When the party eventually had to be brought to a full stop (illegal activities and ignoring the IRS would do that), Rubell and Schrager had to face some jail time. Each of them had to serve 3.5 years, ultimately cut in half. How did they get the cut? Simple, they gave some names and numbers regarding similar establishments that also had trouble keeping their finances fully legal.
Apparently, Schrager’s run-ins with the law didn’t bother him as much as snitching did. He explained that his father was closely tied to mob-boss Meyer Lansky, who obviously wasn’t too fond of snitches.
Liza Minnelli Enjoyed the Disco, Despite the Seedy Rumors
Although A-listers roamed the dance floor at Studio 54, the club gradually gained a sordid reputation. Outsiders claimed that the disco featured ever-present illegal substances and nightly misadventures. Rumors painted the owners as hedonistic degenerates lacking basic morals. Although the club had a less-than-stellar reputation, A-listers like Liza Minnelli had no problem spending their evenings at Studio 54.
Whether the nasty rumors were true or not, Minnelli often ruled the dance floor, showing off her best disco moves in her quintessential ‘70s attire. Andy Warhol took Polaroids of the club-goers, and Truman Capote was often seen in the VIP section. Despite the criticism from the outside, the iconic disco attracted the most exclusive guests who let loose and enjoyed themselves in an atmosphere of freedom and wild abandon.
On Opening Night, the Club Was Practically Falling Apart
Although Studio 54 catered to 1970s A-listers, the club was practically falling apart on opening night. Less than an hour before the doors officially opened, workers were still in the process of laying black flooring to create the necessary vibe of the club. When the first patrons arrived, the indoor lights flickered, and the music wasn’t working.
The lights behind the bar actually went out completely, forcing workers to purchase candles from a nearby shop for illumination. When Donald Trump arrived, no one even heard him knock. The club's eclectic mix of people and freewheeling spirit is what made Studio 54 one of the most legendary nightclubs of all time.
The Infamous Bartenders of Studio 54
It was known that the club's co-owner, Steve Rubell, was gay. And so, it was not surprising that you'd find young men as bartenders instead of beautiful, busty women serving your drinks. Even a young, handsome Alec Baldwin served as a busboy for a brief period of time! As you can probably guess, the bartender's uniform was a very small pair of shorts. And not much else. The photo below pretty much proves that the men were chosen more for their looks than their bartending skills.
Reportedly, there was an employee nicknamed "Lenny 54", that told Rubell outright that he wasn't going to work in that 'ridiculous' pair of shorts, and declared he was going to hang out with the guests and keep them entertained. Clearly, Rubell had no problem with this and kept Lenny employed for quite some time.
What If We Send You a Limo?
While many people were willing to pay an arm and a leg to get inside Studio 54, some celebrities actually courted and personally invited to the fine establishment. Courted how? We're happy you asked. The owners would send limos to the celebrities they invited. Very on-brand with the club's reputation of dispensing all sorts of illegal substances, those limos were packed substances from all corners of the world.
However, not all the celebrities accepted the invitation. In fact, some, like Madonna, were famously turned away at the door. According to legend, the pop star tried to enter the club on her 21st birthday but was rejected because she wasn't famous enough at the time