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tv   2020  ABC  October 8, 2021 9:01pm-11:00pm PDT

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♪ everybody knows about chippendales as the guys in cuffs and collars, but very few people know about the kind of dark criminal history that created that brand. >> we're your weather girls. >> uh-huh. >> and have we got news for you! >> murder for hire and greed and intrigue. >> it's murder, drugs, wine, woman, and song. >> there was definitely a lot of sex going on. [ laughs ] ♪ it's raining men ♪ ♪ hallelujah it's raining men ♪ >> they became stars instead of strippers. >> here are the chippendales. >> we were the beatles without the talent. >> you would have never thought chippendales would be surrounded
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with murder. >> the victim was shot to death in his office. >> the fbi tonight is investigating an international murder plot that targets three former chippendale dancers. >> we have intercepted a call. there's been a contract put on your life. somebody wants to kill you. >> there's a hit list on chippendales who leave for other groups. >> one of the most bizarre murder for hire cases in the history of the fbi. >> i always say behind every billionaire is a dead body or two. ♪ ooh, it's raining men, yeah ♪ welcome to chippendales! >> won't you please welcome from los angeles, the world famous men of chippendales! >> i think people are still fascinated with chippendales
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today because it's just this perfect relic of the big wild, and crazy '80s. >> it was booze, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. >> back in the 1980s, when chippendales blew up, it was a groundbreaking genre, giving women a taste of something that had never existed for them before. >> muscular men disrobing for an audience of women. and kind of flipping the script in terms of what we usually think of as a strip club situation. ♪ we're going to have a good time ♪ >> take it off, all of it! >> are you married? does your husband know where you are? >> yeah yee-haw! >> part of the whole point of chippendales was that nobody ever stripped naked. the naughty bits were always covered. >> a lot was going on in the '80s that made the moment just right for chippendales. feminism was on the upswing. >> women were making their own
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money and the idea that women could go out and spend that hard-earned money, that was becoming more accepted. ♪ why don't you take it off ♪ ♪ because i have been thinking about how good i'm going to look on you ♪ >> it was a cathartic experience for women to be able to do this and have attractive men pay attention to them. it was a role reversal. >> too much? i told you it's going to be a wild night. >> it was like an explosion of orgasms, to hear these women screaming when these chippendale's men would enter the stage. >> i would venture to say it's over 100,000 women have watched me take my clothes off in some form or fashion. i actually wait for applause when i take off my clothes in the shower now. it doesn't come, but i wait for it. >> girls from all walks of lives came. >> the women made it.
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>> you'd have to hold women back. women would take their tops off. >> my first night onstage, some woman took off all of her clothes and ran as fast as she could toward me. there was nothing in the handbook of what do you do when a completely naked woman runs at you full speed in the middle of your act. >> you always got grabbed, you got mauled, you got pinched, you got pulled. >> you'd have claw marks down the back. >> they'd be waving the bills and going crazy. >> yeah! >> and then you grab them by the head and give her a nice kiss, and then she'll give you a dollar. >> let's give him a big round of applause. >> and then the show would be over, and they're back to granny and grandma, mother. they were just sweet as could be. it was just for those two hours they could cut loose. >> every woman should do this at least one time to say i did it and i loved it! >> so, to really understand the story of chippendales, you've got to start with steve banerjee, the man who
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founded it. >> a lot of people look at your business and say it's a fad, it's a passing fancy. >> lust has never been a passing fancy. i mean, it's not a fad. s the pretty much like a necessity. >> in many ways, chippendales is an american dream story. it's the story of a south asian immigrant who came to the united states with hollywood dreams and who made them come true. steve banerjee grew up in western india. >> steve left india in the early 1960s and then arrived in los angeles. ♪ ♪ >> he had to teach himself english and really was a rags-to-riches story. >> i wanted to start a printing business, but i didn't have enough money to start it. >> steve's father owned a printing company back in india, but steve realized if he wanted his own business, he was going to have to start from the
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bottom. >> steve banerjee's first job was as a janitor. >> but steve was always looking for that next big thing. so he borrows some money from a friend to open his first business. >> he ended up opening a couple gas station franchises. >> i didn't know nothing about cars, and i never had my hands dirty before. >> but he wants to be the guy in those fancy cars. he wants to be driving to his house in the hollywood hills. >> his two role models are hugh hefner and walt disney. and he has this idea that he wants to create a kind of marquee american brand. >> he sets his sights on the night lights and the bright lights in the big city. >> he buys this dumpy nightclub which he goes on to call destiny ii, suggesting there might be a destiny i or a destiny iii, so i think he probably had dreams for worldwide expansion. >> america's latest craze is
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disco dancing. disco mania is a $4 billion business. >> when steve opens destiny ii, discotheques were a huge part of l.a. nightlife. >> people are starting to go out, dress up a little better, have a good time. there's all this music like kc and the sunshine band. ♪ that's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh i like it, uh-huh, uh-huh ♪ >> kool and the gang tracks like "ladies night." ♪ ladies night, oh what a night ♪ >> when steve opens destiny ii, it is definitely not an overnight success. it is hard to get people in the door. he's competing with a lot of other nightclubs in l.a. steve banerjee would try anything. he threw so many things against the wall to see what would stick. >> he had backgammon night, disco dancing lessons.
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>> make sure you put a lot of twists in that little shuffle step, everyone. >> we did things like magic shows and dinner theater. you know, whatever it took. we did mud wrestling. the floor was filthy. it was horrible. it was an idiot idea. >> destiny ii is not catching on, and steve and his business partners decide, okay, we are going to rebrand the club. they land on the name chippendales. >> come on, let's get going! >> which has nothing to do with chip and dale, the disney characters. it has to do with thomas chippendale, the 18th century furniture designer. they had all of this knockoff chippendale furniture in the club. >> it has a nice catchy name to it, and we wanted to get a classy name. chippendales, just north of venice boulevard on overland avenue in west l.a. >> they are still having trouble getting people in the door, and then, one day, in walks this man named paul snider.
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>> paul snider was a ne'er-do-well entrepreneur from canada who came to los angeles. >> he was trying to make it as a club promoter. he was a hustler. >> paul just seemed like he was always trying to get away with something. you walk away from paul and feel like you need to take a shower. >> paul snider had apparently seen a gay male review where men were stripping for other men and suggested that steve try out something like that for women. >> and paul said there was one condition, he had to be the mc. >> and banerjee thought, wow, i could do male strippers. if it's bringing women in, it doesn't matter to me. >> and i said, "what?" what a stupid, stupid idea. i said, this thing won't last a night. >> paul and steve would go to the gyms, to the beaches, and see guys who they thought looked
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the part, and asked them, hey, want to take your clothes off tonight at a club for women? ♪ ♪ >> this is chippendales, a nightclub exclusively for women. the only men allowed in the club are the waiters, bartenders and the male dancers. >> the boys were wearing jockstraps, and the women were left aghast at men dancing around, bouncing around. >> the first night that the show opened, steve told a local paper that 600 women showed up. [ cheers and applause ] >> are you excited about the idea of men taking their clothes off? >> excited! oh! and hot! i think it's great. i might just kick my husband out. >> so, banerjee saw the receipts when he tried it the first time, and it just blew out the door. >> what are you thinking right
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now? >> what am i thinking? i'd like to see another who. >> if you think about that first night, when really banerjee was just trying out another new idea, it is mind-blowing to think that this would transform ideas about women and man and sexuality, become an international phenomenon. ♪ tonight's the night ♪ >> steve banerjee seems poised for success. >> it really was a hot night club. the playboy bunnies were there. >> but there's trouble on the horizon. a murder that will stun chippendales. [sfx: radio being tuned] welcome to allstate. ♪ [band plays] ♪ a place where everyone lives life well-protected. ♪ and even when things go a bit wrong, we've got your back. here, things work the way you wish they would.
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♪ get down and dirty, yeah ♪ ♪ we're going down tonight ♪ it's 1979, and one of steve banerjee's ideas for his club is finally sticking. it's a male strip revue. >> for years there have been playboy bunnies to delight men, but now chippendales is gaining traction, and, boy, does it take off. ♪ get down and dirty ♪
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>> how does it feel to be a sex object? >> i love it. it feels good. ♪ get down and dirty ♪ >> paul snider, who is in on this with banerjee and is a fixture in the club scene, happens to be dating a playboy playmate dorothy stratten, and that brings chippendales to the attention of hugh hefner. >> chippendale's became a hangout for the in crowd at hugh hefner's mansion. if you drew a straight line from hefner's mansion it would lead directly to chippendale's. >> and the story is that it's because of dorothy and her connections to hefner that that's why the chippendales men wear the cuffs and collars, which of course are modeled after playboy bunny costumes. >> we have to wear the collar and bowtie. and the girls seem to like it a lot.
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>> you see, banerjee and the chippendales benefitted from snider's connections, and it helped them make their mark on the scene. >> but when it came to being a part of the show, paul snider just wasn't that good. >> paul was a horrible emcee. he didn't have any interaction with the audience, jokes or whatever. the whole show stunk. >> steve banerjee abruptly cans paul. >> steve banerjee edged the guy who brought the idea to him out of the picture and replaced him with somebody else. beginning a pattern of behavior that steve banerjee's business would become well known for. >> i believe that being dismissed from chippendales really made him feel very bitter. this i think was probably felt especially painfully because dorothy's career was going so well. >> in august of 1980, dorothy had just been named playmate of the year. her star is rising. >> then he lost dorothy's heart to the film director peter bogdanovich. that drove him into a spiral of rage and jealousy so intense that he murdered
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dorothy stratten in 1980 and then turned the gun on himself. >> snider apparently shot stratten in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun. he then apparently turned the gun on himself. >> i always thought it was interesting that the person who told steve banerjee, you should have male strippers at your club, is the same person who ends up committing this terrible crime. >> while snider was no longer with chippendales, it was one of the first dark instances to be associated with the brand. in retrospect, there was also more darkness brewing at this time, which is going to rear its ugly head much later. >> while steve's club is taking off, he's not relishing the spotlight. >> steve banerjee was known to be a little bit socially awkward. >> he was always in the shadows. he would never be comfortable front and center. >> steve is incredibly private. he's dating a woman he's going to eventually marry, but she's rarely seen at the club.
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>> he never talked about his personal family. >> he lived business 24/7. he never had an mba, but he knew accounting and he knew marketing, like, inside-out. and he was constantly thinking of ways to make chippendale's better success, bigger success. >> steve was driven by money. it was all about money. >> it was money and to be the best. >> what does steve banerjee do with all his money, all this newfound wealth? >> i wonder half of the time when i write my checks what happens to the money i made the last month. it just goes back into the business. >> as you might imagine, by no means was chippendales a buttoned-up, corporate atmosphere. >> steve banerjee was very competitive. he wanted to make the most money out of any nightclub in la. a lot of the choices he would end up making came out of that sense of competition. >> the fire code capacity was 299. >> but he would get 600 girls in there at a time nightly. >> more women in the club meant more money for steve banerjee. >> want a dollar? take it off! >> rules don't apply to steve.
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>> he wouldn't care about laws. >> the lapd raided the place twice. >> steve banerjee realized that every time he got in the news for overcrowding, the club was even more packed the next night. and so, rumor has it, he placed some of those complaints about overcrowding on himself with the cops. >> as the saying goes, no publicity is bad publicity. no fire-code violations can keep chippendales down. >> i like to tell them how fantastic it is. >> in 1981, steve has his eye on expanding chippendales beyond the l.a. club scene. >> there enters on the scene a man who really changes the direction of chippendales. his name is nick de noia. >> the meeting of steve banerjee and nick de noia was the beginning of so much that nobody saw coming. it was an incredibly fateful meeting.
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>> nick comes out of the theater world of new york, and he is an emmy award-winning children's television producer. >> his claim to fame is that he makes this kids tv series called "unicorn tales." >> once upon a time, in the here and the now, there came to unicorn city a boy named andy. >> all very questionable resume lines to become a male strip impresario. >> nick came in and i think put stars in steve banerjee's eyes, telling him he would create a show that would create buzz, it would bring in cash. and that nick could create something that would get chippendales to broadway. >> i think nick saw, what if we had lights? what if we had real choreography? what if we had costumes? this could be huge. >> it was not going to be just about men stripping.
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he knew that women needed romance. he knew that women needed story. >> as chippendales was gaining in popularity, he was the subject of a number of news pieces. telling "evening magazine" his plans to make the show appealing to women. >> when we go to see a strip show, as soon as a woman takes off her bra, we're dirty minded little boys. with women, it's not that. they'll get turned on by a man, but they have to know that personality. >> nick's show revolved around characters for each of the men. >> the barbarian. >> a new man in a new world. >> zorro. >> his symbol, a single red rose. >> the perfect man. ♪ the perfect man ♪ >> he trained them. they had rehearsals. >> nobody scared me like he scared me. he was so unaccepting of anything less than perfection. >> i'm easy. as i say to them, gentlemen, if you give me what i want, i'm a sweetheart.
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>> he really pushed you and pushed you. that's how chippendales became chippendales. >> we were expected to eat a certain way, train, stay in shape. >> if you showed up not looking right or your spandex pants were a little muffin top going on, you'd hear from nick. >> they became stars instead of strippers. >> ah, yes, just like broadway, isn't it? >> within the next two years, nick's vision takes the show to a whole new level, bringing him even more attention in the press. >> nick de noia is producer and manager of the chippendales men. under his direction what should have been a passing fancy is now a multi-million dollar industry. >> so nick and steve proved to be very effective partners in building this business, but almost from the start they had this brewing rivalry between them. >> they were the wrong two people to work together. >> that relationship was toxic.
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>> but there's some dark underpinnings here, and added into this mix is nick de noia. much of the reason of chippendale's success is due to nick, and the tension is starting to simmer. nick is better looking, he's more charismatic, and steve is known to be socially awkward and it's starting to come to a head. and on top of that, nick is getting ready to expand to new york with a club that's going to be bigger and better than the l.a. club. >> the new york audience is theater-aware, and they understand what it is we're doing theatrically. >> as nick was getting ready to open the new york club, it started to fall apart a little bit with steve. steve wanted to give input into how the show should be performed. this was like telling a mother how to birth her baby. >> they saw things differently. nick came from what's best for the production. steve came from, what pretty boy is gonna sell more? i don't care if he can't dance or walk and chew gum. so you had this kind of fighting
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all the time. and it would get caustic, it would get vulgar. >> chippendales new york opens to incredible fanfare. >> we love it. it's great. we're having a great time. >> the men are allowed to go wherever they want. why can't ladies? >> what we have created here is an equal opportunity fantasy factory. >> compared to chippendales in l.a., it was huge. it looked like a basketball arena with seats on both sides. >> and on the east coast, the celebrity factor kicks in. >> andy warhol came in, john travolta. >> brooke shields celebrated her birthday at our club. >> the chippendales become press darlings. we're talking about constant bookings on daytime talk shows. >> from new york city, here are the chippendales. >> it was pretty much every talk show. i mean, regis and kathie lee. >> hunks and more hunks.
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>> sally jessy raphael. donahue. there was so much national attention. >> you liked it? your grandchildren are watching. >> this stuff was made to order for those shows. >> chippendales became a household name. >> we were the beatles without the talent. >> women who might never have heard of chippendales would flip on their tv, and they might see chippendales men dancing and stripping before a national audience. >> yes, caller, you're on the air. >> yes, i would like to know what method you use to get such hairless chests? >> yeah. yeah, not too many hair on those chests. >> don't see a lot of grass on the playground, right? >> ohh. >> there was definitely a lot of sex going on. [ laughter ] >> if you couldn't get action at chippendales, there was something wrong with you. >> that was like the icing on the cake. i'm making a ton of money,
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i'm working two hours a night. this is the life. >> as the dancers become well known in their own right, so does nick de noia. >> meet the brains behind the brawn, nick de noia. >> i was at one of those sleazy little clubs on overland avenue, and i said, well, there's a big audience out there. let's figure out what the women want. >> and he would often be credited as the founder of chippendales, which enrages steve. >> i do remember steve saying many times, who does this guy think he is? i made him. he's lucky to work for me. >> steve banerjee was virtually invisible. >> steve, as he saw nick take his brand to greater and greater heights and to greater popularity, he became more resentful of nick and tried to kind of tighten the reins on him. >> banerjee is really jealous and angry with de noia, and they go through this restructuring. ultimately, it's going to go bad. >> steve has a reputation for being super cheap at chippendales, always pinching
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pennies beyond what's reasonable. >> steve banerjee was tight, tight, tight and tight. >> a miser to put it officially. any opportunity he could find not to pay somebody or tear up that check, he loved finding it. >> if you asked for $20 and he thought you were worth $10, he'll give you $10. >> why not screw them if you think you can get away with it? was steve's philosophy. >> there's this fateful moment in chippendales history, which is known as the napkin deal. >> in business mythology, you hear someone was signed because of a napkin deal. someone was discovered, and it was the start of their big career. but for the most part, legitimate business deals don't take place on napkins. and this napkin deal is a classic example of why it's just not a good idea. >> steve and i, we were out to
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dinner, and nick came. >> nick and steve were really at each other's throats, and so they're trying to work out a deal for the future of the business. >> de noia wants the success he's brought to the business to be acknowledged financially. >> and nick de noia said, look, if you're not going to give me more money, let me at least take the show on the road. i can make some money that way. >> at this point, there was no tour. nick knew that this was something he wanted to do, but it didn't exist yet. >> de noia proposes that he'll have complete creative control over the touring and he'll get 50% of the profits. >> nick basically wrote he had the rights to take the show on the road in perpetuity. and he signed it. >> banerjee didn't think the tour was worth anything, and he quickly signed that off. >> part of the key to this napkin deal is that it included the phrase in perpetuity. >> after everything was done,
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nick had left, and steve asked. he said, what's perpetuity? and i said, it's forever and ever. >> de noia gains rights to the touring show, which banerjee has no idea is going to be worth something. >> that deal would definitely come to haunt steve. >> it's pretty amazing to think that this agreement scribbled off on a napkin changed the course of chippendales history and ruined lives. >> that is where the chippendale world fell apart. >> nick is laughing all the way to the bank. >> i'm sure, steve thought, that's my money. he's taking my money. >> this is kind of thing that makes steve banerjee seethe. it festers inside of him. [knocking on door] ♪ ♪ so many bottles of champagne ♪ ♪ ♪ i'm in a room with the famous faces ♪ “ready and action!” ♪ oh, i feel like scorsese ♪ ♪
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♪ yeah, this sure is like a movie ♪ ♪ (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah) ♪ ♪ whoa, we're 'bout to make a movie, ♪ ♪ woo ♪ ♪ ♪ roll out the red carpet for me ♪ “ladies and gentlemen, that's a wrap!"
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thanks to the deal signed on a napkin, nick de noia has the right to take chippendales on tour, and it's about to be a wild success. >> ready to rock and roll. >> you were on two shows a night every night.
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you might have a day off, maybe one day off. >> oh, god, were they successful. oh, my god. they were standing room only. no matter where you went on tour, especially out in the midwest. we used to make such a killing during hunting season because all the women would come to the shows while the guys are out hunting. they're out getting deer, and they're getting us. ♪ it's raining men ♪ >> de noia has built a very successful touring business. he's printing money and bringing in hundreds of women to these venues. ♪ let me get myself get absolutely soaking wet ♪ >> i'm sure that really ticked off steve banerjee. i'm sure steve thought, that's my money. he's taking my money. >> as nick is laughing all the way to the bank, this only fuels the fires of steve banerjee's rage.
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♪ ♪ >> steve banerjee feels as though he's been duped out of profits by nick de noia, thanks to that ill-fated napkin deal, but there's one thing he has in his domain, the chippendales calendars. he's got complete control of those. >> they are one of the most profitable revenues for chippendales. >> he was selling calendars like rock stars sell albums. he was going platinum with calendars. >> for years calendars for men existed featuring scantily clad women, but now chippendales is flipping the script once again, pioneering a whole new type of calendar. >> here it is, hot off the press, the 1985 chippendales calendar. >> mr. january. >> all the ladies here today are going get the chippendale calendar. >> the calendars became a big deal. even if you didn't feel like you
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had the wherewithal to make it to a show, you could get some of the same fun out of buying a calendar or giving a calendar to somebody. >> the chippendale calendar covers were just kind of incredible. they're, like, greece greased up, super tank super ripped. >> i was january. it really put you on the map if you were in a calendar. >> we were in mexico. it was sort of the sahara desert look. >> i was born in october, so i was october. i was lucky enough to have that month. >> banerjee loved the calendar business because it was fast money. >> remember, his own father had run his own printing company in india. >> he was always trying to emulate his father. >> he wanted his calendar to be beautiful. i think that for him it was a reflection of where he came from and who he was.
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>> he paid the men almost nothing. he basically had a major cash cow in these calendars.steve baj is working on the 1987 chippendales calendar. >> something really bad happens. it really is a huge and terrible turning point for steve banerjee. >> steve has a deadline to get the layout of the calendars done. >> they show up to the agency who is designing the whole layout, and they're asking for the proof, which is what it's gonna look like once we print it. and there's only one employee left at the place, and the one employee is like, "sorry, it's not ready." >> and banerjee's like, look, look, look, just make sure it gets out the door. >> a few days later, that test version of the calendar shows up to the office. steve is supposed to make sure that everything in the calendar is accurate. he signs off on it, and then it goes to the printers.
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>> and so they print 800,000 copies of this calendar, and a short while later, the calendars show up. >> i'm in his office with him, and this kid from the warehouse comes running in with boxes of calendars. he says, excuse me. he says, i see something here in this calendar. and the kid shows him the month of february. oh, you, there shouldn't be 31 days in february, steve. and he's like what? and his eyes, they just jumped like out of a cartoon, they just jumped out of his socket. sure enough, every box they opened, every calendar had 31 days in february, and steve was like, holy [ bleep ] ♪ ♪ >> when these were delivered, they were useless.
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31 days in february? i don't think so. may has 31 days, not 30. >> we thought it was hysterical, actually. that's a big mistake. >> he tried everything to figure his way out of this. i mean, he tried thinking of maybe putting stickers on the -- on the dates. he ended up actually just selling the calendars on tours to women who didn't care, but about the days, just wanted the pictures of these men. when you're a son of a printer and you printed bad calendars, it's the worst mistake you can make and it's humiliating. >> it's a very expensive mistake. banerjee is now on the hook for reprinting all of these calendars, and it's going to set him back $700,000. >> this is the kind of thing that makes steve banerjee seethe. it festers inside of him. for someone who is a notorious miser, he's out a lot of money. and who does he channel that anger to but nick de noia, the guy he thinks is ripping him
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off, thanks to that napkin deal. >> and even though nick had nothing to do with the calendar mishap, steve was so hurt and angry from that experience, and channeled all his anger towards nick. >> i thought they were going to come to blows. i thought they were going to hit each other. >> what would come next would be far, far worse than a fistfight. >> a man here's been shot in the head in my office. when you watc, they don't rush through this stage. few of us will ever dive so deep into our cars, but those who do venture down into the nuts and bolts... when you wake up and face a challenge, you have to give all of yourself when you do something, and that's when you do your best. when was the last time you took a second to look up at the blue sky and the trees? ♪ for the best audio entertainment and storytelling. audible. maybe we mcgriddles lovers have done a bad job
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steve is still reeling from that costly calendar mistake and tortured by the success of nick's tour, so he decides to start his own. >> steve was sending his dancers out on the road, and he was not supposed to do that by the terms
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of the napkin deal. nick is enraged and that only turns up the tension between them. >> i heard him talking on the phone and saying banerjee. screw him. that money's mine. when you start hearing stuff like that about money, you know things are going south. >> finally nick goes to court and he gets a order shutting down banerjee's tour. >> i think banerjee was feeling like, i'm suffocating now. and he's still got this guy out here milking my dream. >> now nick reached a breaking point. he decides he's going to start his own male exotic dance group, completely separate from chippendales. but remember, nick still owns the rights to chippendales tour, so even as he starts competing with chippendales he'll still
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rake in the money from chippendales and this is the ultimate blow to steve. >> nick had his own idea for a calendar. it was supposed to have an overlay. you lift it up and he only has on a g-string. >> nick is at this point trying to do his own thing and cast this show out of this office in times square. ♪ feeling like myself again ♪ >> times square in the 1980s isn't what it is today. ♪ summertime is here and it's a whole vibe ♪ ♪ everybody get outside ♪ >> it was full of peep shows.
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there was pretty high crime in that area. >> he had an office. he shares it with two talent agents that he knows. one is will mott, the other is robin voris. >> i absolutely had a crush on nick. he was incredibly charming. i knew about the conflict between himself and steve. i could hear what was going on in his office. i could feel a conflict coming to a head. >> on april 7, 1987, steve banerjee is in l.a., and nick is in new york city working in his office. >> i came in at around 9:00 in the morning and will was already there. nick was there. we had an appointment for a client to take a meeting. and initially, will was supposed to go. and then he wasn't feeling well, so i offered to go. my client and i went to the
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meeting. >> while robin is out, this man comes up to the 15th floor where their office is and walks in. >> and looks at will and says, are you nick de noia? and will says, "no, no, i'm not, but he's right back there." the guy doesn't go to nick's office but turns around and goes into the hallway. >> and then, mayhem. >> will hears a gunshot. and he knows something terrible has happened. will comes into nick's office and he sees him there, slumped back in his chair. >> a man has been shot in the head in my office. >> okay, is he conscious? >> no. >> i walked back up to the building. there was police tape everywhere and there were a lot of cops.
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i called the office, and will answered the phone and he said, they shot nick. and i said, who shot nick? >> new york city police are trying to determine the motive in the murder of an award-winning television producer and choreographer. investigators say there was no sign of a robbery or struggle. de noia's death was just the beginning. >> you would have never thought chippendales would be surrounded with murder. >> during the hunt for nick's killer, things get even more dangerous. there's a hit list on chippendales who leave for other groups. >> really, somebody's going to kill me for this? for a male exotic show, you're going to kill two people? >> the plan allegedly included murder by cyanide poisoning. >> i slept with a knife under my dead. >> it was probably one of the most bizarre murder for hire
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cases in the history of the fbi. [sigh] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [typing] ♪ ♪ [typing] ♪ ♪ [typing] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ music swells ♪ ♪ ♪ [footsteps] ♪ ♪ [typing] ♪ ♪ inspiration is out there. go find it. ♪ ♪ go find it.
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you would have never thought chippendales would be surrounded with murder. ♪ it's raining men ♪ ♪ hallelujah, it's raining men ♪ ♪ amen ♪ >> you've got two men, couldn't have come from two more different worlds. >> banerjee just wanted to money and the control. nick came from what's best for the production. >> both obsessed with pow swer control. >> building this huge empire on, let's just say it, lust. and neither one of them is going to make it out alive. >> steve felt part of solving problems was to make people disappear. >> somebody's going to kill me
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for this, for a male exotic show, you're going to kill two people? >> that is where the chippendale world fell apart. >> okay, forget about all the fun stuff. let me tell you the part you don't know. because nobody has ever heard the real facts. ♪ ooh, that's raining men, yeah ♪ >> behind the huge success of chippendales were two men with opposite personalities, steve banerjee and nick de noia. >> steve was quiet, and was very business focused. >> he often would hang in the shadows at the club. >> nick, on the other hand, was loud and gregarious. >> this manic thinker who was such a perfectionist and had so many big ideas. >> the perfect partnership had given way to tension over profits and creative control. and now nick de noia is dead. >> a man has been shot.
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>> what is the name of your place? >> this is chippendales universal. >> oh, wow. >> new york city police are trying to determine the motive in the murder of an award-winning television producer and choreographer. the victim, nicholas de noia, was shot to death in his office. >> i got a phone call from a family friend who said somebody had walked into the office and fired a single shot. >> candace had just spoken to ick a few hours earlier on the phone. >> i was on the phone with him, i can't -- and he said, i got to go. click. he had never done anything like that before. i don't know if that was the moment that he looked up and saw a man with a gun coming toward him. it's possible that nick's last words were, i got to go, and i heard them. it's possible. i don't know.
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>> nick de noia was a tragic thing. >> the world lost a generous, crazy, loving person. >> he was like my dad, and he was brilliant. >> so it was a very traumatic time for everyone. it has traumatized all of us. >> it killed me. killed me. killed us all. ugh. >> well, there is a big audience out there, let's figure out what the women want and let's give it to them. >> when the nypd first started investigating nick's murder, they wondered, could this have been a break-in? could this have been a lover's quarrel? >> is this a robbery? is this a burglary? but nothing was missing right? is this a random crime? but why come up 15 flights and kill a person in an inner, interior office? >> was it a business dispute gone wrong?
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>> at this point, it's a whodunnit and why. close-mouthed about this particular crime. apparently mr. de noia knew his killer. there were no signs of a struggle. the question now is who the killer was and why he would want nick de noia dead >> in the late 1980s, early 1990s, the murder rate in new york city was really high. murder within the first 48 to 72 hours, you're probably not going to solve it. >> turns out not everyone was a fan of nick de noia. >> detectives had come into the club. we were rehearsing. and questioned us about who would want to kill nick. and i, because i can't shut my mouth, kind of mumbled under my breath, who wouldn't?
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>> "evening magazine" had interviewed nick at a rehearsal. >> if you give me what i want, i'm a sweetheart. the only time you have trouble with me is when you make me break your back. >> a lot of them in painting a picture of who nick was said things like, well, there are a lot of people who probably would have wanted to kill nick de noia because he was such a tough customer. >> you know, there were a lot of rumors around a lot of people. >> i know they talked to us several times. >> i think that they zigzagged a lot. >> then it went to an ex-lover. >> afterwards, i heard they were interviewing some people nick might have been seeing. >> none of those lead to anything concrete. >> then it went to the mob. >> in the '80s, the mob was a little more prevalent than it is today. >> we had connections with the mafia, especially in new york, to pay for so-called protection. >> banerjee felt he was being extorted by the mafia in new york. >> the first night i was there, me and steve, we went out to a club. and he said, you know, i don't
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like this [ bleep ] in new york. i'm like, what the hell you talking about? you're making tons of money. there's a couple thousand girls in there. yes, but [ bleep ] mafia. they get the door and give me what they think i should have. >> there was definitely an undercurrent of organized crime in banerjee's life. it was a tough case. >> but why would the mob kill nick if they were allegedly making money off the new york city club? >> when the detective interviewed me at the funeral, the first thing i told him is maybe you should talk to steve banerjee. >> my first words were steve banerjee did it. >> it seems so obvious to me, right? follow the money. >> the nypd made efforts, but they just couldn't find any evidence. >> nypd called banerjee on the phone to try and get a statement from him. he's in l.a. he's got an alibi. >> i got a call from an officer asking me questions. i go, steve banerjee.
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he goes, no, he's already cleared. he was in the restaurant in l.a. >> when you believe in a story and they don't arrest him, then after a while, you think, well, maybe you're wrong. >> then it was almost like it never even happened. it seemed like nick got written off as some guy who had been in a seedy night club business. isn't this just one of those things? >> as the murder investigation drags on, banerjee has sole control of the business again, but new trouble is ahead. >> the l.a. club is in trouble. >> intentional disregard of the law. >> he couldn't get a license. he was done. >> chippendales is having me followed. i was shocked. >> i knew he would think himself invincible. >> he was just pissed off at this guy. he just wanted him dead. >> you know what? nothing stays secret forever. ♪there's something in the air♪
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you're at chippendales! >> despite the murder of nick denoia, the chippendales clubs in new york and l.a. are still going strong. >> steve banerjee continued to make money from all of his ventures, from the clubs, from the calendars. >> this is a great place for a lot of fun, and crazy women! >> banerjee was able to buy back nick's share of the touring rights from nick's family, and the show just went on. >> there's a scene in "evita" where money just comes pouring from heaven. and that was us. >> he would make $25,000, $30,000 dollars. he would make that in a night! >> all you have to do is reach into your purse or pocket and grab a tip for your favorite dancer. >> i went to steve's house once. i walk in his bedroom, and here's this safe, 3x3, filled to the brim with money.
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>> you can't become that successful and that rich without being just absolutely ruthless. >> steve banerjee is living large. >> steve banerjee will risk his life, do anything, just to get the shot he wants. >> and really enjoying the success of chippendales, which only continues to grow. >> oh, no! >> but at the same time, the l.a. club is in trouble. dogged by violations, by lawsuits, going back to the earliest days in the club. >> severe overcrowding, intentional disregard of the law. it's unacceptable. >> those weren't the club's only problems with the law. one significant case began four years before nick de noia's death. >> steve was being sued for a
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lot of different things, and one of the things he was sued for is he wouldn't let blacks in the club . >> after the show for women was over, they let men come in. banerjee loved that equation because it meant more bar sales, but -- >> he would make the black guys stand in a line to the side. and he would tell the doorman, look, don't -- just don't let them in. >> here's a man who believed that if he had too many black men in a club, white women wouldn't go. >> you can't do that. you can't -- that's discrimination. >> and he didn't care what the legal ramifications are until it became too late. >> in the early '80s, don gibson was a young law student in l.a. who decided to create a sting operation. >> my friends, greg and ben, were both white males. we met at my apartment, and i
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made sure that i was better dressed than they were. and we took photographs of ourselves just to have that empirical evidence. so, when we arrived at chippendales, i approached the doorman, who was white. very muscular, well-built man. i took out my california i.d. card. he said, no, you need a membership card. i said, where can i get a membership card? i didn't know you needed one. ben and greg walked up to the same doorman. no questions asked, they were let in. they came back out, they were so incensed, so upset. this is los angeles, a diverse community, and here is this blatant racism being carried out by this nightclub right in my neighborhood. we approached the doorman. and they pointed to me and said, he was denied admission because he was black. the doorman looked at me and said, no, he was denied admission because he did not have a membership card.
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and they put out their hands, which had been stamped showing they were admitted, and they said, neither did we. and his jaw dropped. and at that point, we said, you'll be hearing more from us. >> they filed a complaint. >> two different state agencies were investigating allegations of racial discrimination by chippendales, including the alleged use of quotas to limit the number of black men admitted to the club. >> don actually goes to a hearing about his case, and there's steve banerjee, whose skin is practically as dark as don's. >> i walked over to him, and i looked him in the eye, and i said, i just want you to know that my grandfather is from bombay and looks just like you, and i walked away. >> in response to the complaint, chippendales said it did not racially discriminate against those looking to get into the club and denied it did so in don's case. but the investigations continued. >> steve felt that part of solving problems was to make
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people disappear. when he felt that he was going to lose, he was just pissed off with this guy. he just wanted him dead. >> while don gibson is waiting for the state agencies to complete their investigations, he receives an unsettling call. >> an employee at a rental car agency finds paperwork in a car with don gibson's name on it. he contacts don and gives it to him. >> it turned out to be a log of a private investigator who was working for chippendales. chippendales is having me followed. i couldn't believe it. i was shocked. >> according to a chippendales employee, banerjee planned to hire a sex worker to pick gibson up and frame him by planting drugs. then planned to blackmail gibson to change his story in order to clear chippendales. >> i'm thinking that he could easily get this guy killed. do i [ bleep ] say something?
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>> i get a phone call from named hodari, and he said, i am the only black dancer at chippendales, and i'm calling you to tell you you're life is in danger. >> you just gotta be careful because steve he's verbalized that it might be to his advantage if you weren't around, so -- >> scared the [ bleep ] out of us. i do think hodari potentially saved my life. >> don gibson's attorneys filed a federal class action lawsuit. >> while chippendales denied any wrongdoing, the company agreed to settle the case by paying $85,000 in damages and committing to hire more black employees. >> in the years that followed, continued safety violations and allegations of sexual discrimination against the club threatened its survival. >> in spite of repeatedly be fined and brought into court, they have repeatedly not paid any attention to that. >> the department of alcoholic beverage control has had enough, and they revoke the liquor license for the original
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l.a. club. >> he couldn't get a license anymore to serve alcohol. he was done. >> in 1988, the original club on overland avenue shuts down. >> the fire commission closed down the club due to too many cases of over crowding. >> he still had new york, but l.a. was done. >> but steve banerjee was about to go on the offensive in ways no one could have imagined. >> banerjee was very aware of copycat groups. >> banerjee was certainly becoming paranoid. >> there was a time when i slept with a knife under my bed. >> there was murder and arson, and greed. probably one of the most bizarre murder for hire cases in the history of the fbi.
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get ready for the first dancer! >> even with the closure of the l.a. club, the chippendales were still flourishing in new york city and in road shows across the country. everybody knew the name chippendales. >> either one of you would make a fine addition to the chippendale family. >> enough to warrant actually being parodied on "saturday night live". >> of course that's my favorite "snl" sketch with patrick swayze and chris farley. >> patrick swayze, would have hired him in a heartbeat to be a chippendale no problem. >> farley, maybe a host. >> despite all his success, banerjee still had grander dreams of global domination. >> in 1991, i was getting stalked by an american guy who had come from los angeles who kept wanting to have meetings
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with me, and they had a troupe of dancers called the chippendales, which he wanted to bring to europe. >> steve banerjee is introduced to a heavy duty music agent, a guy named carl leighton-pope. >> carl had bryan adams, van morrison and deep purple and the guys from squeeze. >> steve banerjee took me to his club. >> chippendles. >> and i wasn't about to do some kind of pseudo sex show. >> ladies, what do you what him to do? >> it was just the most extraordinary thing to see, but it wasn't for me. >> wipe your chin off. shame on you. look at that. what a mess. >> but then a friend has an idea for him, which is that in europe, they should make the show not a nightclub act, but this could be a stage show. this could be a theatrical production. ♪ being so good now ♪ >> i thought, yep, lovely. what do they do?
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what do they sing? and he said, they don't sing. they take their clothes off. and we're going to represent them. >> chippendales london calling. the ultimate ladies night out. a musical with muscles. [ cheers and applause ] >> we had a show at the strand theatre in london, and they had put this amazingly ridiculous poster on the front of the building that you could see from almost anywhere in london that was creating quite a buzz. >> so, we took three weeks, and it sold out. >> and they were just instantly famous and instantly a hit. >> the madness in the audience was almost like with the beatles. they were just going absolutely crazy. it was about an american accent. girls want to hear a guy say, have a nice day. and they were gentleman, and that's what made chippendales
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great. and i thought, i need another troupe. so i called banerjee and said, i need another show. they put a show together, sent it over to me, and we put them on the road. and they started to do ridiculous business. boom. then the belgians called. then the french called. then the germans started calling. >> holland was a very big place, the scandinavian countries definitely. denmark, sweden. at one point i had 120 chippendales touring in five groups around europe. >> it was just unbelievable. it was pandemonium. as far as steve banerjee was concerned, it was all about business. >> there were rival groups popping up that banerjee saw as copycats. >> one of them was this group adonis, which was created by a couple of former chippendales dancers. >> i left them in '91 to go to adonis. you had several dancers that were on tours with chippendales,
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backup dancers. so you had a lot of ex-chippendalers in the group. >> adonis, this rival troupe, is booked to play blackpool, which is this resort town in the uk. >> the place was crowded. it's blackpool. it's the atlantic city of england. and the crowds are great and they're screaming, and i'm going, okay, let's do this. >> banerjee was starting to talk to us more about, what are these guys doing? what business is this guy doing? and he was certainly becoming paranoid. and i thought this is nonsense. >> how much bigger do you want the chippendales to be before you realize that it's us? it's not going to be anybody else. stop it. >> in steve's eyes, he wanted to be the only male exotic dance troupe in town. >> as read scot took the stage in blackpool, he had no idea the terrifying experience that was about to transpire.
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he tells his story in an exclusive interview with the discovery plus series, "curse of the chippendales". >> one night, i was just getting into the show and all of a sudden the producer and the promoter of the show comes over and he asked me to step down off the stage. and he said, you need to come down. we got to talk. >> a detective shows up and has to sit down the dancers and their tour manager. >> he said, we have intercepted a call that there's been a contract put on your life. somebody wants to kill you. how? they said cyanide injection. >> cyanide. >> a syringe full of cyanide. >> the murderers decided to use cyanide. >> and that's when it just gets really dark really quick. it was like i was just punched right in the face with, like, a construction demolition ball. i mean, it just was 10 tons of just impact stopped me dead in
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when i first learned how the murder was going to be a cyanide injection, then it became real. >> in england, the men of adonis continue to perform while knowing that someone had hired a hitman to kill them. >> it doesn't take a lot of cyanide. it would be a quick jab, a sting, it's done, you're gone. in england, i slept with a knife under my bed. the bathroom door would be open. a light would always be on. i'm waiting for somebody to come in, and i'm, scared to death. what about your son? what about your family? and i said, banerjee. it's got to be banerjee.
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♪ ♪ >> the fbi in las vegas gets a call from a man who goes by the name strawberry. strawberry is an fbi informant who has a bizarre story to tell. >> strawberry tells the fbi that he was hired by somebody to go to blackpool with cyanide -- >> to take out three exotic male dancers who dance under the name of adonis in the uk. >> the way he was supposed to kill them was by injecting them with cyanide. >> the fbi, of course, wants to know who hired strawberry? that person is ray colon. >> ray colon was a muscle guy for the mob. a very charming guy. he could walk into any place and talk to anybody. en why, how you doing? how are ya? they would talk to you about anything and everything. talk to you about the day, just
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like you knew this guy for years. very charming charisma with a kind of threatening subtext. "don't mess with me." >> in 1978, ray colon walks into chippendales, meets steve banerjee, and ray becomes steve's go-to guy whenever he needs to get something done. that something could mean installing new sound equipment at the club, or it could be more nefarious things like, say, setting a rival club on fire. ♪ ♪ >> the agents in los angeles head up to colon's house in santa clarita. they conduct a search warrant of the premises. and lo and behold, what do they find? >> there is a bag with a skull and crossbones on it, like out of a movie or something. >> the skull and cross bones are literally hand drawn. i mean, you can't make this stuff up. >> inside is all of this cyanide.
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>> 46 grams of cyanide, enough to kill 230 people. they arrest ray, and after sitting in jail for about seven months, he decides to fully cooperate with the fbi and tell his story. >> colon not only provides all this information on the adonis hit, he also provides all the information on the related nick de noia murder. and he links them together in a way that no one had at that point, which is steve banerjee. he's the man at the top of the pile. he's the one who's hired ray to carry out these hits. >> and ray tells the fbi how steve banerjee asked him to hire someone to kill nick denoia. >> he said, i want someone murdered. i said, are you out of your mind? >> ray appears in this 1998 british documentary, "chippendales a secret history." >> although ray appears in silhouette, the documentary identifies him by name.
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>> and i said, no, that ain't going to happen, steve. he said, come on, man, you do the right thing for your friend. >> banerjee tells colon, if you don't do this, i'm going to have the mafia take care of you. >> he says, come on, just get someone to do it. this guy de noia, he's killing me, you know? he's taking millions from me. i guess that's when i sold my soul. >> ray colon reveals that he was the middle man in nick de noia's murder. he hired gilberto rivera lopez to pull the trigger. >> turns out rivera lopez is already in prison for an unrelated crime. >> the golden goose, so to speak, is steve banerjee, the owner of chippendales. >> now they've got to get steve banerjee on tape, and it's like off to the races. ♪ ♪ >> the fbi arranges for colon's release from prison to work as an undercover informant. >> the day we get colon out, i happen to be wearing a five-shot on my ankle.
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i pull it out of my holster. colon's in the back seat. i reach over the back seat. i say, here, ray, take this. you might as well put a bullet in my head, because i'm a three-year agent. if you screw us over and run on us i'm going to lose my career. you might as well just kill us right now because you're going to [ bleep ] us over. >> handing a gun to a confessed criminal. >> colon, he says, "are you guys crazy?" he said, "i've told you already, i'm with you guys 200%." >> so, the fbi, had ray start to contact steve. >> banerjee was not keen on talking on the phone, which becomes a problem for us. >> the police face a real issue, banerjee. he's so paranoid. i mean, this is a guy who thinks everyone is trying to rip him off, so how are they going to get him to talk freely about his role in these crimes? >> the plan is that ray is gonna tell banerjee that he is out of jail so he could get treatment for his kidney disease, which is a real illness that ray was suffering from at the time.
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>> finally ray convinces steve to meet. and they decided to meet at a ihop in santa monica. >> we're excited about the prospects of this meeting. we have a recording device on colon. we need a good, clear conversation of the two of them reliving the past -- the arsons, the murder. so this was the best shot that we had. we send him into the meeting, and colon is immediately directed into the restroom. banerjee puts his finger to his lips, tells colon not to say a word. >> colon starts trying to have a conversation with him. steve starts writing his answers on post-it notes, showing them to colon, and then tearing them up and throwing them into the toilet. >> ray is trying to get steve to mention the murder, to say anything about it, to mention de noia. >> banerjee wasn't biting. we don't capture anything on a
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recording device. there's a lot of rustling and you could hear whisper talking. you could hear scratching of a pencil. you just can't hear anything of value. frustration and more frustration. >> scott gariola is really at a low point. >> i'm on a merry-go-round of emotions. >> you need to get a guy to talk, but this guy is so scared of being recorded. >> it's like we're playing chess against banerjee. we make a move, he counters us. >> so what garriola comes up with is so outside the box. >> it's a high-stakes plan that could easily end in disaster. >> there's a saying in the fbi be nice to everybody. be kind to everybody. but also have a plan to kill them. vere eczema why hide your skin if you can help heal your skin from within. with dupixent adults saw long-lasting, clearer skin and significantly less itch. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems, such as eye pain or vision changes,
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fbi agent scott garriola had to resort to unusual methods in his investigation of steve banerjee. >> we had a major problem was
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that banerjee knew colon was arrested. it's going to be hard to convince that person on the outside that this person that's in custody is not cooperating with the government. so that's what we had to overcome. it was a major obstacle. >> scott garriola has this big idea. he is going to get ray colon to pretend he's a fugitive from justice, to escape overseas, tell banerjee he's a fugitive from justice, meet with banerjee in europe. so why would he ever suspect that he was being recorded in that circumstance? >> and that was the plan we set in motion. i obtained a passport for colon so that he could travel under an alias name. >> fbi agent garriola was bending the rules again. the fbi doesn't normally take p work undercover. >> banerjee wanted to meet in urich. we got colon a disguise that he could wear.
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>> a beret and a mustache to make banerjee convinced that he's actually a fugitive from justice. >> you know, what would you expect a fugitive to do when he's overseas on the run? maybe he changes his appearance a little bit. >> steve compliments him on how different he looks, very european, as if he's been on the run for quite a while. >> colon and banerjee dispatch to a hotel room. >> the fbi have the rooms on either side of ray's supposed hideout room. >> this is absolutely a do-or-die situation. if banerjee doesn't give us what we need in this conversation, what's the plan? i mean, this has to work. >> ray has taken the strategy that, instead of bringing up the murder, which might spook steve, he instead tries to talk about other things in hope that steve will bring it up.
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>> and i'm sitting there with the headphones on, and i've got my legal pad out. i wanted to make sure that if this recording device failed, i could at least testify to what i overheard. >> steve says his life is horrible because he's constantly afraid he's going to get arrested. he talks about possibly going on the lam and fleeing to india. >> he told colon that there's nothing more important to banerjee, after the dollar, than his freedom. the conversation went on for three or four hours. i mean, we're all exhausted at this point. we're going way past midnight. colon is drinking. banerjee's commenting about how much colon can drink, but i'm sure colon's drinking a lot because he's nervous as heck. >> steve also says that the walls in the hotel are superthin, so he's afraid the fbi are listening in from the next room. and ray pounds on the wall to
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show how solid they are, even though the fbi really are in the next room listening in. >> banerjee had not let go of his paranoia. he's actually meeting with colon in part to assuage some of that paranoia. >> banerjee's desperate. the thing he really wants to know is if the fbi had mentioned anything to colon about the "d." that's what was the code word that they used for the murder of de noia. they would call it the "d," for de noia's name. >> in that point, steve starts talking about the murder and how it's not linked to him. >> and then banerjee says to colon, do they know about the "d"? >> banerjee specifically asked, i recall, as clear as a bell, be did they ask you about the "d"? and then banerjee asked colon, do they know that i gave you the money to buy the guns? >> that is the moment when
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colon, and certainly garriola, know that they've got him. he has confessed to purchasing the guns and setting up the hit of nick de noia. >> and the conversations were perfect, exactly what we needed to hear banerjee say on tape. >> the fbi now has enough to arrest steve banerjee. >> but banerjee did something that would shock all of them. ♪ singing and driving ♪ ♪ playing the drums ♪ ♪ what could be better ♪ ♪ taking a nap ♪ ♪ drive a friend home ♪ ♪ stop for a snack ♪ ♪ things you can't do ♪ ♪ using an app ♪ ♪ don't send emojis ♪ ♪ go hug your mom ♪ ♪ drive to the airport ♪ ♪ show him some love ♪
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it may increase your bleeding risk if you take certain medicines. tell your doctor about all planned medical or dental procedures. the number one cardiologist-prescribed blood thinner. ask your doctor about eliquis. steve banerjee is behind bars tonight. >> accused of hiring somebody to kill three of his former business associates. >> steve banerjee was constantly worried he was going to be arrested. >> now he has also been charged with racketeering by federal prosecutors. >> and now the time had finally come. >> we walk up on him, put handcuffs on him. i remember he was kind of shaking quite a bit. the only thing he says to us,
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you know, this is b.d., and i can beat this case, i've got good lawyers. >> if convicted, banerjee faces life in prison and a $1.75 million fine. >> banerjee ends up getting charged on eight counts. >> banerjee was denied bail late today. prosecutors are voicing suspicions that he might try to flee the country. >> i'm thinking to myself that, how the hell is banerjee going to do time? he is not really cut out for that kind of life. >> so, in the summer of 1994, banerjee and his lawyers finally make a plea, which is accepted by the court. >> banerjee agreed to plead guilty to the greater charge of murder. as well, banerjee agreed to give up his interest shares in chippendales. >> are you kidding? a plea deal? he murdered my buddy. no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. >> his plea deal required that he be sentenced to 26 years in prison, but what was also devastating for steve banerjee is that he would lose ownership of chippendales. >> on the day of his sentencing,
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igot clark wilson, the emcee. >> because we wanted to see him go down. >> i was expecting to come here today and see steven banerjee in shackles. >> we sat down there, and we're waiting, and it was a very long time before somebody came in and said there would be no sentencing today. >> banerjee was found hanging in his jail cell. he had committed suicide the morning of his sentencing. >> this final shock burst onto the local newscasts. >> just hours before he was to be sentenced, chippendales owner soman banerjee commited suicide in his jail cell. >> and my immediate reaction was anger. he got to choose his time, and nick didn't get to choose his time, and somehow it still doesn't seem right. and i know that those of us closest to nick still are very angry about all of this. >> he cheated the justice system. he cheated all of us. >> nick de noia was a dear friend, and he was a creative genius. and now his murderer is dead by
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suicide. and so i guess that is some form of closure, but it sure doesn't feel like it today. >> some speculate this was one final scheme by banerjee. >> his biggest fear was anybody having a piece of chippendales. >> by killing himself, all his assets go to his family instead of the government. >> and i thought to myself, well, there's a method to his madness. you know? >> so while steve banerjee's family did inherit chippendales following his suicide, the company has been sold a few times since. >> gilbert lopez rivera, who was the person who actually killed nick de noia, was eventually convicted of homicide. he was sentenced to 25 years to life. colon got a reduced sentence for his cooperation. >> he served over two years in federal prison and house arrest before he was released in 1996. >> special agent scott garriola went on to have a successful 31-year career with the fbi, including investigating and
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arresting the infamous boston crime boss whitey bulger in 2011. >> and the chippendales? well, almost 40 years later and under new ownership, the dance troupe survived that period of darkness and tragedy, even thoo thrived. of course, the white cuffs and collars still remain. >> so now chippendales can be found in las vegas at rio hotel and casino, where they really do occupy the exalted chair of the perfect bachelorette party destination. >> make some noise! > and celebrity guest dancers even join the fun, from tyson beckford to ian ziering. as the fascination with chippendales continues, hit movies have been inspired by the dance troupe. ♪ it's raining men ♪ ♪ hallelujah, it's raining men ♪ >> and a new documentary series, “curse of the chippendales,” is now streaming on discovery plus.
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>> and they scream, take it off! >> the horribleness of steve banerjee, all of his crap didn't take anything away from the wonderful entertainment that we put together. >> the almighty dollar just took control of his life, and he would do anything, go through any cost to you know, hold onto that. >> i think that the story of chippendales is still important to tell, in terms of how an apparent business success can go murderously wrong. it's a kind of instructive morality tale about human nature and the perils of power and success. ♪ >> this is just one of those stories everyone knows, chippenda chippendales, but few would have known about the tragedy and drama along the way. >> incredible insight into some of what was happening behind the scenes there. that is our program for tonight. i'm amy robach. >> i'm david muir. for all of us here at "20/20," thank you for watching. have a good night.
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anchor: the giants get it done
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in game one against the job -- the dodgers tonight. anchor 2: the governor's decision will the x-rays from your urgent care visit look good. just stay off that leg, okay? what about my rec team? i'm all they got. next season. thanks doc. wow, he already scheduled my pt. i love doctors who work with athletes. does he know you tripped over a basketball? that's a sports injury.


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