Studio 54 Still Looks Like the Best Club of All Time
When you combine an expert, artistically-motivated photographer and late 1970s New York City’s most insanely fucked up, glamorous, hedonistic, and beautiful people, you get some pretty phenomenal photos.
Images from Studio 54 are almost commonplace these days—what with all the articles, documentaries, and biographies of the super club—but something about the pictures Tod Papageorge took there seem to raise the subjects to a new level. They’re not just partygoers, but some sort of weird, artsy, celebrity, cocaine-and-champagne-fueled Dionysian cult clambering around in dinner suits and ball gowns.
VICE: Most biographies of you, or descriptions of your early work, seem to focus on the “street photography” label. Is that a term you’re happy with? Tod Papageorge: Interesting question. No, it’s not. It was just the work of a photographer, working in New York City. I’m a little less sensitive to the designation now, as I get older and more benign in my temperament. But back then it was a red flag—not just for me, but certainly for Garry Winogrand and the other photographers in our crew. It seemed to be condescending, or at least that was the way we responded to it: that it was a condescending way of describing what we were doing. We thought that what we were doing was making photographs.
It’s what all photographers were doing at that time—going out into the world and capturing some piece of it, whether photographing a mountain like Ansel Adams, or Harry Callahan taking photos of his wife. “Street photography,” it seemed to us, was not a very useful designation. There’s a famous issue of Aperture Magazine called “Snapshot,” which I had some part in putting together. It asked this same question to a lot of photographers and their replies were all negative. Like mine, right now.
Right. So, aside from the unfortunate label that was dropped on you… Coincidentally, I was looking over some work I did in the 80s, when was making the Studio 54 pictures. I had bought a new medium format camera called a Makina Plaubel 67 that made a slightly squarer negative. Back then, when I was walking in New York I made a study of the debris thrown in the street, and over time accumulated a certain number of pictures. Recently I looked over and edited them, with the idea of doing a book, possibly. The name of the book would be Street Photographs—literally photos of debris on the street. That’s what I think of the designation; that’s how I think it should be properly used.
You came home to find Erik sitting in the dark with his hands clasped in front of himself. “Hey, babe what’s wrong?” you asked.
“You tell me,” he said.
“Wait, I’m so confused,” you said as you turned on the lights making Erik blink at the sudden shock. Splayed out on the table were several tabloid magazines with snapshots of you and Erik from afar. You looked at the headlines, “Y/N using Erik Durm for fame.” There were pictures of you with some of the more famous people you had met since dating Erik. Conveniently, he was cropped out of each one.
“You can’t believe this, babe,” you said as you picked up all of the magazines to go through them in the trash.
“I don’t know,” Erik shook his head. “It’s awful convincing.”
You recoiled at the thought that your boyfriend could believe the gossip of some random tabloids over you.
“Fine, you know what, believe what you want. You aren’t going to listen to me anyways so I’m just going to bed,” you said frustrated.
You crawled under the covers, but didn’t fall asleep. You heard Erik come in and sigh.
“I know you aren’t asleep,” he said.
“Why would you think that? What have I done to make you doubt us?” you asked feeling a lump in your throat.
“I don’t get it, sometimes. Why you like me. Like, if I wasn’t a footballer would you still love me?” he asked. “It seems so convincing, that fame is the only thing I could possibly offer you.”
“I fell in love with Erik Durm, the person, not Erik Durm the footballer. I could care less if you wanted to be a teacher or an artist or a plumber. Other people might just love the person they see on television, but I love every bit of you. Don’t think otherwise,” you said. You curled up closer to him and he gently nuzzled your hair.
“Y/N I love you so much,” he said.
“I love you too,” you replied and went to sleep at peace with one another.
im trying to learn how to dress 50's vintage do you happen to have any tips for a beginner?
My first tip would be to buy appropriate undergarments because your silhouette will look a lot better in 50s style clothes and they will fit you better with the right undergarments. You don’t have to buy expensive pin-up style lingerie online, you can find that same style of stuff at discount stores or department store. They are made for old ladies who just never stopped wearing the old style bras and undergarments, but you can wear them too and you’ll look cute because you’re young.
My other tip would be to pick out your favourite colours (maybe pink and beige, or green and yellow, whatever you like) and then build a wardrobe around that. That way, everything you own will go together. The best way to get a sense of everyday vintage style (rather than high fashion) is to look at old snapshots instead of relying on movies and magazines. Personal snapshots tend to reflect what real people wore back then and you’ll get a sense of what is feasible for day-to-day outfits.