If you know anything about Studio 54, it’s that it was hard to get into. Yesterday, the coronavirus scare made a new exhibit about the legendary nightclub downright impossible to get into, as the Brooklyn Museum decided to close down after its opening night.
Before that happened, though, one self-declared “Studio 54 reject” finally got a taste of the glitz and glamor. . Surrounded by four brass stanchion posts connected by red velvet ropes, Levy stood outside of the Brooklyn Museum, behind a small table in a pink shaggy faux fur coat, with a sign that said “Studio 54 reject T-Shirt, $20.” A photshowed her selling the first edition of the shirt in front of Studio 54 in 1978.
Like every person who has felt like an outsider, Levy felt especially “betrayed” after she was denied entry by Studio 54 twice in 1978, after she had settled in NYC. “It’s supposed to be a city where everything is accepted,” she said. “It’s like I’m still not cool enough.”
Now, while admitting that she still has FOMO, Levy was “celebrating being a reject. It’s like saying that I’m okay with being who I am. I don’t have to be a part of somebody’s standards.”
At the time, Levy had sent her “Studio 54 Reject” shirts to Andy Warhol, Gilda Radnor, and other cast members of Saturday Night Live. “The irony of Studio 54 is that the brand is breaking all the standards,” Levy said. “But then they have their own standards. The brand Studio 54 stands for exclusivity.”
“Be a reject and be proud!” Levy shouted to museum visitors. As soon as she set up, two people bought a T-shirt. She showed them a thank-you postcard from Gilda Radner.
According to the museum website, tickets for the members-only opening night of Studio 54: Night Magic were sold out, but attendance was low. After an hour and a half, Levy had only sold two shirts, yet she seemed cheerful. “People laugh at least, right?” she said. “There was something liberating, making my own fun. That’s kind of what’s really meaningful to me.”
It started to drizzle at 8:30pm, and Levy was about to pack up and leave when her husband Phil returned from the museum with free tickets. The employees were lax about admission since the museum would be closed to the public the next day until further notice, due to the coronavirus.
Upon entering the museum, Levy proudly showed her reject T-shirt to an employee who collected her ticket and said, “You’re not rejected anymore.” With 70s disco beats pumping in the background, Levy awed at the costumes, fashion design sketches, and photographs of the extravagant theme parties from the nightclub that she was then not cool enough to set foot in. Suddenly, she got excited and pointed out Lily Tomlin’s name on the 14-page-long door list for the opening party in 1977.
“I’m definitely gonna send her a shirt.”