Parties come and go; clubs fade in and out of relevancy. But nothing will ever recreate the perfect storm of disco, drugs, sexuality and decadence that was New York City’s Studio 54 in the late 70s and 80s.
Swedish Photojournalist Hasse Persson was there snapping shots of what would become the gold standard of 70s hedonism and 80s excess.
In December 1979 the club was raided by the IRS. Between all the sleepless nights and overindulgence, owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager never got around to making the business legitimate. They were skimming millions, and the raid turned up entire bags filled with cash stashed throughout the club. Steve and Ian pled guilty to tax evasion and were sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Presson’s stunning collection of black-and-white photos is aptly called Studio 54, and if you’re looking for the perfect coffee table conversation starter, the hard cover book will accent any living room.
Here’s what Persson writes in the forward:
“The times and the prevalent drug culture sanctioned this hedonistic half-way-house between heaven and hell. Somebody smart said Studio 54 existed after the Pill, before AIDS and while cocaine was still seen as a pick-me-up. The drug reference today seems vapid but a lot of people had been reading Sigmund Freud’s so-called cocaine-papers. In his book Über Coca, published in 1984, Freud was full of praise for cocaine’s benefits, claiming it to be a far better drug than alcohol. And less harmful. When Freud also mentioned that patients who had been prescribed cocaine reported an increased sex drive, Studio 54 was easily convinced. ‘Push, Push, in the Bush’ as Mustique put it.”
And here’s a sample of shots. You might recognize the likes of Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and Bianca Jagger — all regulars: