Hulu’s Welcome to Chippendales is without a doubt one of the biggest surprises that TV has to offer this year. Following Chippendales founder Steve Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani), the show starts out as an exciting underdog tale about an Indian emigrant who goes on to create one of the world’s most popular establishments. But then, as Chippendales becomes more and more of a success, the show metamorphoses into a stranger-than-fiction story of arson, racketeering, and murder – to just scratch the surface.
Is this story actually stranger than fiction? Below, we investigate the contents of Chippendales, episode by episode, breaking down what actually happened, and what was fabricated — or completely made-up — for the series. We’ll update this post each week as each new episode debuts.
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers up to Welcome to Chippendales Episode 8, “Paper is Paper.”]
Episode 1: “An Elegant, Exclusive Atmosphere”
Was “Destiny II” a Real Place?
Yes. It is true that Chippendales-founder Steve Banerjee used the money he saved up from working at a Mobil station to open a club of his own called Destiny II. As seen in Welcome to Chippendales, he originally turned the space into a backgammon club, which failed to gain traction.
While it is true that Steve later turned Destiny II into Chippendales, it is not entirely true that he thought of the idea for the all-male strip tease all on his own. The idea actually came partly under the advisement of club promoter Paul Snider, who, in Chippendales, is portrayed by Dan Stevens as initially resistant to the idea because he doesn’t think that women want to see men strip.
Also left out of Chippendales is the fact that there were other minds behind the club in addition to Banerjee, Snider, and Snider’s girlfriend, Playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten (played in the series by Nicola Peltz Beckham). Banerjee actually had a business partner, Bruce Nahin, with whom he bought Destiny II. Nahin was a big part of the inception of Chippendales, and even advised male dancers to pour the customer’s drinks and light their cigarettes.
Who Created the Iconic Chippendales Look?
In Welcome to Chippendales, Playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten comes up with the iconic look for the Chippendales dancers: cuffs and collars. According to the four-part A&E documentary Secrets of the Chippendales Murders, her contribution wasn’t falsified for the Hulu show.
Stratten’s time at Playboy inspired her to suggest the implementation of the accessories, and Playboy tycoon Hugh Hefner approved the club’s usage of his trademark. Chippendales’ former creative director Eric Gilbert explained that “Hefner gave the greatest gift to Steve Banerjee by allowing him to take that cuffs and collar trademark and make it into a Chippendales look.”