Drew Barrymore was among Studio 54’s youngest ever attendees

Bruno Cooke July 18, 2022
Drew Barrymore was among Studio 54’s youngest ever attendees
Photo by Pierre Perrin/Sygma via Getty Images

Named after the Midtown Manhattan street it sat on, the world famous Studio 54 nightclub played host to such notable patrons as Richard Pryor, Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Mick Jagger and Diana Ross – and, when she was just nine years old, actor Drew Barrymore.

She revealed as much during an interview with The Guardian newspaper in 2015

Barrymore experienced fame at an even younger age; ET sprung her into the limelight as a seven-year-old.

Why was Drew Barrymore at Studio 54 at such a young age, and what happened there?

Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

Drew Barrymore was among Studio 54’s youngest ever patrons

According to revelations published in The Guardian newspaper in 2015, Drew Barrymore first visited Studio 54 – under the auspices of her mother Jaid – at the age of nine.

It was at the nightclub she claims she tried drugs for the first time and danced with people the Guardian calls “famous young men”. It doesn’t specify who Barrymore met at Studio 54, but scroll down for a short list of some of the big names she met while at parties either in New York or on the west coast.

Drew had already been going out for a year by the time her mother took her to the famous New York nightclub. Age eight, she was calling herself a “party girl”; she and her mother would apparently go out with her mother’s friends “up to five times a week”.

In 2018, Drew Barrymore spoke about her time at Studio 54 with Canadian stand-up comedian Norm Macdonald – who died last year at the age of 61 – on an episode of his Netflix show.

Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Drew Barrymore traded school for Studio 54

During the interview with Norm Macdonald, reported in Today, Barrymore opened up further about her former substance abuse and addiction.

“I had a mum,” she said, “but she was more like my best friend.”

“She was like, ‘Do you want to go to school and get bullied all day, or do you want to go to Studio 54?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, absolutely! I don’t want to spend the day with these little f****** who are just awful.’ Kids are so mean.”

Drew now has two children of her own, both daughters: Olive (born 2012) and Frankie (born 2014). Barrymore divorced their father, art consultant Will Kopelman, in 2016.

Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Micheal Ochs Archives/Getty Images

She and her mother legally separated when Drew was 14

Drew Barrymore’s substance use started when she was 12 years old. Aged 13 she attempted suicide, according to All That’s Interesting

That same year – 1988 – her mother Jaid placed her in an institution for the mentally ill. Barrymore remained there for a year and a half, she says, having received zero warning from her mother. 

“It was like serious recruitment training and boot camp,” she said during her interview with The Guardian, “and it was horrible and dark and very long-lived, a year and a half. But”, she adds, “I needed it.”

“I needed that whole insane discipline. My life was not normal. I was not a kid in school with normal circumstances. There was something very abnormal, and I needed some severe shift.”

Drew became legally emancipated from her parents when she came out of the institution at the age of 14.

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Who did she meet at Studio 54?

Drew Barrymore’s visits to Studio 54 took place in the mid to late 1980s.

The nightclub reopened, having closed in February 1980, in September 1981. At the time it was the property of businessmen Mark Fleischman and Stanley G Tate (of Tate Enterprises). Its doorman was, at least for a period, Haoui Montaug, whose other gigs included manning the door at Hurrah, Danceteria and Palladium.

While at Studio 54, or in attendance at other parties on the east and west coasts, Drew Barrymore appears to have met and, at least to some degree partied, with Ratt founder Stephen Pearcy, singer-songwriter Billy Idol, singer Michelle Phillips, late actor Vincent Price and interior designer Barbara Lazaroff. 

She also attended Michael Musto’s party for Pia Zadora at the Palladium in 1986.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.