The Wild True Story Behind Hulu's Welcome To Chippendales

kumail nanjiani in welcome to chippendales
(Image credit: Hulu)

Adding to the plethora of true crime shows out there, Hulu has recently released Welcome the Chippendales, which tells the wild story of Steve Banerjee, and the turbulent history of the club, Chippendales. It’s a story of greed, power, and jealousy that spiraled into a plot to murder multiple people. 

In terms of the show, we know that the true crime series about the famous strip club will follow the events of the club's rise, and Banerjee's fall. It stars Kumail Nanjiani, right off his role on Obi-Wan Kenobi, as Banerjee, and Murray Bartlett, a newly minted Emmy winner for his role on White Lotus, as Benerjee’s partner and eventual enemy, Nick De Noia. They lead the amazing ensemble of the Welcome to Chippendales cast as they tell the story of the club. 

As Welcome to Chippendales continues to unfold on Hulu, here is what really happened to Banerjee and Chippendales. 

Kumail Nanjiani as Steve Banerjee looking of the club in Welcome to Chippendales

(Image credit: Hulu)

Somen “Steve” Banerjee founded the Chippendales club, which became a multi-million-dollar empire. It was, and still is, known for being a strip club where the men do the stripping and the women watch, something that was not common before the ‘80s. 

Banerjee was an immigrant from Mumbai, India, and when he started chasing his dreams it led him to turn the bar Destiny II into a male strip club in 1979, according to People. Read Scot, a former performer at Chippendales explained the groundbreaking aspect of the club, telling ABC

The popularity, I think, was the first time that the equality door was kicked open for women to get the same kind of entertainment options that men have had for years. They could be rowdy, rude, vulgar even like men.

Chippendales went on to thrive through the ‘80s, and it began touring around Europe and the United States. There were also permanent clubs in New York City, Dallas, and Denver, along with the first club in L.A. However, with successful ideas, come people who replicate them, and as more clubs like his popped up, presenting competition, the wilder this story gets. 

Kumail Nanjiani in Welcome to Chippendales looking at Murray Bartlett

(Image credit: Hulu)

Nick DeNoia And Steve Banerjee Made A Deal On A Napkin

In an effort to expand the business, Banerjee hired Nick DeNoia to help him out. Before working at Chippendales, DeNoia had been an Emmy-winning producer and choreographer. According to ABC 7, the two had conflicting creative visions for the show, which was a major point of tension that led to them cutting a deal on a napkin. 

According to ABC, the deal made it so Banerjee had control over the business, and DeNoia had the rights to the tour. However, as time elapsed, this deal proved to be an even bigger point of contention between the two. This is because the tour was the most profitable part of the business, according to Scott Garriola, the FBI agent on the case, and Banerjee had become flustered with DeNoia’s success. Candace Mayeron, an associate producer at Chippendales, explained in the documentary Curse of the Chippendales (via The Independent):

Banerjee was motivated by jealousy – that Nick was getting the credit for Chippendales, jealousy that Nick was getting half of the door. He was jealous of Nick’s ability to handle all the attention.

Jealousy and greed is apparently what led to DeNoia’s murder, according to ABC 7 and Garriola. 

Murray Bartlett as Nick DeNoia in Welcome to Chippendales

(Image credit: Hulu)

Nick DeNoia Was Murdered

On April 7, 1987, DeNoia was found dead in the Chippendales office in New York City. The former creative director, Eric Gilbert told People “Banerjee was the first person to come to mind” when it came to suspects. 

According to Garriola, the FBI agent on the case, Banerjee hired Ray Colon to kill DeNoia because he was jealous of how successful his partner had become. The story from ABC states that Banerjee wasn’t a suspect initially, and according to The Independent the murder remained unsolved for years. However, Banerjee became a suspect when he bought back the touring rights from the DeNoia estate for $1 million, according to ABC.  

Meanwhile, more clubs like Chippendales popped up, creating competition. This included a club called Adonis, which employed multiple former Chippendales dancers, including Read Scot.

Dancers auditioning in Welcome to Chippendales.

(Image credit: Hulu)

Read Scot, And Two Others, Were Almost Murdered  

In 1991 Read Scot was on stage at Adonis in London when his business partner pulled him off the stage because there were policemen waiting to talk to him. Scot told People that Scotland Yard had come to tell him: 

There is a contract out for your life. It's going to be a cyanide injection…[Someone] will get close to you and inject you with a needle.

According to ABC, an FBI agent in Las Vegas got a tip from an informant called "Strawberry" who reported the plan to try and kill Scot and the other Adonis employees.

Scot continued in the People interview explaining how he reacted to the news:

I got this cold chill as a detective told me, 'You can run and hide or you can stay and we catch [the killer] before he gets to you.' It's like something you hear in a movie. It didn't seem like real life.

This all went down a month after Scot left Chippendales for Adonis. He was also part of a bigger plan from Banerjee that reportedly included the murder of DeNoia, and the planned hits on Michael Fullington, who was a dancer, and Steve White, who had been a producer at Adonis. Scot had worked his way up at Chippendales, and was in direct contact with both DeNoia and Banerjee, meaning he witnessed their fall-out firsthand before he left for Adonis.

While Scot survived, he did say he lived in fear for years, noting to People that he was always looking over his shoulder. 

Kumail Nanjiani as Steve Banerjee in court in Welcome to Chippendales

(Image credit: Hulu)

Steve Banerjee Was Arrested And Pleaded Guilty For Murder-For-Hire, Racketeering, And Arson

According to the UPI Archives, Banerjee was arrested on September 2, 1993, for "allegedly conspiring to kill former business associates who started a competing operation" and was "indicted for conspiracy to violate the federal murder-for-hire statute." 

He was indicted for five counts of “causing others to travel in foreign commerce and to use facilities in foreign commerce to further the murder scheme,” according to UPI. Federal prosecutors also told the publication that he was charged for the plots to murder Mike Fullington, Steve White, and Read Scot. 

A grand jury in Los Angeles also indicted the Chippendales owner for planning the murder of DeNoia, according to the LA Times. The jury also charged him with “racketeering and arson” following the investigation. 

In the end, Banerjee pleaded guilty in federal court for racketeering and got a plea bargain that sentenced him to 26 years in prison, according to the LA Times.  

Kumail Nanjiani stands menacingly behind dimly lit blinds inWelcome to Chippendales.

(Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

Steve Banerjee Was Sentenced To 26 Years In Prison, And He Died In 1994

While Banerjee was sentenced, a few hours before his sentencing was supposed to happen, he was found dead in his cell. 

According to the LA Times, correctional officers found him. Reonard McFadden, the executive to the warden at the detention center, said Banerjee had been dealing with depression, although there were no signs of suicidal tendencies. However, the federal prosecutor had told the federal magistrate-judge that Banerjee had said he planned “to leave the country or kill himself” if he was arrested according to the LA Times. 

As you can see, the story of Steve Banerjee and Chippendales is a wild one, with lots of twists and turns. Now, Hulu is presenting a show based on the true events for the 2022 TV schedule. If you are interested in watching Welcome to Chippendales you can watch new episodes Tuesdays with a Hulu subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.