Hulu’s “Welcome to Chippendales” crime drama depicts the true life story of Somen “Steve” Banerjee (portrayed by Kumail Nanjiani), the Indian immigrant who founded the multimillion dollar global male stripping empire that swept the nation in the ’80s and ’90s.
The eight-part limited series from “Pam & Tommy” creator Robert Siegel centers on Banerjee’s rise and fall in an outrageous plot filled with greed, scandal, and murder. In addition to Nanjiani, the show also stars Nicola Peltz Beckham as Dorothy Stratten, Dan Stevens as Paul Snider, and Murray Bartlett as Nick De Noia — the Chippendales choreographer/Banerjee’s business partner who (spoiler alert) was murdered in 1987.
“Welcome to Chippendales” isn’t the first retelling of this tragic crime saga. Discovery+ released a four-part docuseries in September 2021 titled “Curse of the Chippendales,” which chronicles the same harrowing tale through interviews with former Chippendales dancers and original business leads. Though Hulu’s show — which rolled out its first two episodes on Nov. 22 — digs into the nitty gritty of what transpired within the Chippendales enterprise, viewers are curious to know what happened to some of those key players.
Read ahead for everything we know about the real-life people featured in “Welcome to Chippendales.”
What Happened to Somen Banerjee?
The Chippendales founder, born in Bombay, India, debuted his sensational male striptease troupe in 1979, quickly attracting women all over to his Los Angeles nightclub. As detailed in “Welcome to Chippendales,” Banerjee let nothing stand in the way of his success, even going as far as resorting to murder to keep his empire intact.
In the early ’80s, Banerjee decided to expand his business across the country and enlisted the help of Emmy-winning television producer and choreographer De Noia. The deal they arranged awarded De Noia half the profits and rights to the Chippendales name from its touring engagements. The two eventually clashed over the show’s creative direction and profits and dissolved their partnership toward the end of the ’80s. Following that, the FBI claims Banerjee put a hit out on De Noia, who was found dead in his Manhattan office on April 7, 1987, from a gunshot wound to the face, ABC News reported.
On Sept. 2, 1993, Banerjee was arrested for allegedly “conspiring to kill former business associates who started a competing operation” and indicted for “conspiracy to violate the federal murder-for-hire statute,” the United Press International reported. He was also indicted for five counts of “causing others to travel in foreign commerce and to use facilities in foreign commerce to further the murder scheme” and charged for the murders of his other former associates Mike Fullington, Steve White, and Read Scot, in addition to racketeering and arson.
On July 29, 1994, Banerjee pled guilty to racketeering in federal court — a charge that included arranging De Noia’s murder and attempted arson — agreed to forfeit his interest in Chippendales’ parent company, Easebe Enterprises, Inc., per the Los Angeles Times. He was to be sentenced to 26 years in prison but was found dead in his prison cell on Oct. 23, 1994, from an apparent suicide.
What Happened to Somen Banerjee’s Wife, Irene?
Banerjee was married to a woman named Irene (played by Annaleigh Ashford in “Welcome to Chippendales”), whom he tied the knot with some time in the ’80s. The pair had two children together, Lindsay and Christian, and stayed together until Banerjee’s death in 1994. The New York Post reported that shortly before his sentencing, Banerjee transferred his Chippendales company to Irene, who died on Feb. 8, 2001.
What Happened to Dorothy Stratten?
Stratten was a former Playboy model who was married to nightclub promoter and Chippendales employee Snider, who discovered her in 1978 when she was just a teenager serving ice cream out at a Dairy Queen in Vancouver, Canada. According to ABC News, Snider groomed Stratten and helped launch her modeling and acting career after he convinced her to pose for a nude photoshoot. The two married in June 1979 shortly after Stratten moved to Los Angeles, but she died at the age of 20 in August 1980.
Shortly before her death, Stratten was rumored to be having an affair with director Peter Bogdanovich, whom she worked with while filming 1981’s “They All Laughed.” She and Snider fought about the affair until the latter received a letter stating he and Stratten were “separated physically and financially,” Village Voice reported. The two met up on Aug. 14, 1980, to discuss a financial settlement of their divorce, during which Snider shot and killed Stratten before also killing himself. Stratten was later buried at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.