You might have heard the wild stories that came out of Studio 54 from your parents, colleagues, or commentators on 70s culture. It was only open for two and a half years, but in that short time, it became one of the most exclusive clubs in the 70s.
While the clubs were a dime a dozen in Manhattan, because of its exclusivity and its impressive celebrity client list, everyone wanted to be seen at Studio 54. What happened inside the club spawned legends and long-winded tales of excessive drug use and epic partying.
The common thread these stories share? The level of debauchery that ensued inside among the biggest names in the entertainment industry like John Travolta, Michael Jackson and even a FLOTUS.
Click the next slide to see the wildest times shared by the elite at Studio 54.
12. Olivia Newton-John Hooks Up With John Travolta
Singer Olivia Newton-John shot to fame after she appeared in the 1978 movie musical “Grease.” Her image was coalesced by her role as goody-two-shoes transfer student Sandy, but at Studio 54, she hit the dance floor and locked hips with her then co-star John Travolta.
Think this is wild? Check out slide #10.
11. Unlikely Friendships Forged By Drugs
The best part of Studio 54 is that it brought together different members of the Hollywood elite. Take this hang out between “SNL” member John Belushi, Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, and James Brown. Rumor has it the three of them fueled each other’s drug habits on the floor of Studio 54.
10. FLOTUS Partied Hard
When one thinks of clubs, you don’t think of anyone over the age of 30 attending, but we now know that Studio 54 wasn’t your run-of-the-mill club. As long as you were elite, you were welcomed there. Betty Ford, the former first lady of the United States, liked to party from time to time, and when she showed up to Studio 54 in this posh gown without her husband, heads turned.
Think this is a sight to see? Head on over to slide 7.
9. Trans Icons Are Welcomed
At Studio 54, among the elite were the people who were known as outcasts in society. Fortunately, they were welcomed at the club. Here’s a photo of fashion model and trans pop culture icon Potassa de la Faye partying on the dance floor. She often partied with Andy Warhol, another famous face on the scene.
8. The Man In The Mask
Rumors often ran rampant at Studio 54. Since it was a drug-fueled experience for many, there was a blurred line between what was real and what was fantasy, and most of that air of mystery transferred to the folks that got down in the club. One man who was pictured with a wrap over his face was said to have left the hospital after plastic surgery for some fun times at Studio 54. Others said he just decided to show up in a mask one day. The truth has never been confirmed.
7. Famous Recluse Michael Jackson Partied
Michael Jackson was infamously shy in the public eye, but when it came to letting loose in the club, Jackson went straight to Studio 54. This was an interesting time for Jackson as he was just coming into his own fame as a solo artist. Here he is pictured with a very youthful Liza Minnelli.
Think this is a wild combo? Wait until you get to #4.
6. Studio 54 Welcomed Heavyweight Boxers
Heavyweight champion Leon Spinks was smooth in the ring but in the days of Studio 54, the famous boxer proved that he could also cut a rug on the dance floor of the club. Here he is pictured showing everyone who’s boss on the dance floor by striking a few killer poses.
5. John Travolta Hangs With Rocky
Back in the day, John Travolta was known for his squeaky-clean image, so it was quite the sight to see when he was photographed with co-star Olivia Newton-John and other regular club goers at Studio 54. Here Travolta is pictured with Sylvester Stallone, who was also rising in the ranks thanks to his hit film “Rocky.”
4. Famous Politicians’ Offspring Clubbed, Too
Studio 54 wasn’t limited to just celebrities. Famous politicians, including their offspring, were welcomed to party at the club, too. One of the most notable faces was Jack Ford, who is the son of former president Gerald Ford. In this photo, he’s pictured having a beer with metal head Alice Cooper.
Hop on over to slide 2 to see the most amazing guest to party at Studio 54.
3. A Teenaged Brooke Shields Partied
In most clubs, you need to be 21 to get in, but if you’re a hot young starlet like Brooke Shields was at the time, that meant an immediate entrance. Shields said of her time partying at Studio 54 as a teen, “I’d leave before all the craziness and drugs happened. I never saw the bag passed around. Andy Warhol and all those guys were very sweet to me. There was something about me that they wanted to protect.”
2. The Legend Of Madonna Born At Studio 54
During the early days of her career, rumors ran rampant of Madonna’s sexual proclivities. Some of those stories of Madonna came out of the club scene. Before she was known as just Madonna, she was testing out her persona at Studio 54. At the time this picture was snapped she was still a member of the now-defunct band Breakfast Club.
1. Studio 54 Closes Its Doors
You may be wondering if this was such a happening club, then why was it closed after two and a half years? Well, the story goes the club was raided and co-owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were arrested and subsequently charged with tax evasion. Seems like the club just wasn’t meant to last.
After the club was closed down, co-owners Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell spent a little under a year in prison. When the two were released, they were back at it again and opened up another club in Manhattan called Palladium. Unfortunately, it never lived up to the glitz and glam of its predecessor. Even though Studio 54 was short-lived, it’s still one of the most iconic pieces of New York City history.
In 2017, Schrager plans to release a book about Studio 54. Now, instead of a drug den, the club is open as a theater and jazz club venue, but the space was virtually left untouched, making its charm and legend timeless.
What did you think of these images from the days of Studio 54?