FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Night Fever: New York Disco 1977-1979, The Bill Bernstein Photographs
November 18, 2016 – February 19, 2017
(New York, November 9, 2016) – The Museum of Sex (MoSEX) presents Night Fever: New York Disco 1977-1979, The Bill Bernstein Photographs, an exhibition that shows the sexually and socially radical multiculturalism embraced by the New York disco clubs of the late ‘70s.
The exhibition assembles 40 photographs from Bill Bernstein, taken from 1977 to 1979, in an immersive installation that invites viewers to experience the freedom and intoxication of the disco era. The clubs highlighted in the exhibition are GG’s Barnum Room, Le Clique, Xenon, Studio 54, Ice Palace, Crisco Disco, Paradise Garage, Electric Circus, The Fun House, and Hurrah. The unique context of these clubs allowed for unprecedented interaction between groups - straights danced with gays, whites with blacks and Latinos, young with old, and rich with poor. By publicly embracing alternate and previously hidden identities, these pioneers created revolutionary boundary-crossing communities of possibility and joy, paving the way for a future culture of inclusivity.
In December, 1977, Bill Bernstein was assigned by The Village Voice to cover an award presentation at Studio 54 in honor of President Carter’s mother Lillian. That evening, Bernstein began his two-year foray into the world of disco. That same month, the movie Saturday Night Fever became an unexpected blockbuster, propelling disco to new heights. All-disco radio stations sprung up in most major cities, musicians of every genre cut disco tracks, Donna Summer and the Bee Gees were everywhere and hundreds of fantastical, big-budget clubs sprung up across the globe, only to shutter when disco “died” in the early ‘80s mainstream. However in the Big Apple, where simultaneous power outages, sanitation strikes and widespread crime shook the city’s stability, disco’s promise of nightly reinvention became a way of life that not even the AIDS crisis could kill entirely.
You can sense that total commitment in the ecstatic faces and glowing bodies of Bernstein’s subjects in Night Fever: New York Disco 1977-1979. Bernstein captured Disco’s absolute epicenter, where the brazenly commercial and the unrepentantly underground intersected. While paparazzi chased Halston and Lisa Minnelli at Studio 54, Bernstein captured the equally charismatic party people those celebrities gathered to see. Entirely self-created and largely unseen since then, their stardom may have lasted only as long as a weekend, but even today, to quote Sylvester’s enduring disco classic, “it sure feels mighty real”.
Night Fever is an immersive experience, designed as a pop-up disco complete with an original Richard Long Audio System (infamously associated with clubs like Studio 54 and Paradise Garage) along with guest appearances by disco-era DJs. A fully operating bar will offer a retro 70s cocktail menu at retro 70s prices ($5.00 Cocktails, $4.00 Beers) 2pm-10pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 2pm-11pm from Friday and Saturday.
The exhibit is free to the public and accessible without Museum admission.
About Bill Bernstein
Bill Bernstein’s photographic career began in the 1970s, documenting pop culture, street photography, and portraits for The Village Voice. He later began shooting celebrity portraiture for Elle Magazine, among others. Bernstein’s work with Sir Paul McCartney, as his personal tour photographer, spanned a period of 15 years documenting rare, intimate and candid on-stage and off-stage moments of McCartney and his crew. His work has appeared in magazines and journals throughout the world. In 1980 Bernstein released Night Dancin’ with Ballantine Books, a title which has since become a collector’s item. His monograph DISCO: The Bill Bernstein Photographs was released in 2015 by Reel Art Press.
On the disco era, he says, “I am just happy that I was there, in the late 1970s, with my camera, to document this amazing time of acceptance and celebration of individuality. It was a “sneak-peak” at a world of inclusion that we are just beginning to see in our culture today.”
About Museum of Sex
The mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. Since opening in 2002, the museum has collaborated with world-renown cultural institutions, artists, and academics to create exhibitions and interactive programs that explore the best in current scholarship in the arts, sciences and humanities. From fine art to historical ephemera, its permanent collection is comprised of more than 20,000 sexually significant artifacts. www.museumofsex.com
Exhibition Curator: Lissa Rivera
Exhibition and pop-up bar Design: Jason Volenec
Introduction and text: Barry Walters
Lighting: Hervé Descottes for L’Observatoire
Story Producer and Editor: Kettie Jean
Audio Recordings: Adriana Kägi, Bethann Hardison, Christopher Duquette, Cory Daye, Eric Goode, Hal Rubinstein, Harold Streitman, Joey Arias, Maripol, Michael Holman, Mike Manetta,
Rick Ross, Scott Taylor
Sound design: Ibrahim Soliman
Sound Engineer: Neil Benezra
Logo design: Berger & Wild
Production and design assistance: Trey Tyler
Programming Advisor: Adrian Loving
Original “Richard Long Audio” Sound System: Craig “Shorty” Bernabeu for SBS Design
Music: Nicky Siano (Studio 54 DJ)
Cocktail menu: Jee-Han Song
Museum of Sex
233 Fifth Avenue (at 27th Street)
New York, NY 10016
(212) 689 6337
Sunday – Thursday: 10am – 9pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am – 11pm