Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Studio 54 Founder Ian Schrager Finally Tells His Story

The club the Feds shutdown (Too many people having too much fun, They got Schrager for tax evasion.) is going to be memorialized in a coffee-table book.

NyPo reports:
Studio 54 — the nightclub to end all nightclubs — has been celebrated in books and movies before. But now the legend is getting its real due, in the form of a coffee-table book being put together by Ian Schrager, who created the disco with the late Steve Rubell in 1977.
Rizzoli will publish the book in the fall of 2015.
An instant hit, Studio 54 was known for its nightly mob scene, as scores of would-be partiers jostled against the velvet ropes, screaming the name of doorkeeper Marc Benecke.
The lucky ones were allowed to go inside to join the likes of Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Drew Barrymore, Salvador Dali, Brooke Shields and Diana Ross. The city had never seen such nightlife.
But in December 1978, after Rubell bragged that Studio 54 made $7 million in its first year of operation and that “only the Mafia made more money,” federal agents raided the club and confiscated large amounts of drugs and garbage bags filled with cash stashed in a ceiling.
Studio 54 was just a little before my time and I never made it into the place during its heyday but, what few know is that after its Rubell-Schrager days, the former Yippie co-founder Jerry Rubin, during his "Wall Street period," turned Studio 54 into a huge "business networking" location. It was probably the first such event. Once a week (possibly once a month, I forget now), he would hold a networking event for Wall Street types, where you supposedly could cut deals, but the music was blasting and the lights were low

You had to have a printed invitation (not too hard to get, if you worked on Wall Street) and fork over $20 to get in. Rubin was making a killing. The place held thousands. I attended a couple of times. It was a huge pick up scene, young Wall Street guys and women, who only by Rubin's wild imagination could be considered close to being Wall Street types. The Studio 54 building, itself, reminded me of a huge gym with cement walls and a cement floor, with a huge circular bar in the middle. With boring people, I imagined the place could be very cold and almost dungeon like.

Rubin was a real shrewd guy. He was an early investor in Apple Computer and was a multi-millionaire when he died at age 56, after being hit by a car in Los Angeles. The other counterculture anti-war protester Abbie Hoffman also died of unnatural causes at an early age, 52.

Rubin and Hoffman were both tried as part of the Chicago 8. They made a hilarious mockery of the court  during their trial.  One day, they appeared in court dressed in judicial robes. When the judge ordered them to remove the robes, they complied, to reveal that they were wearing Chicago police uniforms underneath. It was a circus act everyday.

In 1987, HBO aired Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8, a docudrama which re-enacted the off-the-wall trial using the court transcript as the primary source for the script. All eight of the original defendants, along with defense attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, participated in the project and provided commentary throughout the film. It was awarded the 1988 CableACE Award for Best Dramatic Special. It is now on DVD, here.

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