Remarkably Rare Photos From The Infamous Studio 54
Opening Night at Studio 54
From its grand opening, Studio 54 was the place to be. The club opened on April 26th, 1977, and was an instant hit. It became an immediate staple in New York City nightlife and was frequented by a long list of celebrities that included Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Muhammad Ali, and many many more.
The club was housed in a former opera house on West 54th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The founders of Studio 54, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, set out to capture New York City nightlife in a way no one else had. Here is a behind the scenes look at some of Studio 54’s hidden secrets in these rarely seen photos.
Brooke Shields and Andy Warhol Hang Out at Studio 54
Studio 54 was a known hotspot for a variety of A-list celebrities, from actors to musicians to famous artists. This rare photo shows a star-studded group that includes actress Brooke Shields alongside the infamous pop artist Andy Warhol, designer Calvin Klein, and Steve Rubell, one of the co-owners of the club.
Brooke Shields was one of Warhol’s many muses and started hanging out at the nightclub when she was only 16. But according to the actress, she managed to stay drug-free and always make it to bed by 10 PM, even after mingling with the world’s most famous people.
Liza Minnelli and Bianca Jagger Release the Doves
Studio 54 was known for its energy and extravagance. This photo shows the club during one of its most iconic moments, as Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger release live white doves into the air above the crowd.
The photo was taken at Bianca’s 30th birthday party. The all-white event was hosted by the famous fashion designer, Halston, who was instrumental in creating many of the trends of the Studio 54-era. Steve Rubell even brought out a horse for Jagger to mount, after seeing a photo of her riding one in her native country of Nicaragua.
Michael Jackson and Steven Tyler After Beatlemania
From the very beginning, Studio 54 was always a destination for A-list celebrities. Nothing exemplifies that more than this photo of Michael Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Cherie Currie hanging out with Steve Rubell a few months after the club opened.
The photo was taken on June 9, 1977, at a Beatlemania Party, held in honor of the play of the same name that focused on the Beatles and their impact on the culture of the ‘60s. Also in attendance were Studio 54 regulars like Warhol and Mitch Weissman, who also starred in the play.
Elton John in Socks and Shorts
Another popular fixture of Studio 54 was the legendary singer-songwriter, Elton John. This photo shows that he was clearly comfortable in his surroundings, as he shows up at one of the hippest nightclubs in New York wearing shorts and ankle socks.
At the time that the photo was taken, the singer was still in the midst of a long streak of chart-topping albums, which began with Honky Chateau in 1972. So, he clearly had the confidence that he could wear anything and still be let in.
Disco Sally Hits the Dance Floor
Studio 54 was a place where anyone could let loose and unwind. This iconic photo of Sally Lippman, aka Disco Sally, shows that anyone could find love at the iconic nightclub.
Disco Sally was a 77-year old lawyer who became a Studio 54 regular after her husband passed away. A 25-year-old associate convinced her to check out the club and she ended up falling in love with the disco scene, claiming it gave her a new lease on life.
Rollerena Rolls In
Studio 54 wasn’t just a popular spot for New York’s cultural elite, it was also a club that welcomed all the characters that make the city great. No character on the scene was quite as memorable as Rollerena, a drag queen known for wearing roller skates all around New York.
Originally known as Roller Arena, the Fairy Godmother, Rollerena was well known for skating into gay bars and other popular clubs in Manhattan, including Studio 54, sporting an eclectic collection of hats, rhinestone glasses, and costume jewelry.
Trump Never Danced
Studio 54 was not just a place for actors and celebrities, but also business moguls and New York socialites. Former President Donald Trump was also a frequent guest in the heyday of the club, as shown here.
But unlike most guests, Trump wasn’t interested in showing off his dance moves. According to the club owner, Ian Schrager, Trump visited the club often but was only interested in socializing, not hitting the dance floor. Not everyone who frequented Studio 54 was there for the love of disco.
Grace Jones Hits the Bar
Singer and model Grace Jones was another frequent guest and performer at Studio 54. She famously performed at the club on New Year’s Eve in 1978. But even when she wasn’t hitting the stage, she could often be found frequenting the bar, as shown here.
Jones’s androgynous appearance and cutting-edge fashion sense helped define the look of the Studio 54-era. She was an accomplished singer, actor, and model who was an important figure in the underground art world of New York in the 70s and 80s. Here she is shown in her element, revealing what made the club so hip and iconic.
Police Raid Studio 54
Despite its iconic run, the original Studio 54 nightclub was only open for about three years. It was eventually shut down in February 1980, after the owners were found guilty of tax evasion. This photo shows Steve Rubell standing in the backroom after it was raided by police in 1978.
The search came after Steve was quoted in a local newspaper saying they made over $7 million in their first year. That got the attention of the IRS, and a police raid came shortly after. Both Rubell and Schrager were eventually arrested for tax evasion in 1979 and were forced to sell the club not long after.