What's the real story behind "Welcome to the Chippendales"?

How much of Hulu's true crime series "Welcome to Chippendale" is real?

Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for the Hulu series, Welcome to Chippendales


Murder, sex and conspiracy are the mainstays of the Hulu series Welcome to Chippendale, which chronicles the murky behind-the-scenes early days of the world-renowned male strip show. The series is fascinating for its sordid history, but not everything shown on screen turns out to be as real as one might think. Here's everything "Welcome to Chippendale" got right, left out and made up over its eight-episode run.

The Unvarnished Truths Within the Series

For a number of reasons, it is almost impossible for any historical TV series to recreate the events of the story with complete accuracy. Television producers must deal with the unreliable witness memories and secrets lost over time by those who are no longer alive. There's also the impossible task of condensing a sprawling history into a limited number of episodes with complete character arcs. When everything is shot, edited, and released, the final cut often feels more like a revisionist history than the real thing. While Welcome to Chippendale certainly fits the bill, many of the central characters and events are indeed verifiable.

The Characterization of Steve Banerjee and Nick De Noia

Series central characters Somen (Steve) Banerjee and Nick De Noia, voiced by Kumail Nanjiani and Murray Bartlett is just like real life on the show. While neither is alive, testimonies from those in the same circle and countless recordings of them from the period suggest that one of the most fascinating aspects of "Welcome to Chippendale" is its focus on the development of these two characters. loyalty.

Banerjee was indeed an Indian immigrant who worked his way up from gas station manager to bombastic club owner. Camera shy, he hides in the shadow of his own club, avoiding the spotlight while hating those who revel in the stardom associated with the Chippendales name. Behind closed doors, he's a murderous businessman who doesn't mind taking matters into his own hands and circumventing the law in order to amass his fortune and challenge his competitors. Banerjee didn't like having a chain of command when running Chippendales. Every employee in the organization reports directly to him, thereby maintaining control over all aspects. Former dancers and collaborators of the brand recalled that no one but Banerjee herself knew all the company's goings-on. As rival dance troupes, knockoff merchandise As internal strife began to emerge, Banerjee's appetite for crime grew, with arson, murder and illegal business practices overpowering the brand.

De Noia, as portrayed on the show, was an energetic, larger-than-life choreographer and producer. Before joining the Chippendales crew, he won an Emmy for the short-lived children's TV show Unicorn Tales while living in New York, and had just traveled to Los Angeles for the show when his life met Banerjee. His arrogance and grandiosity were never hidden, and he began to be recognized as the creative force behind Chippendale as his ideas propelled Chippendale onto the global stage with the opening of a New York club and world tour. This, along with the fateful napkin lunch - in which Steve inadvertently signed up the rights to the most lucrative asset in his empire - would be the catalyst for years of enmity between the two moguls.

The Corroding Decadence of Chippendales

As described in the episode, before Nick DeNoah came on board, Chippendale was a bit of a bawdy comedy show in which regular men groped around and stripped women casually. Even so, it's taking off and making a name for itself. Banerjee did call the local church With TV stations trying to maximize free advertising, the club is finally making money after a series of failed strategies. As De Noia restructured the show to focus on choreography and clever storytelling, it began to soar to new heights. However, sex remains at its core, with dancers orgying patrons in the back. Welcome to Chippendales also seems to paint an accurate picture of how the drug's centrality to the nightlife scene looms over its character.

The live performance features a black dancer named Hodari Sababu, embodied by the character Otis (Quentin Plair), who has been battling discrimination. He was excluded from the prolific calendar and treated with degrading exoticism by fans and the show itself. He would eventually try to create an all-black calendar called Black Gold, which was a key factor in his falling out with Banerjee.

The Perfect Man

The crown jewel of Nick De Noia's choreography with The Chippendales is truly embodied in Welcome to Chippendales. The act is called "The Perfect Man," not "Hunkenstein" in the show, but it does revolve around a scientist trying to create the perfect man Others' best feature, and will be the final act of almost any Chippendales show, whether in Los Angeles, New York or on tour.

Some Half-Truth Acknowledgments

There is also a series of mini-plot points drawn from true events. Many celebrities frequent the Chippendales in New York and the flagship club in Los Angeles, including Calvin Klein and Brooke Shields, who appear on the Hulu series. There is indeed a lawsuit over a discriminatory loyalty card that only non-white customers can buy. A typographical error caused hundreds of 31-day calendars to be scrapped, costing the club a million dollars. And, Banerjee did declare bankruptcy near the end of his control of the Chippendale empire. But the show tends to miss many of the nuances of this twisted history.

The Idea for a Male Strip Show

In the first episode of "Welcome to Chippendale", Banerjee secretly meets with Paul Snyder and his playmate girlfriend Dorothy Stratten (Dan Stevens and Gula Peltz). After hiring Snider as his club promoter, they tried a series of failed ideas until one night Banerjee got the idea for a male strip show after the glitzy couple took him to see gogo dancers In a gay club. That really couldn't be farther from the truth. The show made it sound like the idea was purely Banerjee's, which set up a series-long bet for Nanjiani's character to defend that the idea was his and not De Noia's. But in fact, Paul Snider had the idea while attending a gay strip event in Canada before arriving in Los Angeles. He then pitched the idea directly to Steve Banerjee during their first meeting. The truth is that Snyder and Stratten were murdered/suicided after ruthlessly rescinding their contract with Banerjee.

Prostitution at the Club

Much of what's been covered up by the Hulu show is that the male dancers and hosts at the Chippendales clubs run a nefarious prostitution ring. They would charge more than $1,000 for sexual services, resulting in at least one altercation with the police, an aggressive female customer pointing a dancer at gunpoint, and giving new meaning to the orgy dressing room in the back. What appears to be careless debauchery on the show is actually the main income of these dancers, leading to numerous spats with neighbors. People who live near the venue will later tell on the podcast "Welcome to Your Fantasy," which faithfully documents Chippendales saga, there are often people who use condoms and have sex with random people on their front lawns.

Hefner and Banerjee

In the early days of the Chippendales, before the deaths of Paul Snider and Dorothy Stratten, Hugh Hefner was de facto patron of the club. On numerous occasions, Banerjee has mingled with his longtime idol. Hefner was even allowed to get around the ladies-only rule, as the only men were allowed to visit during the show. Through Stratten, Hefner legally agreed that the men of the Chippendales were allowed to wear playmate collars and cuffs in their acts.

Dreams of Disneyland

Along with Hugh Hefner, Walt Disney is another major idol of Steve Banerjee. The series decided not to mess with a powerful mouse, but Banerjee's main goal was to integrate the Chippendales directly into the Disneyland theme park. At that time, Disneyland had an amusement facility called the Carousel of Progress, and riders could experience the progress of human technology during the carousel. Banerjee wanted his own carousel, one that showcased the evolution of humans from cavemen to the present, with scantily clad Chippendale dancers playing Neanderthals, gladiators and soccer players, among other roles. The idea never caught on, especially since Banerjee wanted it to happen inside a Disney theme park, but Steve often said that if Walt was still alive, he'd be gnashing his teeth.

Women's Lib

Some of the most striking nuances of Steve Banerjee's marketing strategy captured the women's liberation movement. While those close to Banerjee later told him he didn't care about the movement and only saw it as a way to make more money and further advertising, the idea of ​​strip clubs for women even Bigger than he bargained for. The club even became the site of events hosted by women's liberation advocate Gloria Allred, a prominent attorney in cases such as the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade.

A Tale of Two Arsons

During Banerjee's campaign, competitive male dance performances began not only across the United States and abroad, but even in Los Angeles. Steve actually tried to set the fire twice, but was unsuccessful. The two clubs he tried to burn were Moody's Disco and The Red Onion, not Electric Tomato. This is just the beginning of Banerjee's transformation from immigrant success story to Scarface-esque crime boss. While the series shows an arson case and a blow to Nick De Noah, Steve Banerjee actually often turns to criminals for some conflicts.

Nuances of the Membership Card Class Action Lawsuit

Although the lawsuit surrounding Banerjee's attempt to prevent non-white patrons from entering his club was included in Welcome to Chippendale, aspects of the events surrounding the trial were not clearly mapped out. According to the Los Angeles Times in 1985, the case was brought by a 26-year-old black law student named Don Gibson, who discovered that some of his white law school friends had been allowed in while he Was told that a membership card had to be purchased. They actually organize their own sting operation to capture the Chippendales bodyguards. Once they had undeniable evidence, they went to several agencies and sued the Chippendales and asked them to shut down. Things start to get more dire for incoming law school graduates. A car rental company tracked him down and gave him a diary they left in their rental car, recording all his whereabouts over a 10-day period. Then, later, Hodari Sababu, the only black dancer in the audience The Chippendales came to warn him and Banerjee attacked him. Ultimately, Banerjee settled the case by paying Gibson $10,000 and the other plaintiffs $85,000 and agreeing to change practices and make at least a quarter of Chippendales employees nonwhite.

Other Murder Attempts

There are a series of other hired killers in Chippendale's story. These attempted murders happened to others who had crossed paths with Steve Banerjee, from former dancers who left the company to join rival dance troops to those who stood in front of Banerjee. If Steve had his way, there would have been at least 30 murders by the time he was in prison, a former employee said. For example, on the podcast "Welcome to Your Fantasy," a former model, Dan Peterson, described being photographed on the beach for a 1984 calendar when he and the photographer were met with bullets raining down on them. on them. They all came out alive.

Bankruptcy Pressure on the Series is an Exaggeration

In the TV series, it appears that Banerjee's only option after the calendar misprint and lawsuits is to file for bankruptcy; however, in real life, it's much murkier than that. Total $95,000 The payouts to victims of discrimination lawsuits and the multimillion-dollar chaos on the calendar pale in comparison to the nearly $1 billion empire he has amassed. His lawyer at the time later confirmed that, in fact, Banerjee declared bankruptcy only to avoid future litigation and to avoid paying some of his debts if he had the money to pay them. Nick De Noia sued Banerjee, for example, when he broke the napkin contract when he organized the Chippendales dancers tour himself. But since declaring bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court technically controls Steve's money; he's become untouchable.

In the penultimate episode, Welcome to Chippendale, Steve finds himself in peril, greedily packing up his club past its check-in time and then having to deal with the police and fire department. However, in real history, the 150-person occupancy of the Chippendales has often been at least 100-200 people. Steve himself would have notified the police on at least two occasions and planned the raid as a surefire way to hit the prime-time news the next day.

US Male

Nick De Noia actually started working on his idea of ​​creating a The rival show was titled American Male, with the tagline "We Offer..." At the time of his murder, he was even casting models for the American Male Calendar. While he still works in Chippendales' New York office, he has largely relinquished his role with the company. The New York club and live touring dancer now says Nick makes random visits less than once a month just to check on his investments. If Banerjee knew about Nick's activities, then that might really be the motive behind the hired killer.

What the Series Completely Invented...

Only a few plot points are completely unexpected. These were added to enhance character development, or to replace information that the show's creators simply didn't have access to.

Nick's Love Triangle with Denise and Bradford

Nick De Noia's story in the Hulu series is marked by a conflicting love triangle between two characters, Denise and Bradford. In real life, however, neither exists as depicted in the show. Bradford (Andrew Rannells) is a complete fabrication of the series to add to the conflict over Nick's connection to Denise. new york clubs actually get funded A strange elderly couple who came up with the idea by Nick. Denise, played by Juliette Lewis, on the other hand, was based on a woman named Candance Mayeron. The parallels between Mayeron's and Lewis' performances are commendable, but the love triangle aspect seems misplaced to add some drama.

Tearaway Pants

While on the subject of Denise/Candace, as a brief side note, the show credits her with the creation of the ripped pants. However, the origin appears to be in NBA sportswear. Still, the Chippendales are certainly responsible for the public's shift in conscience toward tear-off clothing.

Irene's Endearing Presence

One of the show's most endearing characters is Steve Banerjee's wife Erin, played by Analie Ashford. Ashford's characterization is so intricate that you'd think it took her months to get to know Mrs. Banerjee and master all of her mannerisms. However, little is known about the real Irene. It is believed that she was indeed an accountant, but beyond that, her involvement with the Chippendales and her relationship with Steve are very much open to explanation. What is known is that after Steve's suicide, Erin took full control of the Chippendales, which she sold She paid $2.5 million for the film before she died of breast cancer in 2001. Annaleigh Ashford fills this gap with realistic possibilities.

The Adonis Hit

Steve could have gotten away with it after the police dropped the De Noia murder. That is, until Banerjee hires another killer for the next job on his seemingly endless list of killers. Chippendales went global by touring Europe, which has its own Chippendales-inspired show called Adonis, which employs a former Chippendales dancer named Read Scott. Steve hires a hit man to go to England and kill several dancers who were with Adonis. In the TV series, that task fell to Steve's loyal assistant Ray Colon, played by Robin de Jesus, who was then captured and used to trap Steve in Switzerland. The real-life story is a bit unusual, involving a petty killer named Errol Lynn Bressler, also known as "Strawberry," who planned to kill people using bricks and a cyanide syringe. Killed two Adonis dancers. At the last minute, Strawberry backed off and went to FBI custody in the DEA. The FBI caught up with Ray, who had hired Bresler. He pleaded not guilty after they found enough cyanide in his house to murder more than 200 people. Eventually, a deal was struck that Ray Colon would betray his boss and get Banerjee to confess that it had indeed happened in a hotel room in Switzerland.

Fact vs. Fiction, Some Final Thoughts

While the new Hulu series may stray too far from real events to legitimately be called true crime, what the series does right is that it builds compelling, complex characters that make for a version of the story that's totally worth watching.

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