Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary delivers a lively account of how Studio 54 opened its doors to disco music, hedonism and celebrity revellers Studio 54 is the legendary New York club on Eighth Avenue at 54th Street that opened in the late 70s on the site of a disused CBS TV studio. Co-owners Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell cleverly modified its theatrical space, keeping the balcony and lighting rig and levelling the auditorium with the stage. With wild entrepreneurialism and reckless press-baiting, they captured lightning in a bottle and Studio 54 became world famous for its disco music, its hedonism, its exclusive celebrity guest list, its gay party aesthetic at a time when homophobia was rife on the streets outside. But, after a couple of years, the party was over. Rubell and Schrager were arrested for tax evasion and drugs; they ratted out competitor club-owners to reduce their own jail time; and Rubell was to die of an Aids-related condition in 1989. There was a feature film in 1998 about this called 54, with Mike Myers archly cast as Rubell. Now it is the subject of Matt Tyrnauer’s lively but tactful documentary tribute, centred on sympathetic interviews with the surviving partner, Schrager, now a successful hotelier.
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