Gay nightlife promoter speaks out amid legal fallout over The Q nightclub

The former nightclub known as The Q was located at 795 Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
The former nightclub known as The Q, which was located at 795 Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, closed on March 29.
Wikimedia Commons/Armadillopteryx

The legal drama and infighting engulfing the now-shuttered nightclub known as The Q took a new turn earlier this month when New York Supreme Court Judge Suzanne J. Adams threw out all four of the former creative director’s allegations against the club’s former executive producer.

Adams rejected accusations by former creative director Frankie Sharp that Allan Pikus (who also goes by Alan Picus) caused a breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and accounting in his capacity as executive producer at The Q. Furthermore, the judge dismissed the accusations with prejudice, meaning Sharp cannot sue Pikus on the same or modified allegations, said Pikus’ lawyer Thomas Shanahan, PC.

Last year, Shanahan, who is openly gay, was honored with a Gay City News 2022 Impact Award.

The ruling in Sharp v. Bar Fluid, et al. came April 12, two weeks after The Q suddenly closed March 29.

The Q’s troubles began last summer when Sharp, a gay nightlife promoter, sued the club’s owner, Robert “Bob” Fluet and Bar Fluid, LLC, in June 2022 after Fluet fired Sharp in May 2022. Sharp also sued Pikus and accused him of scandalous behavior.

According to State Supreme Court documents, Sharp included Pikus in his case against Bar Fluid, LLC, The Q’s parent company, and Fluet, as an alleged co-owner of The Q, for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, accounting, and fraudulent concealment. Fluet, who is listed on court documents as the sole owner of Bar Fluid, LLC and its subsidiary nightclub, The Q, fired Pikus following the lawsuit in July 2022.

Adams did not address Sharp’s allegations that Pikus engaged in sexual misconduct with patrons in front of employees, as well as racism, sexism, and discrimination, among other claims.

Allan Pikus was fired from his position at The Q. Allan Pikus

“[Adams] saw through the sensation from the reality of what issues were at hand based on whatever evidence was presented,” Pikus said. “I feel, in a sense, vindicated because it was really shocking, annoying, and disturbing to have to sit back and lawyers want you to be quiet and hear all of these allegations that are completely factless and never brought up or mentioned once until I saw that lawsuit like everyone else.”

Adams denied Fluet and Bar Fluid, LLC’s motions to dismiss Sharp’s case. Fluet has 35 days from April 14 to submit to the court a Preliminary Conference Order for judicial review, according to the ruling.

Sharp’s lawyer, Jonathan Dempsey, wrote in an April 17 email statement to Gay City News that he found the court’s dismissal of Pikus’ case a “bit disappointing.”

Referring to Pikus as Sharp’s former business partner, Dempsey wrote, “The breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims have a heightened standard that we just couldn’t clear at this stage without access to the relevant documents and records.”

He also blamed Fluet’s firing of Pikus, stating it “blunted our unjust enrichment claim.”

However, he wrote, “We’re absolutely thrilled with the outcome! …the court entirely denied the dismissal motions of defendants Bar Fluid LLC (“The Q”) and Robert Fluet, so all claims against them survive and will now go to trial.” 

Fluet did not respond to a request for comment.

Pikus wouldn’t comment about Fluet and Sharp’s case or Sharp’s new venture, Frankie’s Pub, scheduled to open this summer.

One on one

“My goal here with the conversation we are having is to really set the record straight,” Pikus said. 

Until the judge dismissed him from the case, the marketing consultant and the event producer of Boi Promotions, LLC denied all the allegations against him in Sharp’s lawsuit — from discrimination to public sex in front of staff at the club — and the allegations against Fluet, Bar Fluid and The Q. 

Pikus and Shanahan spoke frankly and openly with Gay City News for more than an hour as they went through each of Sharp’s allegations, the damage inflicted to his career, and the impact on New York City’s LGBTQ nightlife — as well as what the future holds for him.

Legal documents showed that Pikus was never legally involved in Bar Fluid, LLC’s business beyond being a hired contractor, but there was a point when Fluet raised the opportunity to Pikus to become a partner in The Q, Pikus said. Pikus said he declined Fluet’s offer to become a partner of The Q. 

When asked why he didn’t want to become a partner, Pikus said he has “been in the business long enough to know that there’s a lot of liabilities in the industry … and that’s never something I ever aspire to undertake.”

“I don’t like the spotlight, ironically,” Pikus said. “I don’t like the attention and I’m not looking for credit. I’m looking to do the best job I can and contribute to the community and people’s experiences and lifelong memories.”

Then the lawsuit came.

“I almost fell out of my chair,” said Shanahan, who has represented Pikus for six years, as well as his mentor, New York City gay promoter John Blair. Pikus is known for throwing diverse parties and he had never received any complaints like what was alleged in the lawsuit, Shanahan said. 

“It can’t be right about the same person that I’ve been working with for decades,” Shanahn said. “It can’t be.”

He added: “This has caused a lot of damage to his reputation in a very unfair way.”

Pikus, describing the allegations as “completely untrue,” said it was “just really horrible and difficult to stand by and watch my reputation be destroyed…” 

“[The case against The Q] is a shame because the truth is that venue was a sanctuary for so many people,” said Pikus, adding that many of the staff, talent, and patrons were people of color. “It was built with the premise of being an inclusive space” and it was in a convenient location.

Addressing some of the allegations, Pikus said it was impossible to discriminate against clubgoers as Sharp claimed because all tickets to The Q on Pikus’ nights were sold online. He said he didn’t interact with the door people, security, or the sound people, as they were all hired and managed by Fluet.

Pikus said his only responsibility was to bring the crowd into the club and work with the DJs and performers to ensure the club ran smoothly on the main dance floor, where there were thousands of sweaty bodies bumping and grinding every Friday and Saturday night.

“We actually made sure that of the many rooms in the club, there was music that would appeal to everyone,” Pikus said. “That was the uniqueness of The Q — that because there were so many rooms and floors, we were in a position to be really inclusive and allow everyone to come and have a customized experience and choose their music and room.”

Pikus added that to his knowledge, there was no underage drinking or drugs allowed into the club, and security was the tightest of New York City’s nightclubs.

Shanahan said he pulled files ranging from IRS to community board documents, which he presented to the court, that showed Pikus had no ownership ties, nor were there complaints involving Pikus from employees, patrons, or neighbors that corroborated Sharp’s allegations in his complaint, which Gay City News also reviewed.

“I was kind of shocked by the fact that it was just so much more exaggerated than the reality of when I actually looked at the community board documents,” Shanahan said regarding Sharp’s allegations in his complaint.

Picking up the pieces

Pikus said the damage to his reputation and career due to the case is “incalculable,” especially since the case went viral in the media and on social media without verification if the allegations were true or not. Pikus said people wanted to speak out in support of him, but he said they were concerned about backlash and cancel culture.

“All I’ll say is that Allan has always been a consummate professional in the decade and a half that I’ve known and worked with him,” DJ David Serrano wrote in a message to Gay City News April 18.

Pikus said “the reality is we’re” living in a “TikTok world where people buy into sensation and they like to believe what they want to believe and they’ll choose the side without looking deeper into evidence and facts.”

When asked if he plans to countersue Sharp to recoup damages, Pikus said, “I’d have to leave it to the lawyers to decide the steps going forward.”

Shanahan said any further litigation would be up to Sharp.

“If they continue to try and cancel Allan and if they continue to publish untrue allegations, then things are going to go in a very litigious direction,” he said, noting ongoing posts attacking Pikus on social media. “If Frankie is opening a place and focuses on that, and stops with the ‘cancel culture,’ then I think everybody can move on with their lives.”

Moving on, or not

In Dempsey’s statement to Gay City News, it appeared that Sharp might not be done with Pikus.

“To be clear, only the business claims against Mr. Picus were dismissed: the three civil rights claims centering on Mr. Picus’ misconduct were never subject to dismissal and remain alive, well, and quite central to Frankie’s case,” Dempsey wrote.

“One of the great mysteries of this case is why Mr. Fluet went to such lengths to enable and cover up Mr. Pikus’ reported misconduct,” he continued. “We look forward to a full answer to this and other questions in the coming months.”

Responding to Dempsey’s statement, Shanahan said there won’t be further action after New York City’s Human Rights Commission decided to not investigate further due to a lack of evidence. Responding to questions from Gay City News, Jose Alberto Rios Lua, the executive director of communications and marketing at the New York City Commission on Human Rights, couldn’t comment on whether there was an active investigation or not into Sharp’s allegations of Pikus’ alleged discrimination at The Q.

For now, Pikus is focused on his supporters and returning to promoting parties, he said.