Studio 54 is a New York City Broadway theater and former discothèque located at 254 West 54th Street in Manhattan. The disco opened on April 26, 1977 and closed in March 1986 and briefly reopened in 1994 after a multi-million dollar renovation. Since 1998 it has been a venue for the Roundabout Theatre Company, with a 900 seat theatre equipped with two full service bars.
From the 1950s to the mid-1970s, CBS used the location as a radio and TV stage that housed such shows as What's My Line?, The $64,000 Question, Password, To Tell the Truth, Beat the Clock, The Jack Benny Show, I've Got a Secret, Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, Captain Kangaroo, and the ill-fated CBS version of the Johnny Carson Show. The soap opera Love of Life was produced there until 1975.
In 1976, CBS concentrated most of its New York broadcast functions around the corner to its storied Ed Sullivan Theater (CBS-TV Studio 50) or west to the CBS Broadcast Center, and sold Studio 52. The Ed Sullivan Theater once had access to Studio 52 through an access door which was cinder-blocked during the Theater's Late Night with David Letterman renovation. However, it is possible that the door that was covered was, in fact, leading to an MTA utility building, instead of the Sullivan Theater.
Carmen D'Alessio, a Valentino public relations agent who had been throwing fashionable parties, encouraged Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, who were operating the Enchanted Garden at 63-20 Marathon Parkway in Queens, to make the leap into Manhattan. D'Alessio had "reluctantly" hosted parties outside of Manhattan at the Queens venue and had been profiled in Newsweek for doing so.
In 1977 the building was purchased and renamed for its street address, 254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, a location already noted for another tenant in the building, famed disco record label West End Records, as well as being the former home of Scepter Records.
The club was founded by three equal partners: Steven Rubell, Ian Schrager, and Jack Dushey. They operated the company as Broadway Catering Corp. Another partner Richard DeCourcey was present until September 1977.
D'Alessio, after working in Rome and around Europe as a fashion PR, was well connected in the fashion, music, and film scenes; and generally with the kind of "A" list jetsetters, movers and shakers, and celebrities from across the United States, South America, Europe and other parts of the world who would be ideal patrons. Harden was pushed out of the project, and Rubell and Schrager gave D'Alessio much of the control for the design and promotion of the club.
Before the April 26, 1977 opening, D'Alessio sent out 5,000 invitations to her exclusive mailing list together with an enticing surprise gift to each of her invitees. Liz Smith, Cindy Adams, and other New York gossip columnists announced to the world the coming of something big.
On May 21, 1977, the New York State Liquor Authority raided Studio 54 for selling liquor without a license and closed it. The owners of the club said the incident was a "misunderstanding". The next night the club reopened but was giving out free fruit juice and soda instead of liquor. Prior to the raid, the club had been using one day use "caterers' permits", which enabled the club to serve alcohol but were intended for weddings or political affairs. The State had denied the daily permit for the night and raided the club. The club had been using these permits while waiting for its liquor license to be processed.
A week after the opening, Halston asked Rubell to open the club on a Monday night (May 2, 1977, when it would have been closed) for Bianca Jagger's 27th birthday party. Bianca entered on a white horse and the resulting publicity firmly established Studio 54 as the preferred nightclub for celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Rudolf Nureyev, Elton John, Truman Capote, Margaret Trudeau, John Travolta, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson, Mae West, Farrah Fawcett, Martha Graham, Lorna Luft, Divine, Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper, Suzanne Somers, Bette Davis, Freddie Mercury, Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Pelé, Hugh Hefner, Sophia Loren, Diane von Fürstenberg, Margit and Erik Brandt, Eartha Kitt, and Lillian Carter, then-president Jimmy Carter's mother. The music world's top performers also graced the club's stages to perform their new songs: Donna Summer, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, Grace Jones, Gloria Gaynor, Cheryl Lynn, Brooklyn Dreams, James Brown, Phylis Hyman, Chic, Rick James, Sylvester and The Village People all sang their signature tunes during the endless nights of partying.
Studio 54 was operated by the flamboyant, publicly visible Rubell and his retiring silent partner Schrager. At the club's prime, Rubell became widely known for hand-selecting guests from the always huge crowds outside, mixing beautiful "nobodies" with glamorous celebrities in the same venue. London author/ journalist Keith Barker-Main recalls his first time at 54. Then still underage, he nervously stood outside at the back of the crowd feigning disinterest. His black cutaway tee shirt caught Rubell's eye. Bearing the logo "Fuck Studio 54!" it earned him a life time free membership from the owner, impressed by such chutzpah.
"Studio", as it came to be called, was notorious for the hedonism that went on within; the balconies were known for sexual encounters, and drug use was rampant. Its dance floor was decorated with a depiction of a Man in the Moon that included an animated cocaine spoon. John Blair and Jason presented "Sundays at Studio 54", which catered to a gay clientèle.
The club closed with one final party called "The End of Modern-day Gomorrah", on February 4, 1980. Diana Ross, Ryan O'Neal, Janice Dickinson, Jocelyne Wildenstein, Richard Gere, Gia Carangi, Reggie Jackson, and Sylvester Stallone (who, as legend has it, bought the last drink) were among the guests that night. New York lawyer Gary Naftalis successfully represented Schrager in the ensuing tax-evasion prosecution. After the club's closing, cocaine and money were found in its walls. Schrager and Rubell were found guilty and would spend 13 months in prison.
This second incarnation closed down in March 1986 due to an expired lease.
In 1998, the collapse of a construction hoist blocked access to the Henry Miller Theatre on 43rd Street, where the hit revival of the Broadway musical Cabaret was playing. To keep the show open, the Roundabout Theater Company entered into an agreement to move the performance to Studio 54. Brooke Shields who had been to Studio 54 many times, including the opening in 1977, would eventually star as Sally in the Studio 54 production. Roundabout later bought the building in 2003 from Allied for $22.5 million , and Cabaret played until 2004.
It was briefly owned by Noel Ashman.
Upstairs at Studio 54 Performances:
As part of the thriving Terminal 1 Nightclub, where the theme is 4 different destinations in one building the Studio 54 theme is alive and kicking in the main room. Hosting cheesy music and disco balls all over a multi colored dance-floor, with movies such as Saturday Night Fever and Grease showing the feel of the late 70s and early 80s.
Every September Studio 54 moves to the Antwerp Sports Palace to host its yearly biggest disco party in the world.
The plans for a second continuously-operating Studio 54 has caused fans of the original to charge that MGM is only interested in the commercialization and franchising of the Studio 54 name, and that these clubs will be nothing more than regular discotheques with the Studio 54 name.
Coventry University Students' Union on Cox Street goes by the name of Studio 54, which is commonly abbreviated in advertising and branding, and also known locally in roman numerals as 'LIV'.
On the season seven (1981-1982 season) of Saturday Night Live hosted by George Kennedy (with musical guest Miles Davis), there is a musical sketch called "53 at Studio 54", about an old man who goes to the famous discotheque.
In an episode of Sex and the City, Studio 54 is mentioned when Carrie Bradshaw is discussing Aleksander Petrovsky's past loves. In an earlier episode, Samantha Jones's 25 year old personal assistant makes a dig about Samantha's age, when she remarks "I also stood in line for Studio 54 - the movie!!"
In an episode of Ugly Betty, Studio 54 is mentioned when Amanda is asking Wilhemina for information about her father.
The Welsh band Stereophonics song Vegas Two Times mentions the Las Vegas Studio 54.
In King of the Hill the episode 'Strangeness on a Train', it mentions a Studio 54 as a train mystery theme.
A line in the song Le Freak mentions "just come on down to the 54", a reference to its days as an iconic disco dancing venue.
Ian Schrager Takes Listeners Behind the Scenes - and Even Into the Basement - of Studio 54 on SiriusXM's Studio 54 Radio.
Jan 04, 2012; Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) announced that, for the first time ever, Ian Schrager will share a behind the scenes look at the...