“Welcome to Your Fantasy” weaves a story of sex, drugs and murder through the rise of porn in America. Steve Banerjee dreamt of achieving the success of those he idolized: Walt Disney and Hugh Hefner. The Indian immigrant landed in Los Angeles with the dream of building a successful backgammon club like Hefner. He bought an crumbling old bar but had trouble getting it off the ground for years – until 1979. That’s when he meant Paul Snyder, an eccentric Canadian pimp. He convinces Banerjee that the bar should host a male strip show, but not a gay revue. He told them that in this new world of porn being hand-delivered to the masses, to create a strip show for women.
Thus, Chippendales was born. A male dance troupe that became known for washboard abs and rippling pectorals, all exposed by their iconic costumes of just a bow tie, collar, and shirt cuffs. It was an instant success. Chippendales went on to open clubs in New York City, Dallas, and Denver, with three touring troupes around the United States and Europe. Banerjee and his new director and producer, Nick de Noia, were featured on every talk show, gained national fame, and just raked in the dough.
Historian of American politics and culture, and host of “Welcome to Your Fantasy,” Natalia Petrzela was fascinated by this story. At the intersection of cultural phenomenons, fitness junkies, and crime lies Chippendales. Driven by money, cocaine, and sex, Banerjee became paranoid and anxious his success would be usurped by competition – and furious that de Noia had convinced him to sign away rights to Chippendales’ touring revue.
In “Welcome to Your Fantasy”, Petrzela interviews colleagues, coworkers, and friends of Chippendales. She finds out how it came to be, how it was run, and how in the world it made $80,000 a week. She also wants to know what happened behind the scenes that ended up with de Noia being shot in the face in 1987.
Between lawsuits, broken contracts written on napkins, mysterious fires burning down neighboring clubs and a lengthy manhunt, a dark tale emerges. What exactly happened in the back offices of Chippendales? Despite the seedy underbelly of this franchise, how has it continued to thrive in spite of that? Or is it because of Chippendales’ dark past? Listen to “Welcome to Your Fantasy” to find out the full story.