessed with musical theatre, so I focused on performing arts high school. At sixteen years old, I ditched those classes to go to punk shows in Tijuana, got stoned a bunch my senior year while listening to Billie Holiday and then skipped town to move to San Francisco, which in the early 2000’s, was like House and Techno Music University. I ended up slaving away in the cut throat NYC fashion industry and finding myself throwing epic parties in the greatest city in the world. If that bizarre experience doesn’t cultivate a fantasyland that is well rounded, bizarre and beautiful, I don’t know what will. I’m bringing all that and more to THE Q.
MC: You’re bringing The Q to life with what I hear is an eclectic and interesting group of people. What can you tell me about that process and group?
FS: My brilliant business partner Bob Fluet is an extremely talented engineer and architect and owns his own construction company, so he quite literally is building the club of our dreams. Anytime I have a bonkers idea he is right there figuring out how it can be made without question; what a gift. Not to mention he is the owner and operator of the wildly successful and now legendary multi venue bar series Boxers, which is known for its gorgeous staff, magnificent customer service and inclusive programming. He’s a business genius. Alan Picus, promoter extraordinaire, marketing and branding guru has been in the game producing weekly parties for decades at iconic NYC venues including Splash, XL, Stage 48, Copacabana, and creator of Boi Party events locally and nationally. It was actually Alan’s idea to put our team together, so many accolades must go to him from the jump. The three of us come to this seismic venture with uniquely different perspectives and vast nightlife experiences, but we come together harmoniously. Collectively we know everyones, so it is going to make for quite the community reach.
MC: The Q is a massive space; do you think you might be starting the resurgence of big clubs that people have been yearning for, especially as the “Roaring 20’s” are going to kick off?
FS: I don’t think we’ve started anything, I just think it’s a response to the dark we all had to suffer through; so now there must be light. And if we can find that silver lining to our collective trauma, then we must. If that silver lining is a giant dance floor, then my heart will be full and happy.
MC: So personally; what about nightlife and being a part of it truly bring you to life?
FS: Bringing my queer community together, putting them on a stage and giving them the room to find the light to the divine…while giving them everything that I have.
MC: Any idea when we can expect to walk through the doors of The Q? Anything planned that you want to drop exclusively here?
FS: 2021 is all I can say for sure. But I’m a stunt queen, and those stunts shall remain secrets. But like always, you will gag, because everyone who knows me, knows I carry hard and extra!
MC: What has kept you inspired and creative during the past year?
FS: Porn, fighting the GOP, my insane love for New York, binging on The Mandalorian and Wandavision, my self-taught sword wielding skills, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas, Dojacat and Gottmik from RuPaul’s Drag Race. And I hope opening week I can somehow incorporate all of those things!
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