1. Studio 54 was “the Seventies” in a nightclub
The ’70s were a crazy time. Economic inflation, the Vietnam War, and women’s rights were taking the country by the horns and pulling it to and fro. But it was also a time of wild parties, hyper-self expression, and experimentation. And no where was this better epitomized than at New York’s Studio 54.
The club’s doors opened in 1977 and stayed opened until 1980. Within those three short years, Studio 54 would go down in history as being the quintessential exclusive nightclub, featuring a guest list that was a real who’s who in the biz. Hittin’ the club often meant rubbing elbows with the biggest stars in the game. Sorry, you’re not on the list…but you might recognize some people that were.
2. Cher was a frequent patron
Though the infamous club was only open for three short years, it garnered much attention from A-list celebrities. Nestled in New York City’s 8th and Broadway, Studio 54 was a place of anonymity and strived for a “care-free” environment which made it a haven for celebrities such as the Goddess of Pop herself. It was a place where she could visit without the screaming fans and flashing lights of the paparazzi.
Above Cher is all smiles as she holds her pup in the chaos of people, music, and drinks. On her lower right is what looks like a bill and checkbook. Could she be wrapping up the night? With the kind of excitement brimming in her eyes, it’s pretty clear that this diva isn’t going anywhere until sunrise.
3. Liza Minnelli made fun of someone’s shoes
Rumors spread fast about the hedonistic theater turned club, and it soon earned itself a seedy reputation. Whispers spread about the club and its owners (Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager). One of them suggested they were hosting nightly orgies and laced the ventilation system with ‘snow’ throughout the club. There were even rumors that there were underground tunnels connecting the club through New York’s subway system.
Whichever the case, everyone was having a good time. Liza Minnelli is a perfect example as she’s seen on the dance floor in a pair of classic bell-bottom jeans. In this particular photo, Minnelli is seen pointing at a club goer’s platform shoes, He asked her to dance prior, however, after insulting his footwear, it’s safe to say that they didn’t tear up the dance floor together. Better luck next time buddy. But she’s dressed pretty casually compared to our next frequent club patron.
4. Grace Jones showed up in elaborate costumes
The ’70s were a ‘feel good’ time. When times were rough, Studio 54 was a place to forget about the outside world. With inflation at it’s worst, many people were unemployed, the stock market was a mess, and people were just miserable. But, a ray of light breaks through the dark clouds and it shines down on the dancing harem of the eclectic, strange, or wealthy.
Grace Jones refers to herself as a “warrior,” and for good reason? A model, singer, songwriter, and producer? She’s a triple threat. Jones often frequented in Studio 54 and would peruse the floor with her eccentric garbs. With her fishnet purple top and gilded sunglasses, she glitters as vibrantly as a disco ball. A fashion icon, Jones was well known for her forward-thinking trends, fashion, and fiery tenacity in her art.
5. Because it wouldn’t be a party without Michael Jackson
Before you say “that is not Michael Jackson,” guess again. That my friend is Michael Jackson in his full 1978 glory, complete with afro and disco garb. The photo suggests Jackson in movement, as does the rest of the people behind him with the lights in a continuous blur in the background.
A lot has changed before the singer becomes a legendary pop singer and superstar. Little does he know that his presence will change how many views and listen to music, inspiring future artists and forever immortalizing the moonwalk. The 1970s was a decade of transition, change, and liberation, and nowhere was that better represented than Studio 54.
6. Bette Midler gives into temptation when meeting the Temptations
Is it just my imagination (see what we did there?) or is that Bette Midler greeting the Temptations? They surely know how to “Treat Her Like A Lady,” — the way they clasp hands and “Get Ready” to have a good time. Okay, okay, stopping now. But how can you resist when you have “My Girl” Bette Midler enter the dancing scene and not make a Temptation pun or two?
But seriously, when we mentioned Studio 54 being the ultimate party house, we meant it. A place of celebration and jubilation, Midler congratulates the soul group for signing a new contract with Atlantic Records. Thereafter they would produce albums such as, “Hear to Tempt You,” and “Bare Back.”
7. Bianca Jagger riding with the “Wild, Wild Horse(s)”
So if the celebrities and the hype don’t impress you, then maybe try this on for size: every night at Studio 54 was wild (as you already know). It was there that we see the iconic bouncer with a clipboard in his hands and gives each patron the thumbs up or down based on your attitude and your wardrobe.
What they also made famous was having a live horse rage behind its doors and letting Bianca Jagger ride it bareback like Lady-freaking-Godiva (without the birthday suit). The then wife and muse of Mick Jagger, Bianca is seen casually ridding her magnificent white steed, led by a naked man covered in body paint and glitter. Yeah (or should we say neigh?), it was that wild.
8. David Bowie was all about the grand entrance
If you think it’s hard getting into an exclusive club today, try being a top celebrity and being denied any kind of access to New York’s disco scene. Let’s take a moment to mourn those who were unable to get through the velvet rope of Studio 54: Waren Beatty, Henry Winkler, and Nile Rodgers. Yes, Nile Rodgers!
The same musician who released “Le Freak.” He didn’t write the hit song until after he was denied access. But we’re not here to talk about the irony of Studio 54’s strict entry policy, we’re here to talk Bowie. Although Bowie was almost shoo-ed away from the club doors, one of the club owners corrected the error and quickly ushered the singer to enjoy the heated festivities. No wonder he’s all smiles.
9. That time Paloma Picasso whispered in Debbie Harry’s ear
Can we just talk about how foxy each one of these beautiful women is? On the far left, we are blessed by Jerry Hall’s side profile; the center is the relaxed profile belonging to Blondie front woman, Debbie Harry, and finally, graced by the mischievous ghost of a smile hidden behind the glove, is the jewelry designer Paloma Picasso.
Talk about a triple threat! It’s like we have all the components to make one hell of a story. Though it’s not quite certain what the daughter of the famed cubist painter, Pablo Picasso, was whispering in the musician’s ear, judging by her expression and Jerry Hall’s mirth, it has to be something sly and gloriously juicy. Or maybe she’s complimenting her velvet scarf?
10. Mick and Bianca Jagger make a royal appearance
Besides being the former wife of rock and roll icon Mick Jagger, Bianca Jagger has her own impressive repertoire as a human rights activist and former actress. But here’s the million dollar question: where do you throw a birthday bash for a badass feminist? Why, throw it at the most happenin’ club in New York.
Bianca Jagger was by no means shy in front of a camera, and she looks comfortable in this particular photograph where she’s seen celebrating her 32nd birthday at Studio 54 in 1977. On her left is dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and on her right is—hello!— Mr.Get-No-Satisfaction himself, Mick Jagger. Bianca is the true dancing queen.
11. Brooke Shields and Mariel Hemingway sharing laughs
We think Brooke Shields and we think about the beautiful model who graced the front cover of Vogue and her unforgettable role in “Blue Lagoon.” But, once upon a time, before Brooke Shields was worshiped for her voluminous brows and pouty lips, she was blooming into adolescence in one of the most exciting decade in history.
Only twelve years old in this photo (someone fire that doorman) being a young model gets her access to the most exclusive events in the city. And who would she chose to be her partner-in-crime? None other than the grand-daughters of the most famous writers in American history? Yes, that Hemingway. Mariel (seen right) grows up to be a famous actress and beauty icon. In case you’re wondering, that’s a soda in her hand, not an underage adult drinking a gin and tonic (no seriously).
12. And can we get a warm welcome for First Lady Betty Ford
The last person you would expect to walk into a place like Studio 54 would be a priest, let alone the First Lady, however, miracles do happen. Three generations of women from different backgrounds are present here in one photo. Left is “Cabaret” singer, Liza Minnelli, Queen of Macedonia, Elizabeth Taylor, and First Lady (and the nation’s best tap-dancer) Betty Ford.
Though their professions may differ in slight alteration, all three women have a similar past sharing the spotlight, and it’s good to see that nothing’s changed. Garbed in glittering sequins, their dresses speak for their hosts. They’re there for a good time, plain and simple. It looks like Liza may be making her point as she is in deep conversation with the First Lady.
13. The lone stallions are ready to get their groove on
Dearly departed, we are gathered here today to mourn for those whose hearts stopped beating after mistakenly looking directly into the gaze of Tony Manero — uh, John Travolta. Let us also not forget the brave souls who have unwittingly had the courage to sustain major injury after crashing into the glorious jawline belonging to Sylvester Stallone. May they all rest in peace.
Joking aside, John Travolta made disco iconic after his performance in “Saturday Night Fever.” The movie was a global phenomenon that fed the masses the Bee Gees and taught them all what it means to stay alive. Then let’s not forget Stallone in his equally famous film “Rocky.” These two kings can walk into any joint and it would instantly be transformed into a palace. Here’s the dynamic duo passing through the club’s doors in 1977.
14. That’s Ms. Dolly Parton to you
So, this explains the horse Bianca Jagger was ridding earlier in the previous pages. When it was clear that Dolly Parton was going to grace her magnificence at the notorious club, club owner Steve Rubell wanted the Queen of Country to feel at home. So, he calls up a local stable and brings in the famous white horse which Dolly obviously adored.
Don’t think this precious ‘stang was the only animal in Studio 54. Other animals came to join the action such as other horses, chickens, and mules. All of which was running around the club becoming their own celebrities for the night. They even had a wagon filled with hay and a wine barrel filled with corn decorating the club as well. A lil’ sumthin’ for everyone.
15. The Supreme Diana Ross knows how to cut loose
When asked “Where Did Our Love Go?” look no further! It’s embodied in the fiery steps of Diana Ross. Her face screams a good time (the guy behind her doesn’t seem to be screaming, let alone having a good time). A frequent patron at the club, Diana was seen in the DJ booth singing her heart out or dancing.
Everyone came together for one last hurrah before the doors closed for good. Diana Ross serenaded the club owners, while Liza Minnelli sang a show-stopping “New York, New York.” Though the doors were closed, people will never forget the flashing lights, the scandalous attire, and the energetic beat of the music.
16. The basement was basically a proverbial champagne room
We’re bet you’re wondering when we’ll talk about the salacious events that took place behind the proverbial closed doors of Studio 54. So far, all we’re seeing is everyone having a good time. Well, that depends on what you call a good time. There are three levels to the infamous Studio 54. There’s the dance floor (respectfully) and then…there’s the basement.
According to Rolling Stone, a lot of lewd things happened in the basement. Amongst the stored props and rolled up rugs, there were security guards circling the area like sharks keeping pervy eyes away from what went on down there. All you have to know is that there were a lot of sweaty people both coming in and out of a secluded corner.
17. Liz Taylor’s birthday bash
Let’s talk about what we’re looking at. Sure, we can say this is none other than the goddess of the silver screen, the violet-eyed dame who’s charmed every male in Hollywood from George Hamilton, John Warner, and even David Bowie. It’s no surprise that a superstar icon like Liz couldn’t stay too far away from the spotlight, and she graces her presence at none other than Studio 54.
Celebrating her 46th birthday, she’s seen with a line of women circling a silk-clad sofa with a sheet cake with her face in the center. What a way to celebrate! But what’s this? Look closer and you’ll see a knife lodged dead center of her chest, right above her heart. Is it a coincidence that she died of heart failure in 2011? Talk about foreshadowing.
18. What happens when you put Keith Richards, James Brown, and John Belushi in the same photo?
Sweet mayhem, that’s what. As the lines outside Studio 54 stretch by the block, clogging traffic and teasing patrons waiting just outside its doors, celebrities like these three below turn heads and caused a photo frenzy. Below you’ll see Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard mid-laugh as his shoulder is brought in by the arms of James Brown.
And who’s that narrow-eyed fellow on the right? Why that’s none other than John Belushi. Yes, even the “Animal House” star made an appearance to Studio 54 before his untimely death in 1982. We have no doubt the reason Richards is giving a chuckle had to be something Belushi said.
19. Robin Williams looks pensive next to Andy Warhol
We’re fairly certain many of you are looking at this photo with a broken heart. Yes, that is indeed the future Mrs. Doubtfire sitting on that couch; but until then he is our beloved comedian and Mork from the hit sitcom, Mork and Mindy. Oh, and what’s this? Who’s that sitting at the far right?
Why that would be Andy Warhol with Valerie Velardi (William’s first wife). They sit close while having an intimate conversation, trying to communicate through the bass of the loud music. Williams, on the other hand, looks a little lonely on that couch. We wonder what he’s thinking.
20. Richard Gere wore his sunglasses at night before it was cool
Here’s the thing, Richard Gere is a fox, pre and post “Pretty Woman.” Can we expect anything less from the man who had made many swoons as Julian in “The American Gigolo?” Should we expect anything less than him making his stud appearance in one of the city’s best clubs? We didn’t think so.
Above you can see Richard Gere clad in a tweed suit and sporting some croc boots. Who’s the pretty lady he’s dancing with? Judy Licht, an entertainment journalist. If there’s a party going on in NYC, she’s going to be there. And you best believe she’ll be there with a little arm candy to boot. Looks like an epic night.
21. A perfect duet
As we all know, Liza Minnelli is born for the spotlight. You combine that with a duet with Bianca Jagger and you can expect a forecast of sunshine and 100% chance of awesomeness. It’s a thrill to see such a sexy time such as the seventies showcased in color, and my, what color.
Above, Minnelli looks dashing in a red gown, microphone in hand while sitting next to classy and fab, Bianca who fashions a purple fur frock and an iris. She’s anticipating her cue as she holds the microphone in her hand. Of course, Andy Warhol has to be there. Sources say Warhol would make weekly visits to the club, capturing every moment with his camera.
22. Jerry Hall lookin’ fabulous
Jerry Hall knows how to draw in a crowd, let alone the camera. Need we say how? This is not a photo-opt, this is all Hall and all her glory. Poised on an ottoman like she’s modeling for Dolce and Gabbana, tossing her long, silky hair back, Jerry lived a life of glamour despite her struggled upbringing, which you can see here.
Here, she’s surrounded by men (because, hello) wearing a full lace bodysuit leaves little for the imagination. Still, Hall seems to pull it off with class and appears to be having a geniunly good time…which is always a good look.
23. Bianca Jagger makin’ doves cry
Look, Bianca Jagger is a goddess. Club owner Steve Rubell made sure only the best of the best could come into his club. At one point he stood outside and objectively ruled who could and could not enter. The reason as to why people dressed so outlandishly to Studio 54 was for the sole purpose of grabbing the club owner’s attention.
Needless to say, Bianca Jagger needs no eccentric or crafty costume to get into the club…she just needs a couple of doves and a gold crown. Pretty obvious, you know? Can we take a moment to appreciate how well mannered and tamed those doves are? It’s like they know they’re in the presence of unearthly beauty.
24. Robin Williams knows how to show his wife a good time
Who can’t get enough of Robin Williams? Before we have pensive Williams, now we have one more to his normal likeliness. Dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and holding his beloved’s hand, they both look like they’re just arriving fresh and ready to get their groove on. More so Robin, who looks like he’s already making a couple of moves.
Thankfully these two will be together well after the club closes and both have their first child, Zachary Pym Williams in 1983. By then, Robin Williams will star in movies like “Popeye” and “The World According to Garp.” May he rest in peace.
25. Elton John’s side burn game
Everyone take a deep breath and exhale. Yes, the man on the left is Elton John wearing a baseball cap and…sideburns. Dead center wearing a very “of the decade” leopard print dress, is Alana Hamilton and her future hubby, Rod Stewart. Walking into Studio 54 arm to arm, you can tell Alana is ready for what awaits at the dance floor.
But what’s strange is seeing Sir Elton John without his colored eyewear and flamboyant garments. It’s in this photo that the trio arrives at Studio 54 in celebration for John signing a contact label with RCA records. Thereafter he’ll push albums such as “A Single Man” (1978) and “Victim of Love” (1979).
26. Not just celebrities
Aside from the celebrities and the *coughs* secret basement, the club had other features that had people flocking to its doors. One of which was its entertainment. From the opening party celebrating the premiere of “Grease” to scantily clad men riding motorcycles, Studio 54 knows how to host a party and entertain their guests.
In this charming black and white photo of lithe women, spectators watch in awe as dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre take control of the New York Club. The company performed one of its works “Suite Otis” on a Monday night on November 20, 1979. It just goes to show that the club owners spared no expense to meet its expectations.
27. There was always something wild happening
If the dancers weren’t enough, try acrobats, and live bands. colored balloons fell from ceiling nets and women danced topless or in see-through garments in the heat of the music. Somewhere in the balcony is a rapture of laughter, along with much lewder acts. Not only did Studio 54 have a secluded basement, but they also had a rubber room.
Try not to think too hard, it’s pretty much what you’re imagining. Somewhere in the balconies is a specific area that is covered with rubber because it was supposedly “easier to clean.” Easier to clean what exactly? We rather not know, but it just goes to show that maybe all those rumors people kept whispering about may just be…well, true.
28. Sylvester Stallone, the ladies’ man
We saw him strolling with John Travolta, now he’s close and cozy with Joyce Ingalls, the actress known for her roles such as “Paradise Alley” (whom she and Stallone co-starred) and “The Man Who Would Not Die.” It seems anyone who frequents Studio 54 is either there already knowing somebody, or there to get to know somebody.
It was during this time that the Stallone was praised for his brilliant performance in “Rocky” and is loving the limelight. It was also during this time that the actor was married to bombshell beauty Sasha Czack. Stallone would later go on to produce films such as “Rocky II” and in 1982, “First Blood.”
29. Elton John is having a slight wardrobe malfunction
Compared to the earlier photograph where John enters with Alana Hamilton and Rod Stewart, this image of (Sir) Elton John is more familiar and more up to his speed. Sporting an all matching ensemble with geometric patterns, he’s looking swift with his winged cap that calls upon the messenger of the gods.
This particular evening is in the honor of his album release “A Single Man” which was released on October 16, 1978. The photo above shows our beloved Elton John lifting up his pants so he too can join in on the dance and festivities. How often can you say a whole establishment was opened specifically for your honor? Not very often.
30. “Disco Sally” wasn’t afraid to live her best life
Who says partying is only meant for the young and sprite? They obviously never heard of Sally Lippman, also known as ‘Disco Sally.’ Sure, the faces of Studio 54 are often fresh and dewy, dripping with vitality, and gyrating hips, but really, the real hero at the nightclub is hands down the famous old biddy who, after becoming a widow, decided to live her best life.
When her husband died, Sally was beside herself. Not knowing what to do with her free time, a girlfriend recommended that she visit Studio 54 “just to see what it’s all about.” Sally took her advice along with a friend. They manage to get in, and the manager loved her presence and granted her access whenever she wanted. “I didn’t dance for 50 years because my husband didn’t like it.” Her husband gone, she tossed caution and age to the wind and danced to make up for all those lost years.