Whenever you assume “Chippendales,” homicide might be fairly far down the listing of phrases that involves thoughts. The knowingly tacky Las Vegas-based dance troupe has lengthy been the largest recreation on the town with regards to male stripping (though Magic Mike provides them a run for his or her cash in the present day), however whereas these well-oiled hunks are in well-known, the troupe’s bloody origin story is way much less broadly recognized.
That is all about to vary because of Welcome to Chippendales, a brand new Hulu sequence from Pam & Tommy creator Robert Siegel, which chronicles the wild and violent historical past of the Chippendales and its founder, Somen “Steve” Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani). The present is predicated on the 2014 nonfiction guide Lethal Dance: The Chippendales Murders, by Ok. Scot Macdonald and Patrick MontesDeOca, and as such, most of its seemingly outlandish twists are literally taken straight from actual life.
In reality, even the star of the present felt that method. “One of many first conversations I had with Robert Siegel, our creator, he informed me he had the eight episode breakdown,” Nanjiani recalled in an interview with E! News. “I stored stopping him to be like, ‘Did that actually occur?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, that is all actual.’”
Here is a couple of key issues to find out about that wild actual story.
Chippendales began as a determined bid to save lots of a failing enterprise.
Again within the Seventies, Banerjee was operating a struggling Los Angeles membership known as Spherical Robin, making an attempt to determine find out how to make his joint stand out from the remainder. An formidable immigrant from India, Banerjee had lengthy harbored a dream of constructing his personal enterprise empire, and after operating a number of different kinds of enterprise (together with a fuel station and a backgammon membership) he felt his time was operating out. He needed to make this work.
First, he tried turning the place right into a disco named Future II. When that failed to herald the crowds, Banerjee had one other thought, one that will actually make his membership stand out: male strippers. Accounts range as to the place this concept got here from; some say it was stolen from an current membership in Redondo Seashore; others say it got here from membership promoter Paul Snider.
“Paul Snider had seen some homosexual male evaluate and thought it will be type of like hammy and enjoyable to do that for ladies,” historical past professor Natalia Petrzela informed Vice. “And he introduced the concept to Banerjee and that’s the way it started.”
Chippendales was successful from day one—and sure, it actually was named after the furnishings.
Banerjee conceived of the present as campy, however elegant, with the strippers sporting cuffs and bow ties. He named the present after the Chippendale furnishings fashion, which has its roots within the 18th century—reportedly, this was as a result of the membership was adorned with plenty of Chippendale fashion items.
Within the lead-up to the present’s launch, Banerjee plastered attention-grabbing fliers throughout L.A., studying (per Vice): “Chippendales presents MALE EXOTIC DANCERS! Women Solely can be admitted throughout this present.”
And because it turned out, there was a niche available in the market for male strip exhibits focused at straight girls. Based on The New York Post, there have been “traces across the block” as quickly because the present opened, and Chippendales grew to become the empire that Banerjee had at all times dreamed of. He additionally proved to be a pure at advertising and marketing, framing the present as pro-feminist. He informed the Los Angeles Instances (per All That’s Interesting) that Chippendales was “enhancing the reason for girls’s lib, by offering a spot the place girls can go and have a look at males.”
Inside a few years, Banerjee was increasing his horizons, opening golf equipment in New York, Dallas, and Denver, and launching a touring troupe that carried out worldwide. Within the early Nineteen Eighties, he employed Nick De Noia, an Emmy-winning TV producer who he hoped may assist him navigate the increasing enterprise. (De Noia is performed within the sequence by Murray Bartlett).
Banerjee and De Noia’s partnership was profitable, however fraught.
And right here’s the place issues begin to go south, psychologically talking. Banerjee and De Noia apparently butted heads from the beginning—per The New York Post, they had been “like oil and water” personality-wise. Each males needed management of the corporate—and De Noia quickly made Banerjee a suggestion.
On its floor, it appeared cheap: De Noia would develop and launch an east coast Chippendales present based mostly in New York, and preserve 50 p.c of the income. However there was a caveat to the deal, which Banerjee apparently failed to understand.
“Nick wrote on a serviette that he has the correct to take Chippendales on the highway and personal it in perpetuity,” unique Chippendales member and host Dan Peterson says on the podcast Welcome to Your Fantasy (which is important listening when you’re seeking to delve deeper into this saga). And Banerjee agreed—however solely as a result of he didn’t perceive what he was signing away. As Peterson explains: “Steve signed it and [gave] away essentially the most worthwhile a part of the enterprise as a result of he didn’t know what perpetuity meant.”
Banerjee in the end employed successful man to take out his enterprise accomplice.
Over the following few years, Banerjee grew to become increasingly more enraged as he watched De Noia take all of the credit score (and 50 p.c of the income) from Chippendales’ rising nationwide success. Based on ABC News, he additionally started to doubt that De Noia was paying him his fair proportion of the touring income.
Lastly, Banerjee enlisted a Bronx-born good friend, Ray Colon, to prepare successful on De Noia. He apparently did this as a result of he wrongly assumed that Colon had connections to the mob. “He match the stereotype of a Mafia soldier,” explained Ok. Scot Macdonald, who co-authored the guide that Welcome to Chippendales is predicated on. “He was intense.”
In lieu of any mafia connections, Colon recruited an confederate named Gilberto Rivera Lopez to assist him take out De Noia.
On April 7, 1987, Colon and Rivera Lopez flew from Los Angeles to New York. ABC News, they visited the Chippendales east coast HQ in NYC, discovered De Noia in his workplace, and shot him lifeless.
Each assassins fled earlier than the police arrived, and the case remained unsolved for years. And since there was nothing to hyperlink Banerjee to the crime in any respect (on the time), it appeared to him that he’d gotten away with homicide. So why not do it once more?
Banerjee started making an attempt to take out hits on all his opponents.
Doing the Nineteen Nineties, Banerjee (through Colon) tried to take out successful on a gaggle of workers at Adonis, a profitable male strip membership in London. The membership had been began by former Chippendales performers, and Banerjee resented what he noticed as their disloyalty.
“They had been instantly now competing with Chippendales,” FBI particular agent Scott Garriola informed ABC Information. “So what would you anticipate Banerjee to do when he has a contest? He needed these folks killed.”
Colon ended up getting ratted out by the person he’d tried to rent to hold out the hit in London. In 1991, he was arrested by the FBI, charged with conspiracy and homicide for rent. He in the end cooperated with the feds, and informed them that Banerjee was behind not solely the Adonis scheme, but additionally the homicide of Nick De Noia.
After an unsuccessful sting operation, the FBI had been lastly capable of get a confession out of Banerjee by having Colon meet up with him at a resort room in Switzerland. Brokers from the bureau had been within the subsequent room, recording their dialog as Banerjee talked about plotting the murders, and giving Colon the cash to purchase the gun that he used to kill De Noia.
Banerjee was lastly arrested in September of 1993, and pleaded responsible to racketeering and homicide for rent expenses. However the day earlier than he was attributable to be sentenced, he died by suicide.
“He did not get the punishment he deserved. He did not serve the time for Nick DeNoia, for destroying lives, for making an attempt to kill folks,” former Chippendales performer Learn Scot informed ABC Information. “He obtained out simple. He was a coward.”
Emma Dibdin is a contract author based mostly in Los Angeles who writes about tradition, psychological well being, and true crime. She loves owls, hates cilantro, and might discover the queer subtext in actually something.