With the release of Hulu’s Welcome to Chippendales, many true crime aficionados are asking: Where is Steve Banerjee now?
The Hulu mini-series Welcome to Chippendales depicts the life of Somer (better known as Steve) Banerjee and his rise to becoming the founding mogul of Chippendales—an enthralling and booming male exotic dancer business in the 80s focusing on female pleasure. Banerjee (played by Kumail Nunjani) enjoyed his life running the most successful male stripping empire, but things took a turn when his business partner Nick De Noia (played by Murray Bartlett) was receiving more glory after he sought after the touring rights. Banerjee hired a hit on de Noia and was eventually caught for conspiring his murder. But, what exactly happened after his arrest? Here’s what happened to Steve Banerjee and where he is now.
Where is Steve Banerjee now?
So, where is Steve Banerjee now? After De Noia was found in his Times Square office fatally shot in the face, many didn’t expect Banerjee to be a suspect. However, after buying the rights back from De Noia’s family, all signs pointed to him. He was arrested in September 1993 and pleaded guilty to racketeering, which included arranging De Noia’s murder. However, on October 23, 1994, a day before Banerjee was sentenced, he died by suicide in his cell.
Banerjee carried out the murder plan in 1987 by hiring Ray Colon, a former Palm Springs police officer and lounge room entertainer, and his accomplice Gilbert Rivera Lopez, who agreed to kill De Noia for $25,000. Banerjee and De Noia became business partners after Banerjee saw success in opening the Los Angeles location, and hired the Emmy award-winning choreographer to help open the New York location. After multiple locations took off, Banerjee and De Noia split the business in half—with Banerjee overseeing the permanent locations and De Noia taking over the touring aspect of the company. The touring company proved to be very successful, making Banerjee jealous and he wanted to take his business partner out.
After De Noia’s death, Banerjee still had blood out for his competitors. He also allegedly hired Colon to bring out the murders of former Chippendale dancers, Read Scot and Steve White, who were making their own company. They ultimately became the founders of the London club, Adonis, and were in direct competition with Banerjee’s brand. In A&E’s documentary Secrets of Chippendales, Colon also confessed to Banarjee asking him to burn down Oskos, a Los Angeles club owned by his friends. In the footage, obtained by The Sun, he said: “He asked me if I could burn it down. I could understand why he wanted it [burned], because it was packed, but it was humongous – three times as big Chippendales. So he threw $7000 down… I just took it.”
Things became a standstill when Colon hired a hitman with the alias “Strawberry” and flew all the way to London to carry on with the Adonis murders, but he ended up with cold feet before he could inject Scot and White with cyanide. Strawberry turned himself into the FBI, and he brought down Colon in the process. After being in jail for seven months, Colon helped the FBI by getting confessions from Banerjee in Switzerland.
Banerjee was arrested and indicted for conspiracy to violate the federal murder-for-hire statute, and for five counts of causing others to travel in foreign commerce and to use facilities in foreign commerce to further the murder scheme, per UPI. At first, Banerjee pleaded innocent to the charges according to AP, and the conviction on all charges would have resulted in life in prison and a $1.75 million fine. He eventually pleaded guilty to attempted arson, racketeering and murder for hire. He entered a plea deal where he would get his sentence reduced to 26 years, but would lose his Chippendales assets.
At the time, a federal prosecutor said to a federal magistrate-judge that Banerjee had told an informant that he planned “to leave the country or kill himself” if apprehended. Reonard McFadden, an executive to the warden at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center said in a statement at the time that Banerjee was depressed however he did not seem like he wanted to kill himself. “Banerjee, like every other inmate, had been interviewed by a staff psychologist. There was no indication he was suicidal.”
The man who actually carried out the murder, Lopez was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. While Colon had a reduced sentence since he cooperated with the FBI to charge Banerjee. He plead guilty to conspiracy and murder for hire and was released two years after Banerjee’s death in 1996.
As an Indian immigrant, who previously was a gas station attendant, Banerjee still lived a normal family life. He married his wife Irene in the 1980s, who actress Annaleigh Ashford said was hard to emulate since there is little about her public life. “I had no research to go from because there’s nothing about this woman,” she said. “So the only thing I had to work off were the given circumstances of the situation, the real-life events. It was real important to me to create a person who was really human and complicated and still lived in the world of the late 70s and 80s.” Irene inherited the Chippendales business along with all his assets after his death.
The couple had two children, a daughter and a son, Christian, who eventually decided to follow up his father’s legacy by becoming a stripper. In an interview with the New York Post, he said of his father and what he would have thought of his endeavors today with his own company Strippendales, “People have a lot of opinions and that’s fine. He was a good guy … I’ve always had this connection with my dad, even though he wasn’t living, through Chippendales. I think he’d want to push me in this direction. He’d want to continue his legacy through his son.”
Welcome to Chippendales is available to watch on Hulu. Here’s how to watch it for free.
Basis for the Hulu series, Welcome to Chippendales, starring Kumail Nanjiani, Murray Bartlett, Annaleigh Ashford, Dan Stevens, and Juliette Lewis, Deadly Dance tells the fascinating story of Steve Banerjee, founder and owner of the smash LA nightclub, Chippendales. In the post-pill, pre-AIDS, sex-filled LA club scene of the 1980s, celebrities, desperate housewives and wild bachelorettes converged on one place: Chippendales—and behind it all was arson, the Mob and murder.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.