Studio 54 could be a real zoo.
Although many were turned away at the door of the great New York icon – which opened its doors 45 years ago on April 26, 1977 – many animals managed to enter.
“The live leopard was my favorite – a couple brought him on a leash,” recalls Gerard Renny, who landed a security gig at Studio 54 when he was just 18. “They said I could pet it and I had to keep guests away from it.”
“I guess I was his bouncer-bodyguard that night,” said Renny, 63, an Upper East Sider who is now operations manager at the ‘Ethyl’s 70s themed water trough.
There was also a snake – most one from another guest – crawling in the bar one night.
“I was called to come to the main bar because someone said there was a boa constrictor there,” said Chuck Garelick, who was 19 when he started as head of security. at the Studio in 1977. “It turned out that it wasn’t… but it was a very big, very long snake that someone had brought in their bag.
But some animals were allowed on the orders of club owners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.
“There was a Halloween where the lobby was decorated like a fun house, and there was a floor maze covered in plexiglass, and there must have been a few hundred white mice,” said Garelick, 64. , who now lives. in Union Square and is a security officer.
“It was all black lights, so they put a strip of UV paint [on the mice]. After we cleared that up, they stayed around that place for a long time. We had white mice running around for months,” he said.
Things got a little sketchy on Valentine’s Day in 1979, when management installed metal fish ponds in the lobby.
That night, a fire at another Manhattan club prompted surprise FDNY inspections. They ordered the club to get rid of ponds full of goldfish.
“So a bucket brigade was formed with all sorts of personnel, security and busboys – who at the time wore short shorts, sneakers, no shirts and angel wings,” Garelick recalls.
“We poured [the ponds] right on 54th Street, not even thinking about goldfish,” he said. “It was really cold that night, and when we left that morning there were frozen goldfish all over the sidewalk.”
The club closed in 1980 after the founders were convicted of tax evasion and operated under new ownership from 1981 to 1986. Former studio employees – who call themselves the “Class of 54” – are meet at Ethyl’s on April 24 for a birthday. and reunion party. Some remember bringing their own pets past the velvet ropes.
“During the day, if you worked at the Studio, you could bring your dog to work,” said Myra Scheer, who was in her 20s when she worked as an executive assistant for Rubell and Schrager,
There was a trio of dogs – Scheer’s English Sheepdog, Mateus; Friend, a setter who belonged to Neil Wilson on the technical team; and Pepe, a chow who belonged to Studio private party booker Shay Knuth – who had free rein.
Scheer, 71, who now co-hosts ‘The Marc and Myra Show’ on Sirius’ Studio 54 radio, said: ‘The most glamorous and exclusive place in New York at night had three regular dogs roaming the runway of dance.”
New York Post