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Tod Papageorge’s Studio 54

Studio 54 is a thing of legend. Especially to those of a younger generation who glorify and romanticize that time in New York’s past as a sort of renaissance where art, music, and fashion fused into one unbridled colossus pushing culture forwards. Hearing the stories of celebrities, sex, drugs, and rock and roll mingling can sound like one tall tale after the next. But seeing the photographs of Tod Papageorge from his new book Studio 54, it becomes clear that this mid-century bacchanalia was all too real.

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But access into this fantasy world was no simple feat. In the words of the photographer himself, “It was difficult to get into: the imperturbable doormen who doled out access, according to rules that only they seemed to know, made sure of it. The most evident way of winning them over was to be beautiful, but only the famous or socially connected could assume that they’d be shooed around the flock of hopefuls milling on the street side of the entrance rope and through the door. Once inside, though, everyone there seemed thrilled by the fact, no matter how they managed to accomplish it, a feeling fed by the throbbing music and the brilliantly designed interior, which, from night to night, could suggest anything from Caliban’s cave to a harem.”

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Papageorge’s book includes 67 photos taken at the infamous discotheque between 1978-80 and will be released in an edition of 1000 on November 13 to coincide with Paris Photo.

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All images courtesy of Stanley/Barker

text by: Emily Kirkpatrick










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