On the surface, Studio 54 seemed like a bright and happy place. Somewhere that the famous could go to relax and party. But in actually, it hid a darkness, a depravity only seen by those that worked in its underbelly. And these are some of those secrets, spectacularly colorized.
The Rubber Room
Everyone knows about the famous dance floor. You could dance with famous actors like John Travolta or Elton John. However, there were parts of the club that the average person just wasn’t allowed to see. One of the most wild areas was the “Rubber Room”. It was a private room above the balcony covered in rubber to make cleaning it easier. For a similar experience, VIPs would also head to the basement. Rumors say that the co-owners would supply the room with mattresses as well, just in case someone needed a little bit of “rest”.
The Village People
In 1977, all the different styles and subsets of people began to mix within New York City. It didn’t matter if they were gay, straight, working class, or wealthy, everyone was welcomed to Studio 54. It was the only place you could see the Village People hanging out with Michael Jackson and Bruce Jenner.
Mother And Daughter
This isn’t the only mother-daughter pair on this list that attended Studio 54. Although, it’s probably the most appropriate. Pictured here is Jamie Lee Curtis accompanying her mother, Janet Leigh, to Studio 54. They’re even wearing matching outfits. Curtis was a lot closer with her mother than her father, but it’s still crazy to see someone going out clubbing with one of their parents.
He Never Danced Once
In its golden years, everyone that was anyone would make an appearance at Studio 54. It was practically a right of passage. So, it’s not too surprising that one of those patrons was Donald Trump. According to Ian Schrager, the co-owner of the club, no one ever asked for autographs so the celebrities could just be themselves. People like Mick Jagger and Diana Ross were amazing on the floor, but he never saw Trump dance once, calling him “a serious guy”.
The 1970s Party Girl
In her early days as a model, Jerry Hall’s rise was practically parallel to the rise of Studio 54. She was a classic 1970s party girl and was a regular at the club. Around the same time, Mick and Bianca Jagger got married, and also began frequenting the club. While it’s hard to say for sure, it seems as though Hall drove a wedge between Mick and Bianca. This is made even more apparent by the fact that Mick started dating Jerry the same year the Jaggers separated.
The Royal Treatment
Being a star at Studio 54 was tantamount to being royalty. Co-owner, Steven Rubell was well aware that, in order to keep their famous clients coming back, it would be important to keep them happy. It’s also help to drum up positive publicity. As a result, they resorted to a few underhanded tactics. One celebrity, who opted to remain anonymous, mentioned how Steve would give his friends a quaalude, drink, and even a bartender. They also mentioned the copious amounts of sex happening in the club, all over the place.
Dustin Hoffman At The 54
Dustin Hoffman in the ’70s was best known for his more wholesome status. However, even he got out his vices at this club. He confessed to sleeping with multiple women in public places, including at the club.
Being Raised In A Club
Jamie Lee Curtis visiting Studio 54 with her mother was bizarre, but not necessarily reprehensible. But Drew Barrymore being taken their by her mother had to be a terrible idea. The doors to the club were open to her before she was even ten years old. Barrymore revealed in a 2018 interview with Norm MacDonald that her mother would ask her if she wanted to go to Studio 54 or be bullied at school. Of course, Barrymore wanted to go to Studio 54 every time.
Shocking Things To Say
Ian Schrager described Andy Warhol as a shy guy at the club. He seemed to be more of a wallflower. However, he was still a regular, and seemed to use his frequent visits as a way to get dirt on some of the other club regulars. He always seemed to have something shocking to say. With all the drugs and sex happening at the club, Warhol said the club became more like Pagan Rome every day.
Just a year before Studio 54 became the huge club it would be, Sylvester Stallone had revived his career by portraying Rocky in the 1976 film of the same name. The club was struggling around the time, so the owners ended up paying a finders fee to Joanne Horowitz for every celebrity she could get to visit the club. She got paid $250 for each time they appeared on the cover of a major newspaper. $150 if they appeared on the inside. At one point, Stallone had been photographed with his girlfriend, not his wife. Clearly, he was not pleased by this fact.
Hugh Hefner On The Floor
High Hefner, the founder of Playboy, would of course feel at home in a place like Studio 54. His Bunny Clubs were nice and all, but they weren’t places one could really dance. Bill Farley, Hefner’s former publicist, actually spoke of the differences between Studio 54 and the Bunny Clubs to Vanity Fair. Notably was the mention of he loud music and amount of drugs done within the clubs.
Tina Turner Lights It Up
Tina Turner would go to Studio 54 to escape her harsh and stressful life. She had just ended things were her then-husband, Ike Turner, and wanted a night out. As it was for other celebrities, Studio 54 was a haven for people looking for personal freedom. She was safe from the harsh real world and could just have fun. Unfortunately, that all ended when the sun came up.
Elton John: Heartbreaker
Being on the dance floor of Studio 54, but as mentioned earlier there were many secret rooms and areas. One regular, Elton John, actually admitted to breaking a few hearts in those areas. In one downstairs area, he spoke of lines of coke and pinball machines, with all kinds of politicians and entertainers in the place. At one point, Liza Minelli approached him and asked him to marry her. Much to her chagrin, John bolted out of the room.
Debbie Harry’s Rocker Life
As the lead singer of Blondie, most of Debbie Harry’s nights were taken up with performances. However, even she had a few memorable trips to Studio 54. Or, more accurately, a few nights with hazy memory. She would get drunk and not exactly remember what she did. Although, one time she attended a party held by Andy Warhol for Interview magazine. She even met Truman Capote, although she was too starstruck to speak.
No Strangers To Partying
With what we know about Saturday Night Live now, it’s crazy to think that the older cast members were popular enough to be marked as VIPs at Studio 54. When the show would end, the party would always lead the cast to Studio 54. Everyone just wanted to be around the SNL cast members. They were like the kings of comedy. However, it’s believed that the cast preferred to stick with each other and stay in the “Rubber Room”.
Bianca Jagger And Her White Horse
This is a true testament to how insane things could get at Studio 54. Bianca Jagger once rode through the club on this absolutely gorgeous horse. Or at least that’s how the story goes. Bianca, herself, has said that the story is far from true. Apparently a white horse that was in the club reminded her of a horse she owned, herself. So, she decided to ride on it for a few minutes. As an animal rights activist, she finds the idea that she would actually ride through a club on a horse offensive.
Jerry Hall is Good In Gold
While Jerry Hall allegedly broke up the Jaggers, she was still new to her own fame and fortune. She admitted that she was often overwhelmed by the number of celebrities she ran into at the club, even in her “party girl” state.
Robin Williams Darker Past
Robin Williams’ “dark past” is rather well-documented. He started going to Studio 54 pretty early on in his acting career. Apparently, despite all the other people at the club that did cocaine, Williams was the only one that did it so much he actually drew people’s attention. The early years, according to Mark Fleischman, who purchased the club from its original owners, were fueled by cocaine.
It was barely a secret that Studio 54 was a place of debauchery. And anyone that made it past the velvet ropes into Studio 54 would receive instruction on how to live that kind of life. Apparently, the actress, model, and singer Grace Jones wasn’t complete without “hitting the slopes”. She called doing a bump of cocaine as more “festive” than “social” at the time.
The drag queen Divine seemed to have been made for life at Studio 54. A star of several John Waters cult films, everyone wanted to be around Divine. The assumption was that, if you were allowed in the club, then you were cool. The club really didn’t care who you were or what you did, as long as you checked yourself at the door.
Stunning On The Dance Floor
But of course, no matter how good a place Studio 54 was for people to just party, the main draw was always the celebrities. It was the only place people could actually be near the celebrities they idolized. Just imagine, standing next to Cher in this outfit. Or maybe even dancing with her and all the beautiful people in the club.
Shutting Down The Dance Floor
The person that proved to be the most constant presence in the club though was Liza Minelli. Even as things began going downhill, she was practically deemed essential personnel for helping the club run. But, in 1978, the original club owners went to jail for embezzling 80% of the profits from their club. And yet, they received one of the biggest going away parties of all time, serenaded by Diana Ross and Minnelli, herself.
Single Day Catering
With all the famous people at the club, it’d be surprising to find out that Studio 54 never actually had a liquor license. Most people were taking something else anyway, and they technically didn’t need a license to have a functioning club. Instead they bought single day catering licenses. But it didn’t take too long before the authorities caught onto how many of these catering licenses the club had been purchasing.
Studio 54 came about right when stars actually became recognized as celebrities. And that’s what made the club such a big draw. According to Schrager, “Any celebrity that came into New York made a stop on The Tonight Show, then made a stop at Studio 54. That’s just the way it was.”
Iman And David Bowie
There is at least one good thing that happened at Studio 54 though. In the ’70s and ’80s, David Bowie was known to be more of a mad man. He’d prowl the streets and just get up to all kinds of bad business. But it was after Bowie met Iman, the “Rebel Rebel” singer, his life finally turned around.