Frank Ocean still hasn’t played any live shows in years. But last night, he hosted a club night in New York City called PrEP+ — “an homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) — which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDs for those who are not infected but are at high risk — had been invented in that era.”
Today, Ocean has shared a statement on Tumblr addressing criticisms of the event, including corporate sponsorship and historical erasure of the AIDS crisis. He says that PrEP+ was funded independently by Blonded, not by Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company that holds the patent for PrEP. He also goes into more detail about the idea behind the theme:
Not funded by Gilead Sciences
Funded by Blonded, independently
Let’s just get that out of the way.
Club culture around late 70s and 80s nightlife in NYC was a special, much talked about and written about thing. From the star studded midtown clubs like studio 54 and the first danceteria to the downtown clubs like Mudd + paradise garage. The figures, the music, the looks, the lack of regulation haha. I recognize NY wasn’t all lasers and disco lighting and that simultaneously, there was a lot of crime and poverty and that a huge part of club culture, the gay community, at that time were being wiped out by HIV + AIDS. Now in 2019, there’s a pill you can take every day that will at a better than 90% chance prevent you from contracting HIV. This pill was approved by the FDA in 2012. The pricing strategy behind it is malicious in my opinion and so it’s public perception is marred and rightfully so. But the fact remains that despite price being a very real barrier to this potentially life saving drug for some, the other very real barrier is awareness. I decided to name, what was otherwise going to be a night of lights and music inspired by an era of clubbing that I loved PrEP+ because while designing the club which is inside of an old glass factory basement in Queens (shoutout to The Basement that runs a very awesome techno night on Fridays after us) I started to imagine in an era where so many lives were lost and so much promise was lost forever along with them, what would it have been like if something, anything had existed that in all probability would’ve saved thousands and thousands of lives. I’m an artist, it’s core to my job to imagine realities that don’t necessarily exist and it’s a joy to. A couple days before we threw the party, I was discussing this subject with my team and one of the architects I work with thought that PrEP as a drug had reached ‘100% saturation’ so far as awareness. I thought he was dead wrong so I asked a friend (who I won’t name haha) if he knew what PrEP was and his response was ‘isn’t that some type of viagra or something’. My ex who I was with for several years didn’t know about it when we first met at a gay club in LA. Awareness isn’t always what we’d hope it would be. But anyway, I’m ranting. I’m happy that folks are talking about the subject in the first place. Thank you to everyone who came out and danced with us last night. Y’all were beautiful and the energy was right! Thank you Bouffant Bouffant, Sango, Justice and Sherelle for your sets last night they were soo good man. Oh one more thing, I saw someone say that this was a PR stunt etc etc, pshhh bitch pls come get a drink next time and I’ll put several barstools out so you can have as many seats as you need. All my love everybody really. Stay safe.
PrEP+ was held at the Knockdown Center in Queens. Bouffant Bouffant, Sango, and Sherelle all DJed, with Justice coming through for a surprising headlining set. Frank himself might have even debuted some new music, and although no photos or videos were allowed at the event, you can check out some brief clips below.
ANOTHER NEW FRANK OCEAN SONG pic.twitter.com/q6DJZa5wWm
— kurco (@kurcobanee) October 18, 2019
frank ocean played at least two new songs last night at PrEP+ pic.twitter.com/RHxp2KEEjK
— hannah (@iIovetonaenae) October 18, 2019