It’s interesting that a club that had a sex pit and a mattress in the basement for sex, as well as drug use…would have a documentary that shied away from a lot of those aspects. Perhaps in an era of #metoo, it just doesn’t seem cool to bring up how the owners were really rather nasty about who they let in, and the drugs and sex in the club. One of the owners is no longer alive, but we get a lot of archival interview footage with him. The silent partner has a few interesting things to say, but as someone that owns a bunch of hotels now, doesn’t seem like he really wants to delve that much into certain things. And really, the filmmakers want to try to make this more about a fun and groovy place, not about guys that were rude to people in line and did jail time for tax evasion.
The only big name talking head in this was Nile Rodgers (is there a documentary he doesn’t comment on?). It was somewhat interesting to hear from various construction workers. One talks about using rubber in the building of the sex pit, because it’s easier to wash; if only the Casbah did that in their backroom, but I digress.
Some transvestites comment on things, as well as a 78-year-old female lawyer that liked to party there.
We do see a young, shy Michael Jackson interviewed about the club, too.
It’s a shame that so much of the interesting things we could’ve learned about the place seem to be missing. Many of the facts they bring up, we already knew. Perhaps the only thing that surprised me was finding out this club was around for less than three years. As popular as the name still is, with only CBGB being as popular, I figured it had been around for a decade.
It also felt a bit repetitive merely seeing photos from back in the day. I guess it’s mildly interesting to see Liza Minnelli sitting next to Andy Warhol.
Now, that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting to find out that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards got in for free, while two other Stones had to pay (Ringo would’ve totally had to pay to get in).
It’s always wild hearing the details on police raids, too.
It was also fun to get a recap on the history of clubs in New York, especially finding out that Studio 54 opened up in a part of town where people were routinely mugged.
Finding out how Studio 54 got around having a liquor license was genius (I won’t spoil it here).
The documentary is a bit uneven, and it fails to ask enough of the tough questions or get the great interviews; but you won’t be bored watching it.
2 stars out of 5.