The real story behind Welcome to the Chippendales

Spoilers for Welcome to Chippendales forward

There used to be Magic Mike, there were Chippendales. Hulu’s limited series Welcome to Chippendales, premiering on November 22, reports the true story behind the revolutionary all-male revue founded by Somen “Steve” Banerjee in 1980 in Los Angeles. But this tale of strippers, jealousy and murder is stranger than anything Hollywood could come up with.

The eight-episode docu-drama based on a true crime scenario, starring Kumail NanjianiJuliet Lewis and White lotusMurray Bartlettis based on the 2014 book, Deadly Dance: The Chippendale Murders. The series, like the book, delves into the rise of a popular women’s men’s strip club and the fall of its owner. But for Nanjiani, who plays Banerjee, the man is more than a villain; he exemplifies the American dream gone wrong. “He’s very uncomfortable in his own skin,” Nanjiani said new York times. “The only way for him to feel that he has value is to be successful. But I think he also felt a little ashamed of the way he was making money. Keep reading to learn the real story behind Welcome to Chippendales.

Who is Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee?

Banerjee was an Indian immigrant who moved to the United States in the 1960s. He worked for Mattel and managed a Mobil gas station in Southern California before buying the bankrupt Los Angeles club in 1975, which he named Destiny II. (In the series, Nanjiani’s Steve explains that the name suggested it was an extension of an already successful business.) But the dance club, which later hosted women’s mud wrestling and exotic dances, struggled to find its audience.

Four years later, Banerjee and his partner, lawyer Bruce Nahin, renamed it Chippendales in honor of the style of the club’s wooden furniture and started a ladies-only club where they could watch the men undress. “It was the first time anything was completely geared toward the ladies,” said Candice Mayeron, a former Chippendales associate producer. 20/20 in 2021. “We’ve built an environment where women can let it all out.”

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Kumail Nanjiani v Welcome to Chippendales

Lara Solanki—Hulu

How did Steve Banerjee come up with the idea for Chippendales?

Club promoter and pimp Paul Snyder (played by Dan Stevens) suggested to Banerjee that he turn his club into a strip club for women. “Paul Snyder had seen a review of gay men and thought it would be kind of nice and fun to do this for women,” Natalia Petrzela, podcast host Welcome to your fantasy, which covers the Chippendales murder mystery told Deputy in 2021. “And he brought the idea to Banerjee and that’s how it started.”

Snyder’s wife, Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratton (played by Nicola Peltz-Beckham), reportedly suggested that the shirtless Chippendale dancers wear bow tie collars and cuffs as a nod to the Playboy bunnies. In the A&E docuseries The Chippendales Murder Mysteries, Eric Gilbert, former creative director of playboy, argued that Hefner deserved credit for the Chippendales’ success. “Hugh Hefner gave the greatest gift to Steve Banerjee by allowing him to take that trademark cuff and collar design and turn it into a Chippendales look,” he said. “This reversal was so eye-catching that women were immediately locked into it.”

Banerjee hired Snider as the first host of Chippendales in 1979, but quickly replaced him after finding that he lacked the charisma needed for the role. In August 1980, Snyder killed Straten, from whom he was estranged, and himself. Stratten’s tragic death was the subject of two films: To Bob Fosse Star 80 and Death of a Centerfold: The Story of Dorothy Stratten Starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

Who is Nick De Noya?

Nick De Noia, played by Bartlett, was a charismatic choreographer who won two Emmy Awards for his work on the NBC children’s series Tales of a Unicorn. In 1981, Banerjee hired him to create routines for his Chippendales dancers, making him the company’s in-house choreographer, but the two often clashed. Former Chippendales dancer Read Scot said people thatthe pair were “going toe-to-toe and just yelling and swearing at each other” over the direction of the show.

In 1984, De Noia moved to New York and created a new Chippendales show that featured sexy Frankenstein send called “The perfect man.He later launched a successful tour under Chippendales Universal, an independent organization that paid Banerjee royalties for the right to use the Chippendale name. This tour brought in a lot of money for Banerjee, but caused a rift in the already shaky relationship between the founder and the choreographer.

Read more: Welcome to Chippendales He has no right to be this funny

Paul (Dan Stevens) and Dorothy (Nicola Peltz) in Welcome to the Chippendales (Erin Simkin—Hulu)

Paul (Dan Stevens) and Dorothy (Nicola Peltz) in Welcome to the Chippendales

Erin Simkin—Hulu

When did things start to go wrong for the Chippendales?

Soon after its inception, Chippendales became a cultural phenomenon that spawned sexy calendars, appearances by Phil Donahueand SNL parodies. As the success of Chippendales grew, De Noia became the face of the franchise, even earning the nickname “Mr. Chippendales”, which did not sit well with Banerjee. “I think that [nickname] helped fuel the anger Steve felt toward Nick,” Mayeron said El in 2021. “Their verbal battles turned violent.”

Banerjee had other problems besides her jealousy of De Noya. For years he engaged in corrupt business practices that put his empire at risk. In 1979, he hired a man to set fire to a rival nightclub, Moody’s Disco. Five years later, he tried to do the same with another competitor. Until 1987 Chippendales filed for bankruptcy after a a case of racial discrimination brought out by black UCLA law student Don Gibson after he was refused entry to the nightclub.

As Banerjee becomes more desperate to defend himself, he grows angrier about the deal he made with De Noia for the Chippendales tour. The contract, which De Noya wrote on a cocktail napkin, stated that De Noya would own the rights to the tour and they would split the profits from the tour 50/50 in perpetuity. As the tour becomes more successful, Banerjee becomes convinced that De Noia is stealing from him and hires Ray Colon, a former police officer and nightclub performer, to help him take De Noia down. On April 7, 1987 De Noya was shot to death as he sits at his desk in his office in New York.

What happened to Steve Banerjee?

For years, De Noya’s murder remained unsolved, which seemed to embolden Banerjee, who had bought back the tour rights after the choreographer’s death. In 1990, he again enlisted Colon’s help in the attempted murder of Michael Fullington, a former Chippendales dancer and choreographer, and two other former Chippendales dancers who had formed a rival troupe called Adonis: Men of Hollywood.

Colon’s hired hitman failed the job, but tipped off the FBI about the assassination plot. When the FBI searched Colon’s apartment, they found enough cyanide to kill 230 people, according to 20/20. After spending seven months in prison, Colon agrees to help the FBI build a case against Banerjee – no easy task. In June 1992, Colon met with Banerjee in the hope of extracting a confession from him, but Banerjee refused to answer his questions aloud. Instead, he responded using Post-Its, which he then immediately flushed down the toilet. The following year, Colon met with Banerjee in Zurich, Switzerland, and the FBI was able to obtain a recording of Banerjee admits to give Colon $500 to buy the weapons used in De Noya’s murder.

In September 1993, Banerjee was accused of enlisting Colon to commit the murder of De Noia and the attempted murder of three former Chippendales dancers. After pleading guilty to murder-for-hire, as well as attempted arson and racketeering, he took a plea deal that saw him serve 26 years in prison and forfeit his stake in Chippendales. On October 23, 1994, hours before he was sentenced for the contract killing of De Noya, Banerjee committed suicide.

“I was on the steps of the courthouse with our emcee and two of our dancers when someone came out and said there wouldn’t be a hearing because Steve had killed himself in jail the night before,” Mayeron said. El. “I felt cheated, a lot of the time.” Scott, who was one of Banerjee’s attempted targets, agreed, recounting 20/20“[Banerjee] he didn’t get the punishment he deserved. He didn’t serve the sentence for Nick De Noia, for destroying lives, for trying to kill people. He got away easily. He was a coward.

Did the Chippendales survive the scandal?

After Banerjee’s death, his ex-wife Irene Banerjee, who died in 2001, inherited Chippendales. The Banerjees are no longer involved in Chippendales, but Banerjee’s son, Christian, founded his own all-male revue, Strippendales, in 2020. It was not as I saw Magic Mike and I wanted to emulate what I had seen,” he told the new York Publish. “It came from a much deeper place in my soul.”

The Chippendales continue to hold a special place in culture. The traveling show is still performed around the world Residence in Las Vegas continues to be a popular destination 40 years after Banerjee opened the original club. “People aren’t just looking for sexual stimulation,” Petrzela said Los Angeles Magazine when asked how the Chippendales managed to survive the scandal. “They go out to have a social experience with their girlfriends. This is a safe place for women.

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