Bob Colacello Andre Leon, Steve Rubell, and Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger's Birthday Dinner, Mortimer's, 1981
"The key of the success of Studio 54 is that it's a dictatorship at the door and a democracy on the dance floor," club regular Andy Warhol once observed, and Steve Rubell ruled the velvet ropes with an iron fist.
Studio 54, which opened its doors 41 years ago tonight, had one rule: “Anyone who was allowed in was totally free inside.” Or so says a new documentary of the same name about the rise and fall of the legendary nightclub, which made its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this week. The illuminating biopic, directed by Matt Tyrnauer, not only pulls back the curtains on the club’s founders—Steve Rubell, the larger-than-life figurehead, and Ian Schrager, his modest, all-business counterpart—but also the infectious energy, unbridled excess, and astronomical star power that made it the Shangri-La of New York City in the late ’70s. And with its raw video footage of the packed, neon-lit dance floor, and deluge of iconic stills, from Diana Ross presiding over the DJ booth to Bianca Jagger arriving on a white horse, Studio 54 serves as a reminder that beyond the club’s velvet ropes, beauty thrived. In fact, it was a free-for-all.
There was hair, and lot’s of it, from the fanned-out waves of Mick Jagger and Farrah Fawcett, to Donna Summer’s cloud of disco curls, to Elton John’s feral brows and sideburns. Makeup, so long as it could stand the heat of the strobe lights and glistening partygoers, was also a more-is-more showcase. Lest anyone forget, famed makeup artist Way Bandy was a regular. Liza Minnelli and Grace Jones laid the kohl liner like full-blown Egyptian queens, while Jerry Hall and Debbie Harry draped their pyramid cheekbones in bright pink blush to theatrical effect. And no matter how embellished one was below, a directional topper, such as Bianca’s gold-plated flower crown or Cher’s plume-trimmed chapeau, was always a welcome accoutrement.
“The key to a good party is filling a room with guests more interesting than you,” Rubell once said. And Studio 54 doorman Marc Benecke as his witness, looking the part above the neck went a long way.
Article source: VOGUE