Businesses Left Behind — The Federal Reserve and Federal Government Fail Main Street
Dolly was less than impressed. And the effort was all that and then some to celebrate her being in New York City to perform concert dates. Steve Rubell had a farm wagon brought in that was piled high with hay. Wine barrels were filled with corn. Chickens were in a pen. And horses, donkeys and mules had been procured from a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. As Anthony Haden-Guest wrote in The Last Party, Dolly Parton, “was completely freaked out at the number of people there. She had not had a Studio 54 experience. She was real nervous about this whole deal and went up to the balcony and sat up there for a while. She was not a comfortable lady there.”
It’s a fair bet Parton was not the only lady to have been unnerved at this monument to licentiousness that opened on April 26, 1977 in a onetime CBS soundstage at 254 West 54th Street between Eighth Avenue and Broadway. But let’s not go to “the rubber room” on the balcony. And forget about what went on in the basement on old banquettes. Of the iconic disco Rubell dreamt up with Ian Schrager, he once said, “only the mafia makes more money.” This release valve to a country recovering from Watergate and relieved to leave Vietnam behind was a who’s who of future success stories. It went beyond Andy Warhol, a rare artist who realized commercial success in his lifetime. For his 50th birthday, he was gifted a silver trash can filled with a thousand fresh $1 bills and 5,000 fresh drink vouchers he likely never exhausted given vice and tax evasion took down the gifter in the wee hours of February 3, 1980.
The A-listers of today famously included Mick Jagger, whose wife at the time, Bianca, once rode a white stallion across the dance floor. Elton John is another artist who’s managed to grow his fortune well past his young clubbing days. At Studio 54, he was often accompanied by Cher, another modern-day success story. Sly Stallone was yet another frequenter who Parton once described as “beautiful” in an interview with Andy Warhol. The tragic list of those who grinded away on the dance floor and are no longer with us today, including Warhol, is too lengthy and depressing to share. Let’s instead revert back to Parton and marvel at her own success and the estimated net worth of $500 million she’s built since those disco-balled, DJ’d and decadent nights on West 54th Street.
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