The man who once ruled New York City nightlife has told a media outlet that he plans to end the party in July.
Mark Fleischman, who owned Manhattan’s Studio 54, once the world’s most exclusive club, is now 82 and confined to a wheelchair. He told the New York Post that he plans to use the Swiss nonprofit assisted suicide group Dignitas to end his life on July 13. The group helps assisted suicides with a lethal dose of barbiturates after a lengthy screening process.
“I can’t walk, my speech is f–ked up and I can’t do anything for myself,” Fleischman told The Post. “My wife helps me get into bed and I can’t dress or put on my shoes. I am taking a gentle way out. It is the easiest way out for me.”
Fleischman now resides in Marina Del Ray, Calif. He said neurologists have been unable to diagnose his illness, which began in 2016.
He took over Studio 54 in December 1978 when partners Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager were raided and charged with tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. The charges were for reportedly skimming nearly $2.5M in unreported income from the club’s receipts.
Rubell and Schrager were sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and fined $20K each for the tax-evasion charge. They were sent to prison In February 1980, and Studio 54 was sold in November of that year for $4.75M to Fleischman, who had an extensive background in the hotel and nightlife industry. He reopened it, then sold it in 1984 to new owners.
The club finally closed in 1986.
Fleischman wrote a book about his experience for publisher Rare Bird. Inside Studio 54 chronicled the place where celebrities, friends, and the beautiful people sipped champagne and shared lines of cocaine using rolled-up hundred-dollar bills.
Studio 54 is the focus of a new installment of FX’s American Crime Story, now in development. Studio 54: American Crime Story will examine the fabled nightclub, which became an avatar of nightlife for the rich and famous.
Fleischman said he has been thinking about suicide for some time.
“I came to the decision slowly,” he said. “Two years ago, I decided that it wasn’t worth living. I took a lot of Xanax and ended up in the hospital.”
He was revived then. But he said, “I read a book about ending life. I read in there that the easiest way is to suffocate. But I did not want the pain. I was going to buy a gun. But my wife interceded. We started looking into a place where it would be legal to find someone to do it with.”