The brainchild of Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, Studio 54 opened its doors for the first time on this day in 1977 and immediately became the epicenter of nightlife in New York City – and the world. Here are five of the craziest things that happened at Studio 54...
Bianca Jagger Rode A Horse Across the Disco Floor
On May 2, 1977, the club was closed on its normal day but opened for a private party to celebrate the birthday of Bianca Jagger, rock musician Mick Jagger’s wife. Massive numbers of white balloons were inflated and a horse obtained from Clermont Stables for the birthday girl. About 150 people were in attendance to see Jagger riding around at the party with the horse being led by a naked man decorated with gold glitter. It is now known as one of the most famous publicity stunts of the 20th century.
The Dance Floor Was Transformed Into A Farm For Dolly Parton Studio 54’s co-founder Steve Rubell was a known fan of showmanship. Their extravagantly-themed parties are a key part of its history and celebrity. When Dolly Parton was in New York to perform in May 1978, Studio 54 threw a farm-themed party in honor of the country star and they spared no detail, from the bails of hay to a host of animals including horses, donkeys and chickens. However, the farmyard extravaganza proved too much for humble Parton, who reportedly felt uncomfortable about the whole affair.
The Electronic Game Simon Premiered At Studio 54 When Simon, the Milton Bradley memory game, was introduced, the company held a big party at Studio 54 to celebrate. Milton Bradley had a four-foot tall model of the game built, and hung from the ceiling like a disco ball. The toy was an instant hit both with the crowd at the release party and with thousands of children at the holidays that year. Simon went on to become a pop culture symbol of the 1970s and 1980s.
When Andy Warhol Was Given A Trash Can Filled With $1,000 Studio 54 boss Steve Rubell made no secret of the club's success. He once even told New York Magazine “only the Mafia makes more money,” and while it eventually lead to his demise, the nightclub boss would be generous with his celebrity friends. In August 1978, for Studio 54 regular Andy Warhol’s 50th birthday, he was gifted a silver trash can full of a thousand fresh $1 bills, as well as five thousand free drink vouchers. Clubbers playfully threw the notes over Warhol.
The Raid That Closed The Club When Steve Rubell boasted that Studio 54 had made $7 million in its first year, it garnered the attention of the IRS. Shortly thereafter, the nightclub was raided and agents found $600,000 in garbage bags hidden in the building, along with 300 Quaalude pills and a few ounces of cocaine. Rubell and Schrager were arrested and Studio 54 closed with a final party as Diana Ross and Liza Minnelli serenaded the two owners in front of a crowd that included Jack Nicholson, Farrah Fawcett, Sylvester Stallone, and Richard Gere, among others. The two pleaded guilty to tax evasion and spent 13 months in prison.