Muscular men dressed only in bow ties and belts to pamper women in smoky woods is not a legacy often associated with American naturalized immigrants from India.
But he did what Bombay-born Steve Banerjee did when he broke out of the mold of American dream traditions that used to be rooted in South Asia. Club of striptease male Chippendales in Los Angeles in 1979.
The rest is history. Banerjee made a fortune from what turned out to be an enormously successful franchise. If we add sex, drugs and murder, Banerjee’s story becomes a sensational story.
in India Banerjee and his works are hardly known. In America, the Chippendales brand seems to have eclipsed its founder’s controversial reputation. This is changing.
reserved and collected
Nearly three decades after his death, a podcast and a variety of television shows — including the most recent Hulu drama, Welcome to the Chippendales (“Chippendale”), starring Kumail Nanjiani, recalls Banerjee’s story.
“Most people think that the Chippendales founder was an extraordinary party animal who chased women, took drugs and drank lavishly,” says Scott Macdonald, co-author of the 2014 book. Dance of the Dead: The Chippendales Murders (“Dance of Death: The Chippendales Murders”).
“Steve was a reserved and collected man with the clear goal of creating a global brand to rival Disney, Playboy or Polo.”
It’s an “exceptional piece of history,” says historian Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, whose podcast Welcome to Your Fantasyrenewed interest in the legacy of the Chippendales.
Respectful, dark and shy, Banerjee stood in stark contrast the fantasy of “white, yellow and Californian people” who sold his liberty.
Coming from a family of printers, Banerjee left India for Canada in the late 20s in the 1960s, soon arriving in California, where he owned a gas station in Los Angeles.
But Banerjee’s ambition was greater. “I want to drive that car,” he would say when people showed up to show off their luxury vehicles, Petrzela says.
In the 1970s, Banerjee used her savings to buy a bar in Los Angeles, which she called Destiny 2, and it aimed to attract crowds: sports backgammonmagic shows and dirt between women wrestlers.
In 1979, Paul Snider, a nightclub promoter, suggested Banerjee wait strippers the men – usually seen only in fancy dress clubs – were destined for the women’s show.
Then, the bar was already named Chippendales to suggest that it was a classy place.
Spectacles striptease Prostituted women everywhere gathered throughout West Los Angeles; from nail salons to spasParsley on the podcast.
The Chippendales were an immediate success and soon attracted large numbers of women during the night.
“Disneyland for Adults”
Inspired by Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Bunnies, the dancers wore cuffs tied around their wrists and necks and form-fitting black pants.
For 1980s America, “This is bad,” says Petrzela.
But Banerjee’s Chippendales also came at the right time, on the eve of the sexual revolution of the 1970s when women’s empowerment and sexual liberation could become more comfortable, the historian explains.
women work a place where “they have fun and can be excused”;said Barbara Ligeti, a supporter of the club, in a series of letters The Secret Murders of the Chippendales from A&E
“When you see each other, have a few drinks, press your hips, put $20 in a decent man’s chest,” he added.
Banerjee wanted to create a kind of “adult Disneyland,” a brand big enough to emulate her heroes: Hugh Hefner and Walt Disney.
A show to go on
He met himself in the early 1980s Nick DeNoiaEmmy-winning director and choreographer who convinced him the show needed a revival.
Chippendales dancers and producers credit De Noia with turning the show around in an actual theatrical production with characters and plots.
De Noia helped produce the Chippendales New York production and expand it to the United States through a successful tour.
But things quickly reached a high level of tension between the two men, as the charismatic choreographer became a familiar face to the point. nicknamed “Mr. Chippendale” in the middle
Banerjee, on her part, remained in the background, running the Los Angeles operation.
As the differences and clashes between the two increased, De Noia and Banerjee broke up their partnership, making plans for the choreographers to form their own company, US Male, apparently.
This was the last straw for Banerjee, Chippendale’s former working partner, who helped De Noia in the new venture, said in the A&E documentary.
Many who knew Banerjee described him as a “paranoid” man who was obsessed with success It was a game that no one could win. “He believed that if others succeeded, he would take away the success,” Petrzela said.
As the clubs’ strip of competition emerged, Banerjee hired Ray Colon, a friend turned barbarian, to sabotage rivals.
Thus, in 1987, Colony Banerjee supplied the accomplice who shot De Noia to death in his office.
Although friends and associates were suspected of Banerjee’s involvement in the crime, it was a few years before FBI investigators were able to establish a connection.
Banerjee’s lawyer, Bruce Nahin, said the murder “doesn’t touch the mark at all”.
In 1991, while traveling to the UK with the Chippendales, Banerjee requested Colony to eliminate members from a rival company formed by dancers from the former club.
According to FBI evidence, the plan involved the release of cyanide, which Colonus named as an accomplice Classical.
But ClassicalRestless, he reported Colony to the FBI.
a distorted mirror
Colony was arrested and charged with conspiracy and conspiracy to kill. According to the US intelligence agency, 46 grams of cyanide were found in the expedition home.
Colony, however, pleaded not guilty and for months Banerjee remained in custody in his custody.
“It was only after Steve refused to help him by paying the lawyer that Ray finally broke up with him,” MacDonald said.
In 1993, the FBI finally managed to gather enough evidence against Banerjee by using Colonia to secretly record the conversation. Banerjee was arrested for racketeering, conspiracy and murder for hireamong other crimes. The defendant refused.
But after several months of trial, Banerjee received much of the 26 years in prison and accepted the forfeiture of Chippendale’s assets to the United States.
Petrzela claims that the businessman’s lawyers tried every means to prevent the company from going public, but to no avail. In October 1994, one day before he was sentenced, Banerjee was found dead in his cell.
“Very few American Indians know their history”says Anirvan Chatterjee, the organizer of the walking tour that tells the historical legacy of the South Asian community in Berkeley.
Banerjee’s life was “a twisted mirror version of your typical 1990s California-India business story,” he says, and it contradicted every stereotype about the community.
In his research, Petrzela found that Banerjee had worked to assimilate and become a true Californian businessman, but his Indian accent always stood out in his memories of his conversations.
“Letter” is always seen by others as very foreign and very Indian,” he says. “Even the dead, the first thing people do when commenting on him is to imitate the accent.”
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