As a Hulu original miniseries exploring every aspect of Chippendales’ dark history without a beat of hesitation, ‘Welcome to Chippendales’ can only be described as both gripping as well as haunting. That’s because this eight-parter charts not just the way this all-male striptease joint catering exclusively to women rose to the top but also the impact sex, greed, and drugs eventually had on it. Yet for now, if you simply wish to learn more about dancer Otis (portrayed by CW’s ‘Roswell, New Mexico’ star Quentin Plair) — in particular, the origin of his character — we’ve got you covered.
Is Otis Based on a Real Person?
From what we can tell, trained dancer, aspiring actor, and family man Otis Mccutcheon is not at all based on an actual individual or a Chippendale performer who was an early component of the organization. The truth is his part in this production is basically to give us an insight into what it might’ve been like for a struggling Black entertainer turned stripper back in the 1970s and 80s, but it’s rather untrue. After all, the Chippendales faced multiple racial discrimination lawsuits in its early years for rarely hiring any people of color in any capacity — that’s despite its founder being an India-born Bengali man.
You might think Somen “Steve” Banerjee would’ve wanted to make his male strip show as diverse as possible, considering the fact he was an immigrant with big dreams and aspirations, but no. Instead, as per reports, his earlier employees were almost exclusively white — in 1985, only six out of 130 people on the payroll were Black — and African Americans weren’t allowed entry into the club either. It took several cases, yet this year (1985), he pledged 25% of all new Chippendales’ staffers would be Black, and there’d be no discrimination in who could step foot in his establishment.
Furthermore, Steve promised to do business worth at least $500,000 with local African American merchants as well as pay a total of $85,000 (not exceeding $250 per individual) to those who could prove they were denied admission into the strip joint based on their skin color. We should also mention that according to LA Mag, Black dancers were occasionally hired as Chippendales garnered more recognition. However, just one Black dancer was present in the crew at a time, with the group predominately comprising white performers. This likely includes their clubs and national tour showcases.
Coming to the most well-loved original Chippendale dancer of them all, a title bestowed upon Otis in the Hulu show, it was arguably none other than Dan Peterson (now a commercial fashion photographer). “I would never have even imagined working here,” he said back then. “It was not in my agenda, but sometimes you have to be open enough to go with the flow, and that was not my personality… [This has] opened up my closed mind, understanding that we are all different, we all come from a different point of view, and the ability to see that and to understand helps me navigate through this time of life.”