Yo Gabba Gabba, Hip Hop Harry, Lil Yachty, and D.M.C of Run D.M.C. At first, it might seem odd to see these performers grouped together. But for Kerwin Frost and his big imagination, it makes perfect sense.
Frost, the fashion influencer slash DJ slash designer slash interviewer, has brought these acts together for the First Annual Kerwin Frost Telethon Supershow that will be streaming live from Los Angeles skatepark, The Berrics, this Sunday on TikTok LIVE, YouTube, and Twitch. It’s purpose, aside from educating his audience about racial injustice, is to raise $5 million for Colin Kaepernick and radio personality Nessa’s Know Your Rights Camp. It will run like a traditional telethon with stars participating in performances, interviews, and skits.
“My wife and I work really, really closely on everything. We're attached at the hip. And with the telethon, we saw everything that was going on and that's been going on. And we were just like, ‘How could we do something?’ It got to a point where we felt helpless. We felt like we didn't know what the right thing to do was,” Frost tells Complex over the phone. “For a lot of kids, and I think even artists as well, it's hard to even communicate what you want to say through social media, whether it's the classic Instagram story, black screens, or making a Twitter statement. People can't really feel that. With our projects, we like to bring all these cultures together and for the greater good and have this image of unity.”
He says that the setlist came together through personal phone calls. He hopes that his telethon can deliver the necessary information about racial injustice to viewers with a new energy that differs from the “grim” delivery we have become accustomed to. That’s why acts like Yo Gabba Gabba, an educational music show that aired from 2007 to 2015 with special cameos from artists like Erykah Badu and Mos Def, is participating. Frost says that he also wanted to reunite the cast for his one-year-old daughter Waffle. Yo Gabba Gabba! is her favorite show.
“When I do any of the projects that I do or anything, it really has to mean something to me, and it has to be something that I could show her when she's older. It really matters,” says Frost. “Being a dad and being able to track down the creators and bring back her favorite show, it's pretty amazing. I feel like you're never too young to learn about racism. As a dad, I don't want to be someone that just hides a bunch of truths.”
The telethon is not the only way Frost plans to achieve his high goal of $5 million though. Earlier this week, he dropped special merch in collaboration with Cactus Plant Flea Market featuring the brand’s signature puff print lettering and a special remix of its smiley face logo to resemble Frost’s face. All proceeds from the merch benefit the Know Your Rights Camp. CPFM’s Cynthia Lu also donated the smiley face mascot costume from the brand’s 2019 campaign with Nike. It will be up for auction along with other collectibles like a Star of David ring worn by Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems donated by the Safdie brothers and a dress worn by Post Malone during a Nirvana tribute concert.
“I wanted to make every item something that would be painful for me to auction, because it was so cool,” says Frost. “So for every person that was doing something for an auction, they would send one option and then I would really be like, ‘No, no, no. You got to do it like this.’”
Like Frost’s personal style, which has included everything from top hats to jumbo-sized clown shoes, his telethon is unconventional. But it doesn't take away from the his intent to educate the masses about a topic like racial injustice. As a Black creative in the fashion space, he just hopes this encourages his peers to continue to do more.
“A big goal for me is just to educate as much as possible through the segments. I know there's a little humor to them, but I really try to put good information in them. It's a new approach,” he says. “I hope this motivates other creatives that are in the same field and designers to do more than just a shirt. There's more that you can do. It could be a lot more, but at the same time, this is coming from an industry where it has been taboo to even live by that or even try to include it in their work. It's going to take time. I think regardless we're coming into a new chapter of awareness.”
For the unfamiliar, the telethon isn’t Frost’s first event–he hosted a film festival in March 2019 with the Safdies and has DJ’d countless festivals and parties over the past few years. He says his main goal is always to give the new generation of kids events to inspire them. Raised in Harlem and spending a lot of time in Soho as a teen,, he remembers events like Fool’s Gold Day Off or Fashion’s Night Out.
“Everything else I do is my form of bringing that to the kids. After Spaghetti Boys I just came to that conclusion,” Frost tells Complex. “I was like, ‘I just want to carry the torch and give the kids that.’ Whether it's noticed or not, storytelling is one of my favorite things.”
The telethon isn’t the only big work on the horizon for Frost either. His debut collection with Adidas, which was announced in January but delayed because of Covid-19, is due out, “super early next year.” Of course, it will be more than just new colors on shoes and clothes. Expect Frost’s imagination to be on full display.
“I push people to their limits and try to see how far I can get that's not over the line. Adidas has been amazing to work with and they're super down to let me create, and I've been working hand-in-hand with them. That's a whole other chapter that I did not acknowledge yet fully, but I’m really excited.”