"AMERICA IS the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between," said Oscar Wilde.
•SPEAKING OF decadence, that word has been used and over-used, but perhaps not without cause in the fabulous 1970s.
From 1973 to 1983, the economy was tanking, big cities were going under and even those not actually "going under" were dirty, grimy and not terribly pretty.
But the sexual revolution, which had flowered in the late 1960s came to full bloom in the 1970s. Unprotected sex was everywhere. And so was glamour. The girly, shapeless miniskirts, which looked good on Twiggy, the low-heeled shoes, the "natural" hairstyles -- these gave way to retro updates of the 1940s and 50s: close-fitting, low-cut gowns, platform heels, shoulder pads, glitter, beading, pants so tight you knew a guy's religion. (And hair so high you knew you were close to God!)
Typifying all of it was New York's Studio 54. In a city rife with crime, porno shops and a luridly tempting Times Square, this nightclub became the cynosure of every eye... the gossip column item everyone wanted to read about and be in...the place to be if you were anybody who counted in the world of celebrity. And, for anybody else who dressed well enough and had the proper "style." (Ah, the memorable velvet rope, where many a tear was shed after being rejected!)
Now, Studio 54 and the 70s are making a big comeback. Mark Fleischman, who owned Studio 54 from 1981 until its closing a few years later, is penning a book which he says will expose 54's "dark side." As opposed to what -- the lighter side of the giant cocaine spoon that floated above the dance floor?
Fleishman owned the spot after the late Steve Rubell and his partner Ian Schrager had troubles and bailed. By 1981, the fragrant bloom of the "dark" was fading anyway. He's not going to tell us anything we don't already know.
Ian Schrager is putting together a lush coffee table book about Studio 54. Fleishman says, "Schrager is trying to sugar-coat" the era. Oh, Please. Ian's will be a book of fabulous photos. Everybody still alive knows what went on. Nobody needs to sugar-coat anything.
P.S. Tomorrow we'll tell you about another book devoted to that decade of decadence.
•When the Economics Club of New York decides to give a "Special Achievement Award" to a business-man philanthropist like the elegant Pete Peterson, well, you just know it's something special!
None other than David Rockefeller appeared in person. I think he was the best-looking man of the evening by far and sitting across the table from him during dinner convinced me, once again, of his goodness and greatness. (It was a kick to watch high finance guys come up behind him and take "selfies," proving they had touched the hem of his garment.)
Others were almost in pain to be noticed by the modest giver-of-all-good-things--Mr. Rockefeller -- and the honoree, Mr. Peterson, no slouch when it comes to giving, leads the way in praising Mr. R.
Pete, who founded Blackstone, and has the Pete Peterson Foundation doing good deeds for all of us, was dropped by President Richard Nixon back when he was Secretary of Commerce -- a distinction I'd say. He didn't click his heels enough.
This night Pete had two former Federal Reserve chairmen to praise him -- Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan.
•THE program began with Henry Kissinger and Diane Sawyer on film, singing Pete's praises. This was fine but the inept Hilton Hotel deserves a kick in the pants for playing music that drowned them out. Also for not raising mikes to suitable levels and when Pete Peterson got "on" stage, they never once gave the audience a close-up look at him. He was great as always and overcame these drawbacks. (Personally, I would never have succeeded in my charity endeavors without the generosity of this man!)
He is so special. Likewise, his and Joan Ganz Cooney's beautiful children, "grands," and others of that young ilk. They were a gorgeous antidote to all the veterans around them.
Noted in the distinguished crowd -- Peggy Noonan, Suzanne Goodson, Judy Miller, Joel Schumacher, NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Dr. Sid Mandelbaum, Felix Rohatyn, Phoenix House's Mitch Rosenthal, who is about to be named a "Living Landmark."
Pete loved his night. He said over and over, "The Economics Club honored me?! I'm not even an economist."
•DON'T MISS Q magazine for the Fall season with a beautiful Candice Bergen on the cover, photographed by Francesco Scavullo back in 1964. In the same issue is my own take on the one and only Marlene Dietrich! The editors have decorated this article with some of the most ravishing pictures of Marlene ever taken in her long career. You can subscribe to Q by calling 646-840- 3404 ext. 106. It comes out 4 times a year for $32.00.
If you're surprised at how good my vision of Marlene is -- well, let's give credit where credit is due. My helper Denis Ferrara shows his fine Italian hand here!
•Speaking of Candice Bergen, she will soon be on Broadway, with Alan Alda, in the eternal revival of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters." Nov. 9th thru Dec. 5th.
•HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to the now 89-years-young Angela Lansbury -- the one and only TV star of "Murder She Wrote" and the three times nominated for Oscar actress! (So, they gave her an honorary one!) She has won five Tony Awards.
Angela will gear up for an L.A. opening and a tour of "Blythe Spirit" in December. Keep on keeping on, girl!