October 24, 2021

How Chippendales’ Male-Stripping Empire Led to Bloody Homicide

5 min read


There’s no actual “curse” in Curse of the Chippendales, however there may be loads of titillating stripping and sensationalistic crime in Discovery+’s four-part docuseries, premiering Sept. 24. An amusing look again on the Eighties phenomenon that took America—and, specifically, girls’s libidos—by storm, it’s a saga of intercourse, greed, cash, homicide and G-strings, all of it instructed with a welcome measure of excellent humor. Half underworld thriller, half nostalgic celebration of an iconic fad, author/director Jesse Vile’s investigation echoes its topic by offering an entertainingly tawdry mixture of thrills and laughs, in addition to some acquainted commentary on the way in which wherein ambition can typically curdle into sociopathy.

The Chippendales story begins with Steve Banerjee, who in 1975 was the proprietor of Los Angeles’ Future II nightclub, the one disco spot within the metropolis that stayed open till 4 a.m. A soft-spoken, self-made Indian immigrant, Banerjee was an entrepreneur in quest of one thing that will elevate his institution above the remaining, and he discovered what he was searching for courtesy of Paul Snider, a promoter described as “sleazy and oily” by Banerjee’s former lawyer Bruce Nahin. Snider was courting mannequin Dorothy Stratten, who was making an attempt to make it as a Playboy Playmate, and he prompt to Banerjee that he stage a male strip present geared toward a feminine viewers. What started as “experimental artwork” swiftly blossomed right into a smash hit that Banerjee named after a furnishings model, and which was developed—with characters that tapped into numerous fantasies (cowboy, cop, Zorro, and so forth.) and a signature uniform of bowties, cuffs and spandex pants modeled after Playboy Bunnies—by grasp of ceremonies Richard Barsh.

Save for a number of extraneous dramatic recreations, Curse of the Chippendales depends on copious archival footage—of performances, rehearsals, information broadcasts, and residential motion pictures—and candid new interviews to inform its story. It not often dawdles, capturing the frenzied pleasure created by Chippendales’ skyrocketing success. Banerjee had clearly tapped into one thing larger than he’d first realized, and regardless of complaints from neighbors, evangelicals and native authorities, the present started attracting huge crowds and media protection. Within the course of, it made stars out of dancers like Roger Menache, Dan Peterson, and Michael Rapp, the final of whom was an East L.A.-born health fanatic who discovered his calling with Chippendales, finally climbing up the ladder to grow to be the centerpiece of its nationwide marketing campaign as “The Excellent Man.”

In a prolonged new dialog, Rapp speaks overtly about the way in which wherein Chippendales gave him the boldness he’d beforehand lacked, and his skilled achievements had been matched by his private fortunes, highlighted by his marriage to self-described Chippendales “groupie” and mannequin Nancy Dineen, with whom he had a son. The couple moved to New York Metropolis to assist open Chippendales’ Manhattan outpost, which was overseen by Nick De Noia, a kids’s tv present producer who turned the corporate’s driving inventive pressure. De Noia was, by all accounts, a demanding perfectionist and articulate showman who cherished the highlight. His stewardship was instrumental in turning Chippendales right into a ubiquitous cultural presence, however it additionally put him at odds with Banerjee, who resented De Noia for being every little thing he was not (gregarious, charismatic, artistically ingenious), and for publicly taking credit score for a present that Banerjee himself had based.

A deal made on a serviette that granted De Noia full management of any future Chippendales touring operations (whereas leaving the LA and NYC golf equipment to Banerjee) solely additional heightened tensions as soon as nationwide performances turned the corporate’s most profitable moneymaker. Homicides quickly adopted. Jealous of Stratten, who was pulling away from him in favor of Hugh Hefner, Snider shot his Playmate girlfriend lifeless after which fatally turned the gun on himself in 1980. Then, in 1987, De Noia was assassinated in his Manhattan workplace by a mysterious assailant. De Noia’s affiliate producer Candace Mayeron instantly suspected Banerjee because the mastermind behind the plot. But with no proof or leads, the case remained chilly for years, throughout which era Chippendales turned a family model, albeit one which finally couldn’t maintain its appeal in large theaters that prevented the very dancer-client interplay that had initially made it successful.

As soon as issues began to collapse, they crumbled rapidly, together with with a murder-for-hire scheme focusing on former Chippendales dancer Learn Scot, who had left the corporate to hitch rival Adonis: The Males of Hollywood. Curse of the Chippendales recounts this salacious flip of occasions, in addition to Rapp’s descent into medicine, adultery and narcissism, with a properly calibrated mix of gravity and lightheartedness, with the funniest bit being director Vile convincing the long-retired Rapp to carry out his previous showstopping routine for the digital camera. There’s no strategy to grapple with the historical past of Chippendales with out some levity, and Vile makes certain to maintain every little thing breezy at any time when attainable, be it by way of quite a few clips of feminine patrons fawning over beefcakes, or a short snippet of the legendary Saturday Evening Reside sketch that includes Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley as auditioning Chippendales wannabes.

As soon as issues began to collapse, they crumbled rapidly, together with with a murder-for-hire scheme focusing on former Chippendales dancer Learn Scot…

In its last chapter, Curse of the Chippendales leaves behind the glitz and glamour (and oiled our bodies) of the male revues as a way to concentrate on federal brokers’ efforts to nab Banerjee for De Noia’s slaying, the tried execution of Scot (through syringes full of cyanide and a hitman referred to right here as “Strawberry”), and a collection of Los Angeles firebombings that took out Chippendales’ competitors through the Eighties. Thus, a wild story of flipped informants, wiretaps, and conferences in Europe unfolds, all of it culminating in essentially the most predictable style attainable—since, in any case, Banerjee was the only real individual with a motive to commit these grave offenses. That leaves the docuseries feeling considerably anticlimactic, though it a minimum of advantages from a group of secretly recorded conversations between Banerjee and his confederate Ray Colon that undoubtedly reveal him to be a businessman of the primary cutthroat order.

Nonetheless, even when it turns into a bit strange by its finale, in addition to falls wanting explaining the standing of the model at this time, Curse of the Chippendales by no means overstays its welcome. And, after all, it’s acquired loads of G-strings, if that’s what you’re searching for.



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