Fuelled by a cocktail of drink, drugs and sexual liberation, Studio 54 became a mecca for the wealthy and well known across the world.
This disco fuelled snapshot will resonate with anyone who ever strove to break the mould. Opened at an eventual cost north of $700,000, Studio 54 became the pinnacle of Seventies chic seemingly overnight. It superseded all comers in a cavalcade of glitter balls, celebrity faces and ostentatious overindulgence which blazed away for 33 months before quietly imploding. Fuelled by a cocktail of drink, drugs and sexual liberation, Studio 54 became a mecca for the wealthy and well known across the world.
Directior Matt Tyrnauer has pieced together those flamboyant beginnings under the guidance of Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, employing talking heads and stock footage. He concisely documents their unlikely friendship in college through to the burgeoning epiphany which created this landmark nightclub with care. Candid shots taken by approved photographers combine with in club footage which goes some way to illustrate the decadence which was actively encouraged. Much is made of their differing personalities which greased those wheels in the beginning. Schrager forever the introverted silent partner who provided stability; Rubell the social butterfly who kept those celebrities coming.
Million dollar refurbishments maintained Studio 54’s exclusivity, justified the ambiguous door policy and concreted a social movement of such popularity that reality took a back seat. Excess in every sense became their lifestyle mantra as sexual promiscuity, illegal substances and bundles of cash led to a detachment which was fully indulged. Tyrnauer may revel in these moments as do various regulars who light up during those recollections, where gender, status and restrictions no longer applied. However his love for the subject never waters down the fall out which brought their house down.
As the disco bubble burst and the press, White House and world at large jumped on the bandwagon Studio 54 turned from a watch word for cool, to something considered nefarious and underhand. Both men claimed ignorance while their survival instincts once incarcerated saw them do anything to reduce jail time. As a halcyon flashbulb of disco excess in an uninhibited Seventies heyday, Studio 54 pulses, enthrals and engages without judgement. Featuring everyone from Sylvester Stallone to a very young Michael Jackson this is what true power and real celebrity looked like, before the days of internet saturation, bubble bursting mystique and You Tubers playing the Hammersmith Odeon.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Matt Tyrnauer
Written by: n/a
Starring: Steve Rubell, Ian Schrager
Studio 54: The Documentary was released by Dogwoof on August 6, 2018.