Fascinating if limited in its scope, Matt Tyrnauer’s (Where’s My Ray Cohn?, Valentino) documentary explores the founding of the notorious New York club, the epicentre of ‘the 70s scene’.
Hollywod stars, rock stars, artists, politicians, drag queens – with ordinary New York punters queueing to rub shoulders with the likes of Liza Minnelli, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson. But Studio 54 always survived on the edge – unlicensed, sex, drugs easily obtained, a micro-cash economy. And whilst more a homage to its founders, Studio 54: The Documentary reveals the excesses of the club.
With its glory days as the focus, co-founder Ian Schrager talks about the club and his friendship from teenage years with the gregarious Steve Rebell that lead to arguably the most famous club to open its doors. Coy about certain details he may be, Schrager provides insight into the club’s history and the outrageous behaviour of Rebell, ever a social butterfly who died from AIDS in 1989.
Post Schrager/Rebell proves to be of little interest to Tyrnauer – nor, in spite of numerous interviews with former staff and punters, any genuine investigative journalism that would/could dispute much of what Schrager claims. But for what it is, Studio 54: The Documentary is an interesting feature if only one that skims across the surface.