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Accidentally Famous: A Look into Studio 54

Accidently Famous Studio 54Studio 54 was a 70’s nightclub, also known as, “The World’s Most Famous Nightclub”. Regular visitors included Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Calvin Klein, Truman Capote, Cher, John Travolta, Tina Turner, and Elton John, just to name a few.

June of 1978, Patrick Taylor had just graduated high school. His plans for the upcoming fall were set to play football at Seton Hall University on a full athletic scholarship. To celebrate such an accomplishment, a few of his friends and his girlfriend took the train into New York City to attend San Gennaro’s Italian Feast.

Taylor and his friends enjoyed a long day at the feast and were just about to head for the train station, but a pair of drunk twenty-something Italian men interrupted those intentions. The tall one put his arm around Taylor, “Let’s go to down to Studio 54 and check out the freak show,” he suggested. The shorter one nodded and agreed, starting to tug on Taylor’s shirt.

“I looked at my girlfriend and man, her eyes could have cut into my soul”, Taylor recalled, “but it was my night and I was a selfish 18-year-old. My friends took her home and I went with the drunks.” 

At the time, Studio 54 was one of the most inaccessible nightclubs; people would wait outside for countless hours in hopes the door attendant, Mark Benecke, would allow them entry. The owners wanted a compilation of people who were famous, rich, or beautiful. “If Mark [Benecke] did not find any of those in a person, there was no way to get in,” Taylor explained.

The trio arrived outside of Studio 54, walking along the opposite side of the red velvet rope. Taylor was following the drunks to the front door so they could catch a glimpse of the “freaks” they sought after so badly.

The door attendant glanced at the two drunks as if they were peasants and pointed back at Taylor. “Only you. Do you want in or not, Blondie?” The Italian duet pushed Taylor in the door and said simultaneously, “he wants in!”

He walked in and suddenly knew why the drunks called it a freak show. The sex appeal was intense and colorful lights cut through clouds of smoke, illuminating the dark club as little as possible.

“A man approached me, handed me a drink and told me to follow him. I had no clue this man was Clyde Davis,” said Taylor. “He was the president of Columbia Records and well, anyway, he introduced me to one of the owners, Steve Rubell.” Davis told Rubell he should hire Taylor because of his good looks, and just like that, he was hired.

“I worked as a busboy for two months and by that time, Seton Hall’s football season was about to begin. To entice me to stay at Studio 54, Rubell promoted me to bartender, which probed me to resign from my scholarship.” At this time, Taylor was 19, living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. However, that is not why he decided to stay; the only true enticement was the quick and easy money he was making.

Michael Ingraffia, a childhood and current friend of Taylor, was not surprised at his instant success. “Patty was the only one in our friend group better looking than me,” Ingraffia laughed. “In all seriousness, he had it tough because his dad left his family and he never found out why. Maybe dropping out of college was his way to rebel against that.”

Taylor caught the attention of mostly every celebrity he encountered. “I quickly became Elton John’s favorite bartender, I thought It was because I made good drinks. But then he asked me to go home with him… When I declined, he moved onto a new favorite”

His life was on route to change yet again, when Francesco Scavullo, fashion photographer famous for shooting Cosmopolitan covers and celebrity portraits, approached Taylor at the bar.

The modelling audition was special because the director himself, Franco Zeffirelli, handpicked Taylor to be in the film. “I can truthfully say at one point in my life, I was more famous than Tom Cruise,” Taylor joked.

“I played Bob Clark, who tried to make a move on Brooke Shield’s character, Jade. Ironically right after that scene, her house gets set on fire by the guy that’s in love with her,” Taylor said.

The celebrity and party lifestyle began to take a toll on Taylor. He took sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll a little too literally.

“I did a lot of things I’m not proud of because of the career path I took,” Taylor said, “drugs being the center of it all.” When asked for further detail about his past with drugs, Taylor declined to comment because he likes to leave that aspect far behind him.

After finishing a model campaign for Versace around the age of 22, he decided to leave his Studio 54 days behind and pursue a career that was less mentally exhausting. He went back to his roots and enrolled in Seton Hall, where he studied pre-law. 

Taylor is now 55 and likes to think of himself as an average person. He is a father to two daughters and a son.

Overall, Taylor is a firm believer that everything happens for a reason; he regrets nothing and never wonders what life would be like if he stayed in the industry. “Whenever I have a rough day or I’m in a bad mood, I like to remind myself that I accomplished a lot in my life” Taylor points out, “Like when I didn’t let Elton John seduce me. How many people could say they dodged that bullet?”

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