In the late 1970s, the glitterati worshipped at the altar of Studio 54. The star-studded club, renowned for its debauched, Caligula-style orgies of excess, was seen as the height of glamour. As CNN reports, “In the late Seventies, Studio 54 was probably the coolest place on earth.”
The hotspot for the celebrity culture, Studio 54 became a sort of cultural totem; according to creator Steve Rubell, “only the Mafia made more money.” Rubell, along with his partner, Ian Schrager, ended up in prison for over a year thanks to tax evasion charges. When the club was raided, authorities found literal bags of money stashed around the club.
Guests included Liza Minnelli, Grace Jones, Michael Jackson, Calvin Klein, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Janice Dickinson, John Travolta, Mick Jaggar, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and dozens of other A-listers. On the night of its closing, Diana Ross showed up to sing the club to sleep. In the crowd were celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Richard Gere, and Sylvester Stallone.
What went on behind those closed golden doors? We now have the pictures: the drugs, the cross-dressing, the sex, the over-the-top insanity perpetrated by our intellectual and cultural betters. This month, Swedish photojournalist Hasse Persson released a book with black and white shots of the insanity:
So, what does this say about those who shape our music, film, and television? It says that they were, at least in the late 1970s, some of the unhappiest folks on the planet – people who led empty lives requiring meatlike processions of flesh to fulfill them and violations of normalcy to feel exceptional. These were the sophisticates.
When you have everything – money, fame, sex, drugs – boredom must be a constant challenge. Stimulation becomes a priority. And the only way to stimulate is to continue violating rules of normality. Then, when guilt sets in, Hollywood tells us that we are all perverts – that we all wish we could have been at Studio 54, and that in reality, we’re all participants in our own private Studio 54s. Hollywood would like to see America remade in the image of its own playground. Only that won’t be the end of the story. Because as the deviant is normalized, new taboos must be broken. And so we swirl the drain, all the while celebrating the glitter-covered monstrosity of our celebrity culture.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.