Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson’

“STUDIO 54” My rating: B- 

98 minutes | No MPAA rating

The notorious New York disco Studio 54 was in operation only for 33 months nearly 40 years ago.

Yet its reputation as the ultimate nightspot — a place one former patron describes as “Carefree. Hot. Sexy” — lives on. One comes away from  Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary convinced that there was never another disco to equal it, and that there never will be.

The main claim to fame of this particular doc is the on-screen presence of Ian Schrager, who co-founded Studio 54 along with his college buddy, the late Steve Rubell, and ended up serving prison time with Rubell on tax evasion charges. This is the first time in 40 years that Schrager — who has carved out a post-prison career as a developer of boutique hotels — has submitted to interviews about his experiences, and it provides Tyrnauer’s film with a unique perspective.

Schrader was always the silent partner, the guy largely responsible for designing the club with its elaborate lighting and set elements (a night at Studio 54 was like a Broadway production in which the customers were the cast). He allowed the flamboyant and, initially anyway, closeted Rubell to serve as the club’s host and good will ambassador.

A former customers attest, the essence of the club was celebrity and total freedom.  The owners tried to get famous people into the doors and keep out the ugly and uninteresting (though if you were ugly in an interesting way you had a good shot at  getting in).  A list handed out to employees described who would be comped (Keith Richards and Mick Jagger got in free) and who had to pay (all other members of the Rolling Stones).

But the club was weirdly egalitarian. Along with celebs and millionaires it welcomed drag queens, persons of color (as long as they had something interesting to offer) and folks whose main claim to fame was that they looked good.


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