‘Curse Of The Chippendales’: Premiere Date Set For Discovery+ True-Crime Docuseries
Discovery+ on Monday said that Curse of the Chippendales, its four-part true-crime drama docuseries, is set to premiere on September 24.
The project, from Oscar- and Emmy-winning filmmakers Simon and Jonathan Chinn via Lightbox, unravels the dark side of the 1980s all-male striptease dance troupe founded by Steve Banerjee. On the crime side, it tackles the murder-suicide of Playboy Playmate of the Month and actress Dorothy Stratton and her estranged husband Paul Snider, as well as the murder of Emmy-winning producer Nick De Noia orchestrated by Banerjee.
But it also highlights what being part of the wild shows was really like from the point of view of the dancers and their throngs of female fans.
“I tell anyone who makes a documentary about the Chippendales that it’s hard to put in the feeling of what went on in the shows because it wasn’t only the women, everybody was part of the show. It’s hard to duplicate the feelings and emotions that were going on in the club,” former Chippendales dancer Michael Rapp said during the streamer’s virtual TCA presentation today.
“In some of the documentaries in the past, I feel that’s something they missed out on: the excitement and the thrill felt being part of the show,” he continued.
Added his fellow retired dancer Read Scot, “Most of the TV shows and movies just touch on the salacious sex, jumping around, but they don’t really focus on the professional hard work that goes into putting a show like that together. You’re taking nonprofessional performers and teaching them to dance within their capabilities and lots of hours of scripting. They miss a lot by going to the gratuitous screaming, hollering, ripping clothes off. Yeah, that was the interaction that built the energy of the show. But they really miss the hard work creating that finished product.”
While the docuseries is true-crime-focused, there are multiple themes layered into the stories, including how until the inception of Chippendales it was rarely shown that women could be just as wild as men.
“Chippendales was the place where women were allowed to be as loud and as noisy as they want to be to show their appreciation for guys who were showing appreciation for them by letting it all hang out,” said Candace Mayeron, associate producer of Chippendales from 1981-87. “They’d go with their girlfriends and it just added to the festive atmosphere.”
The first part of the docuseries reveals that it wasn’t only young women who attended these performances. In the crowd, you could find on any typical night women ranging in age from their older 50s to well into their 90s.
“That’s a very important point, the show became a place you could bring your grandmother. It was respectable,” added Mayeron, who said she has photos with both her mom and grandmother—big fans of Rapp— taken during a Mother’s Day celebration at the club.
With their performing years behind them, life today for both Rapp and Scot is much tamer.
“At 65, I’m pretty mild,” Scot said with a laugh. “Those were some pretty wild days which went along with the decade of the ’80s. It was a decade of excess, so our business fit right in.”
Rapp adds, “For me, it wasn’t my favorite part and that’s where Banerjee and I had a lot of discussions. As far as pay scale, I would rather perform and tip less and make more on a salary than go in for the tip and kiss. Then I graduated out of choice to be more the MC and not having to continue to base my salary on kissing women. It made my wife a lot happier, too.”
Discovery+’s Curse Of The Chippendales review: Titillating but drawn-out
The unfortunately sordid saga of the Chippendales is truly the stuff of movies. The very real tale, involving glamour, dancing, sex, heartbreak, possible assassinations, and actual murders, has now become a Hollywood magnet. In the last year alone, Kumail Nanjiani and Dev Patel were confirmed, respectively, to star in a Hulu limited series and a film version of the story. They will each play Chippendales founder Somen “Steve” Banerjee, an Indian immigrant who thrived in the untapped female libido market when the club opened in 1979. With this story about to take over pop culture discussions, Discovery+’s new four-part docuseries Curse Of The Chippendales arrives at just the right time. It offers an illuminating insider look into the stupefying drama behind Chippendales’ rise and fall. However, the almost hour-long runtime per episode drags out the scandalous story, making it almost repetitive.
The series kicks off at the Las Vegas FBI branch in July 1991 with an ominous warning. Retired FBI officer Steve Garriola recalls how a man walked in, claiming he was hired to kill two male dancers in London who were seen as Chippendales competition. For those unfamiliar with the story, director Jesse Vile instantly establishes the kind of twists to expect in Curse Of The Chippendales. The series then moves back almost two decades to 1975, when Banerjee was the owner of Destiny II, the only Los Angeles nightclub open until 4 a.m. at the time. The entrepreneur was in search of a new idea to build on its growing fame. It arrived in the form of Canadian businessman Paul Snider. The promoter and grifter partnered with Banerjee and his reluctant lawyer Bruce Nahin after suggesting they start a club exclusively for a female audience. The 1970s were almost over, but women owning their sexuality were still a novel concept and Chippendales was meant to cash in on it.
Reviews Reviews Curse Of The Chippendales B+ B+ Curse Of The Chippendales Directed by Jesse Vile Cast Documentary Premieres Friday, September 24 on Discovery+ Format Hour-long docuseries; complete docuseries watched for review
Curse Of The Chippendales slowly tracks the club’s raging success through the first-person accounts of those involved in it. Much Nahin’s surprise (or so he proclaims), the choreographed performances by buff men wearing nothing but spandex pants, suspenders, and bowties attracted crowds of women from across the nation. In its own way, Chippendales’ popularity was a watershed moment in normalizing stripping, and it flipped the script on who gets to do it. Vile uses an abundance of archival footage and recordings to display just how uninhibited the dancers and their audience were—almost nothing is left up to the imagination. The NSFW clips find emotional footing as a few featured male dancers talk about their time as Chippendales. Former dancer-turned-manager Roger Menache opens up about how it allowed him to become a sex symbol, while Michael Rapp goes in-depth about his 20-year career dancing and stripping for the company.
The interviews with Menache, Rapp, and other dancers like Rea d Scot and Dan Peterson imbue the Discovery+ series with gravitas. Curse Of The Chippendales isn’t as much about Banerjee as it is about them, and how joining the club changed the course of their lives forever. Rapp married and had a son with one of his regular customers, Nancy Dineen, who tearfully recollects being a groupie and the debilitating isolation she felt as her husband’s fame and subsequent cheating led to their separation. Their inclusion in the docuseries, especially Rapp’s refreshingly honest acceptance of his lifestyle, provides an affecting narrative to counterbalance the chaos that comes with portraying Banerjee’s unstoppable ambition, Snider fatally shooting his estranged wife and himself, and the introduction of show director and choreographer Nick de Noia. These events spiraled into Chippendales’ eventual downfall.
Banerjee brought de Noia onboard to help expand Chippendales to New York City and other parts of the country. Unlike Banerjee, who shied away from cameras, de Noia enjoyed public appearances and eventually became known as the face of Chippendales. Once again, Vile’s copious use of news footage, photos, old interviews really helps sell the intensity with which de Noia was garnering national attention, much to the chagrin of Banerjee. In 1987, a man walked into de Noia’s office and shot him to death. Candace Mayeron, former assistant producer of Chippendales, says she always believed Banerjee was responsible for the death of her friend. Here’s when the show begins to shed some light into the life of the club’s founder and owner. But it arrives in bits and pieces at the end of episode three, and doesn’t convey much pivotal information about him.
Then again, Banerjee wasn’t always forthcoming about his life prior to moving to the United States. Former creative director Eric Gilbert says here that in his eight years of working with him, he was hardly privy to any of Banerjee’s personal information. Gilbert does call him the “Steve Jobs of sexuality for women.” Banerjee was intensely smart; he entered an industry he knew had a major gap, considering strip-clubs were usually catered to men and not vice versa. He crafted the reputation of being soft-spoken and demure. Yet, as the final episode reveals, he was a cunning criminal mastermind. Banerjee was responsible for de Noia’s murder and for hiring frequent clubgoer Ray Colon to try and assassinate former dancers who moved away to rival companies like Adonis or started their own male-stripping joints. The show dwells more on his capture than it does on how the Mumbai-born immigrant landed in this precarious position in the first place.
Episode four swivels from the the glitzy visuals of the first three to focus more on the FBI working with an informant to finally arrest Banerjee for his crimes. The narrative shift is quite jarring and unfortunately slow-paced for a show about an eccentric subject like this one. It does do an excellent job of showing the lengths to which Banerjee was willing to go to be the top dog of this field. Despite the ending, Curse Of The Chippendales is a well-structured documentary series that is also a fascinating time capsule of the early ’80s disco era. Banerjee and his many crimes are almost glossed over, but it’s worth watching to better understand the lives of the Chippendale dancers, who don’t usually get as much focus and glory now as they once did.
Kumail Nanjiani To Star In Hulu’s Chippendales Show • Instinct Magazine
A Hulu series about Chippendales? And Kumail Nanjiani will star in it?
Kumail Nanjiani has signed on to star and executive produce a limited drama series about the origin of the iconic Chippendales strippers. The Silicon Valley and The Eternals star is working with Pam & Tommy creator Robert Siegel on the series titled Immigrant.
The eight-episode project is about the true story of Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the Indian-American businessman who created the Chippendales. Again, Nanjiani will star as the lead role, according to Variety.
Currently, all we know about the series is that it will focus on Banerjee and have a large focus on the creation of the stripper troupe. But, one has to be curious if the many controversies around the entrepreneur and company will also get some attention. Banerjee was reportedly involved with plots to kill Chippendales producers, dancers, choreographers, and more. He then pleaded guilty to arson, racketeering, and murder for hire.
Behind the camera, Dylan Sellers, Chris Parker, Emily V. Gordon will help produce the show. Then, Rajiv Joseph and Mehar Sethi will work as writers and producers. 20th Television will also serve as the studio for the series. Immigrant will then air on the Hulu streaming service in the US, while Endeavor Content will handle the international sales.
Keep in mind, this project is not to be confused with another Chippendales series that’s currently in the works.
Curse of the Chippendales was greenlit for Discovery+ on the same day that Immigrant was for Hulu. The Discovery+ series will be a four-part true-crime series that focuses more heavily on the troupe’s dark past, according to Deadline.
Per Discovery+’s description: “The Chippendales achieved a coveted and rare goal: becoming an iconic, household name around the world. Their trademark style of barely-there costumes briefly sported by perfectly-chiseled men would be forever recognized, often emulated, and famously parodied. Their brand became a multi-million-dollar global venture, successful beyond their wildest dreams. But of three unlikely dreamers who were there at the beginning, only one would make it out alive.”
Using photo and video archives, the mini-series will explore characters like original line-up dancers Michael Rapp and Roger Menache; Bruce Nahin, the club’s lawyer; and key investigators. While this show will air in the US on Discovery+, Endeavor Content will, once again, handle the international sales.
Source: Variety, Deadline,
Curse of the Chippendale on Prime Video UK
Curse of the Chippendale on Prime Video UK
Amazon Prime Video has announced that the Curse of the Chippendales will launch later this year on Prime Video in the UK.
The new four-part series from the multiple Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning team at Lightbox, tells a true crime story, rooted in a decade with its own quintessential style and all fuelled by one thing: greed.
The Chippendales achieved a coveted and rare goal: becoming an iconic, household name around the world. Their trademark style of barely-there costumes briefly sported by perfectly-chiseled men would be forever recognised, often emulated, and famously parodied. Their brand became a multi-million-dollar global venture, successful beyond their wildest dreams. But of three unlikely dreamers who were there at the beginning, only one would make it out alive.
With exclusive access to a cast of characters including Michael Rapp, original line-up dancers, Bruce Nahin and the club’s ever-busy lawyer and key investigators, Curse of the Chippendales tells the story of how a new kind of dance troupe took the LA nightclub scene by storm and ended up with international fame and untold wealth, along with bizarre murder plots and multiple deaths entwined in their legacy. Driven by extensive video and photo archive, including never-before-seen footage and a nostalgia-filled soundtrack, viewers will be directly transported back to the 1980s.
Curse of the Chippendales begins as a celebration of a cultural phenomenon but quickly reveals a jaw dropping true crime story, as high octane and over the top as the show itself.
From Dopesick to The Shrink Next Door: the seven best shows to stream this week
Pick of the week
Rosario Dawson in Dopesick. Photograph: Antony Platt/Hulu
“You don’t chase a market,” says a drug company executive, “you create it.” It’s the statement at the heart of this bleak, striking series telling the story of the American opioid addiction crisis from the perspectives of the predators who punted an addictive drug (OxyContin) to doctors and patients; the patients themselves; and the cops trying to get to the bottom of the scandal. Essentially, it’s the story of a transitional point in US capitalism, where the amoral marketeers of a dangerous product fed upon the decline of older kinds of industry such as mining – and the despair left behind by their passing. Michael Keaton stars as troubled doctor Samuel Finnix; Rosario Dawson is a driven DEA agent.
Disney+, from Friday 12 November
The Shrink Next Door
Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd in The Shrink Next Door. Photograph: Beth Dubber/Apple
Marty Markowitz (Will Ferrell) is a people-pleaser. So when he has a panic attack and his sister suggests seeing a psychiatrist, he agrees. It’s then that he meets Dr Isaac Herschkopf (Paul Rudd), who spots his passive, obliging streak and spies an opportunity. This black comedy based on a hit podcast tells the true story of how the manipulative shrink took ownership of his client’s life for three decades, eventually occupying his home. It’s nicely performed – Rudd in particular manifests Herschkopf’s slippery, jittery charm perfectly – and a darkly fascinating insight into doctor-patient power dynamics gone awry.
Apple TV+, from Friday 12 November
In My Skin
Di Botcher in In My Skin. Photograph: Huw John/BBC/Expectation
Here’s a second, concluding series for this touching drama starring the excellent Gabrielle Creevy as Bethan, a Welsh teen whose cockiness and immaturity at school belie the challenges of her home life. Bethan’s mum, Trina, has bipolar disorder, her father, Dilwyn, is abusive, and much of the time Bethan is the only grownup in the room. Now, Trina’s health is improving and Bethan is enjoying a more normal teenage life but difficult choices soon return. A big-hearted and compassionate tale whose first season was deservedly showered with Welsh Baftas.
BBC Three, from Sunday 7 November
To UK eyes (and ears), a nature series on Netflix is never going to enjoy quite the cachet of a David Attenborough extravaganza. This lavish Netflix affair (from the makers of the spectacular series Night on Earth) attempts to replicate the gravitas of Attenborough with celebrity charisma – famous voices include Bryan Cranston, Rashida Jones, Rebel Wilson and Pedro Pascal. Expect to get up close and extremely personal with, among other photogenic beasts, a mother lioness, a kangaroo joey and a young giant Pacific octopus.
Netflix, from Wednesday 10 November
Curse of the Chippendales
Michael Rapp in Curse of the Chippendales. Photograph: Lightbox
Due to assumptions made about gender and commodification, the all-male 80s erotic dancing troupe the Chippendales were presented as a more “innocent” proposition than an equivalent group of women might have been. Sure enough, it all seems rosy at first as this series tells the story of the group’s ascent, via lashings of luxuriant mullets and baby-oiled six-packs. But darkness lingered just below the surface; the era-specific, VHS-fuzzy nostalgia eventually gives way to a timelessly grim tale of dysfunction, disillusionment and murder.
Amazon Prime Video, from Friday 12 November
Jane Noury (right) in Always Jane. Photograph: © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC/Amazon Prime Video
Trans life is too often portrayed in terms of struggle and strife. So while this new four-part docuseries, offering an intimate portrait of transgender teen Jane Noury as she navigates various challenging personal issues, verges on gushing in places, that’s fair enough under the circumstances. Happily, Jane is facing life with the support of what appears to be an incredibly loving and supportive family – the series balances issues unique to Jane with a cheerful and pretty universal depiction of functional everyday family life.
Amazon Prime Video, from Friday 12 November
90 Days: Single Files
Syngin in 90 Days: Single Files. Photograph: The Single Life/discovery+
You might already recognise a few of these faces from the endless minor variations on the 90 Day Fiancé formula in which couples have three months to decide whether or not to take the plunge and get married. This latest spin-off series sees several of them renewing their frenzied and hysterical attempts to find love via a simulation of dating apps (literal gun shots go off during one dinner date). It’s blatantly and shamelessly exploitative of their various foibles but likely to be guiltily addictive fun if wallowing in trash is your kind of thing.
Discovery+ , from Friday 12 November