The founder of a popular New York LGBTQ+ nightclub has been accused of creating a racist, drug-fuelled and toxic environment.
Allan Pikus (sometimes spelled Picus) co-founded The Q nightclub with Frankie Sharp and Bob Fluet in 2021, with the goal of creating the most inclusive and largest LGBTQ+ club in New York.
The Q had the financial backing of juggernaut celebrities like Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto, Pose star Billy Porter and Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears, and became an instant success when it opened its doors in June 2021.
However, in an explosive lawsuit, Sharp has accused Pikus of fostering a toxic environment where racism and inappropriate conduct were rife, and where he would have sex with punters in front of staff.
The lawsuit alleges that Pikus was “hostile to the club catering to any group other than white young men” and repeatedly told Sharp to “make sure your Latin nights are the good kind of Latins. Not Blatinos.”
It claims that Pikus said his priority was to not “alienate the white boys” and to make sure the club was “comfortable for white twinks.”
This exclusionary behaviour also extended to Pikus’ hiring practices, the suit alleges.
In the lawsuit, filed in New York’s Supreme Court on 10 June, Shap claims that during an interview Pikus told a candidate he wouldn’t “break his back to hire people just because they’re black or trans”.
In addition to the discriminatory hiring practices Pikus is also accused of having sex with young men at the club, within sight and earshot of club patrons.
Pikus’ alleged sexual encounters are said to have disturbed the club staff, and Sharp said this is what prompted his suit.
“I had heard of Alan engaging in sexual activity in the employee restroom often, although he was also commonly seen engaging in sex acts with (often very young-looking) customers in the public areas of the club,” Sharp told NPR.
On top of this, Sharp claims Pikus instructed bouncers to not check IDs and because of this the club became well-known for allowing underage drinking.
He also alleges Picus admonished bouncers who confiscated the drug GHB from punters, and said: “I’m going to read Edwin [the head of security] the riot act. They’re taking our boys’ GHB away.”
Sharp said Pikus’ alleged behaviour was “extremely disturbing” and that when he brought this concerns to Fluet, the other co-founder, he was “dismissive”.
Sharp is alleging unfair dismissal. Pikus has since reportedly been forced out of The Q.
In an interview with NPR, Sharp said that the club was created to be an open and welcoming space for queer people from all walks of life.
“That’s why we called it ‘The Q’. As if the most all-inclusive and exhaustive letter had been plucked from the acronym LGBTQ and hung on the marquee,” said Sharp.
Sharp is also suing co-founder Fluet, claiming that he turned a blind eye to Picus’ alleged behaviour. Fluet has denied this.
Fluet released a statement on The Q’s Instagram page (5 July) addressing the allegations made by Sharp.
“While we vehemently deny the hurtful allegations that have recently surfaced, we are committed to end the very division within our community that Q’s programming and mission were designed to combat,” said Fluet.
Luis Fernando, who was hired as The Q’s executive producer after Pikus’ exit, apologised to patrons who experienced discrimination at The Q and promised that there would be “structural change”.
Fernando also revealed that the nightclub had donated $10,000 to Destination Tomorrow a LGBTQ+ charity located in the Bronx for disenfranchised queer people.
Fernando stated that these are “stepping stones” to working on the issues at The Q but affirmed to patrons that The Q is their “space” and the “future Q will leave no doubt to that”.
PinkNews contacted Allan Pikus and Bob Fluet for comment.