Twenty-five years ago this week, Los Angeles was burning because of Rodney King’s beating by the fuzz and I had my shoulder sliced open by a doctor in order to repair torn ligaments. My shoulder hurt more than Rodney’s ribs, because I saw him on TV get up and gesticulate freely after being whacked rather hard by four cops. I didn’t lift my arm for months. Lesson to be learned: Better to have four cops beat you than to run into an ice wall at a high speed while skiing with snow blindness.
Forty years ago this week, there was better news: Studio 54 opened its doors, changing the Big Bagel’s nighttime culture forever. Started by two friends of mine—they became friends after a rocky start—Studio was entered after a physical battle under the giant marquee with “deplorables” who lay siege all night against those of us who were signaled to enter upon arrival. The sidewalk was a scary zoo outside Studio, the non grata ones linking arms against those welcomed by the legendary Marc Benecke, and some even spitting at people like Warhol and his entourage as the club’s heavies escorted them in. I never had any problem with the BBQs—Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens crowds—as I always dressed square and never expected the heaving humanity to open up à la Red Sea to welcome me. Lesson to be learned: Act like an old-fashioned gent, never like a haughty celebrity, and the crowd will neither spit on you nor try to keep you out.
Studio was redolent of secret chambers. There were nooks and crannies and places where people openly screwed and took drugs. What amazed me was the fact that it was always referred to as exclusive, but when at full capacity it held 2,000 persons, a fact that always led me to question its exclusivity. Which brings me to the point of my story.