One night in 1977


It's 11:59: A not-yet-married-to-Mick Jerry Hall parties with an on-the-brink-of-superstardom Debbie Harry.

One night at studio 54, a woman, thinking she’d hit upon a foolproof strategy for getting in, rented a horse and arrived Lady Godiva–style. The doormen, sizing up the situation, made a Solomonic decision—the horse was in; the lady would have to wait outside. In or out: For the couple of years of Studio 54’s reign, there was no in-between (except for one man who got stuck in an air duct trying to sneak in and died there, in full black tie). New York City was on the edge of bankruptcy, but at Brooklyn kids Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager’s Studio 54, that was a mere detail. On any given night, you could see Baryshnikov, Bill Buckley, Betty Ford, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Mick Jagger, David Rockefeller, and (of course) Andy Warhol. In the warren of low-ceilinged rooms downstairs was the inner sanctum, with coke by the yard, a place where you could meet anyone doing just about anything. When the FBI raided, they found Hefty bags stuffed with cash and a pathetically minuscule amount of coke—and Rubell and Schrager found they were out of celebrity friends.

"I don't know if I was in heaven or hell. But it was wonderful." — Lillian Carter.

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