Studio 54 Bartender who spent nights at Halston’s Apartment is a True Artist

Miestorm. Once known as Lenny 54 is truly a mystical being. We recently caught up at Old Town Bar just north of Manhattan’s Union Square. Miestorm entered walking confidently with that trademark youthful grin observing the high ceilings of the former 19th century German restaurant intensely and curiously through the eyes of an artist. That’s how Miestorm wants to be identified. As an artist. Not only as the popular bartender who inspired actor Ryan Phillippe’s character in the 1998 movie 54. Although it is eery how dead on Phillippe’s character resembles Miestorm. From the same kinky, blonde curly hair to the same soft tone of his voice. Although Phillippe’s characterization of him was accurate he was not impressed with the movie.

Photos courtesy of Miestorm and Miramax Films
Miestorm with then girlfriend and Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell. Ryan Phillippe portraying a character based on Miestorm with Mike Myers as Rubell. Photo left courtesy of Miestorm. Right Miramax Films.

Miestorm whose birth name is Leonardo grew up on farm way out east in the Hamptons. His father was a religious fanatic who was at odds with the young Leonardo. Miestorm was a name he created. Miestorm became a street kid with an interest in art. Although painful Miestorm told me that reflecting on his harsh childhood with me over a couple cheeseburgers is indeed cathartic. Like James Joyce before him this artist knew he had to leave his native soil to find a place to be free and ceaselessly express himself. He found that place in 1977 at New York’s Studio 54.

Photo Miestorm

Miestorm was hired by Steve Rubell as a bartender opening night at Studio 54. The first night Miestorm told Steve Rubell that he refused to pick up a single empty glass. “My job will be to entertain your guests!” he told Rubell. Entertain he did to the likes of Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Divine, and many others. Every evening Miestorm would be fired by general manager Michael Overington for not cleaning the bar. Miestorm would go running to Steve Rubell who would say” You can’t be fired! You’re needed here!” Rubell didn’t like the name Miestorm so he Christened him “Lenny 54.” Miestorm was very found of Rubell and called him Uncle Stevie. He said Uncle Stevie would give him anything he wanted. Anything. Although according to Miestorm Ian Schrager had the responsibility of club operations. Everything you would see on the dance floor. All the decorations and art work. That was all Ian. Miestorm doesn’t seem the least bit surprised by Ian Schrager’s spectacular success.

Often Halston would greet Miestorm leaving powdered candy on the bar before walking away. Many nights were spent crashing at Halston’s apartment. Miestorm recalls waking up in Halston’s apartment one late morning with everyone in the room scantily clad. That was some night! He added.

I couldn’t help but ask how much money he made every night while working at Studio 54. Miestorm claims that although he was on the payroll and received tips during opening hours most of his money was made after the crowds left the theater. He said not only was there cash dropped all over the place. There was so much expensive jewelry left behind! Much more money was made after hours sweeping cash and jewelry off the dance floor!

During his time in the spotlight Miestorm went on to have relationships with rock star Freddie Mercury as well as movie star Rock Hudson who Miestorm referred to as “quite a man.”

In 1979 after Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were convicted of tax evasion with the money he earned working at Studio 54 Miestorm traveled to Europe to work as a model and the desire to work as an artist.

Over the years Miestorm decided to focus more on his work as an artist. His art often shocking and eye opening is uniquely Miestorm. He sells his art on apparel, on textiles and in galleries. According to Miestorm “I am inspired by the world events, past and present, history and pop culture and various genres of film.” His extraordinary work was featured at last year’s Studio 54 exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. See his artwork at

Photo Miestorm. Portrait of the Artist

Miestorm also enjoys spending time in the kitchen. In addition to his artwork he would like to share with us a family recipe.

Studio 54 Disco Sauce sounds too hokey so we’re going with Grandfather Leonardo’s Pasta Sauce with a Miest touch!

The following was jotted down on a bar napkin:

medium large pot, 6 large tomato’s, 1 large onion, 1/2 clove of whole garlic, 3 cups water, 1/2 of whole green pepper, salt and pepper to taste, 1 sprig of kale- leaves only, 2 cap fills of virgin olive oil, 1 tea spoon of oregano.

cooking time on low heat, 4 hours.

when tomato’s are mushy, slowly add cup mixture to a blender and mix. Don’t add to much to the mixer at once or it will clog up. Continue cooking sauce for 2 more hours, taste along the way and tweak seasonings to taste. Mixture will start to break up at about 3 hours cooking time.

I love Colavita Organic Roman Rigatoni Pasta or fresh pasta

top with grated parmesan

no jar pasta sauce can beat fresh made

can be frozen in portions

4 thoughts on “Studio 54 Bartender who spent nights at Halston’s Apartment is a True Artist

  1. Miss you at those last days of the Backfence!! I didn’t work there as long as everyone else but I think those afternoon shifts were pretty good!

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