Was Electric Tomato a Real Nightclub? Did Steve Banerjee Burn it Down?

Image Credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu

Hulu’s ‘Welcome to Chippendales’ is a true-crime drama that follows the life and crimes of Steve Banerjee. Over the course of the season, we see him turn from an entrepreneur who wants to live the American dream to a vicious person who cannot bear someone else profiting from his idea. With every episode, he becomes more and more intolerant of the people around him, but he actually commits a crime in the fifth episode when he orders his employee, Ray Colon to burn down a rival nightclub. Steve and Ray notice that Electric Tomato has started its own version of the services that Chippendales provides. Later, at Steve’s behest, Ray burns down the place. If you are wondering whether something like this really happened and if Electric Tomato was an actual place, then here’s what you should know about it.

Electric Tomato: Fictional Club Inspired by Real Places

No, Electric Tomato is not a real nightclub in Los Angeles. It is, however, a representation of the real places that faced the brunt of Steve Banerjee’s anger when they started ladies’ nights in their places, themed similarly to that in Chippendales. In October 1993, Banerjee was indicted for several crimes, which included the attempted arson of two places- Moody’s Disco in Santa Monica in 1979 and Red Onion Restaurant in Marina Del Rey in 1984. At this time, Banerjee was to be tried on seven counts, which included the murder for hire of Nick De Noia and other former Chippendales dancers.

Image Credit: New York Post

Banerjee pleaded guilty to most of the charges, including the attack on Red Onion. The nature of his crimes was a testament to the lengths that he was ready to go to secure the success of his business and “that anybody or anything that got in Banerjee’s way, he would hire somebody to kill or burn the competitor”. While he had been indulged in all these things for a long time, the attempted arsons didn’t come to light until he was arrested for the murder of Nick De Noia. In fact, it is believed that Banerjee probably wouldn’t have been caught for putting a hit out on his ex-partner if he hadn’t continued trying to sabotage the business of others and hatching plans to kill former employees.

Later, Ray Colon, who was Banerjee’s go-to man for executing his nefarious plans revealed that there were a couple of other places that the man wanted to destroy. One of his targets was Oskos, another LA club that Banerjee felt had started copying his style and was going to lure his customers away. “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,” Colon revealed in ‘Secrets of Chippendales’, The Sun reported. On Banerjee’s orders, Colon and his friends tried to burn down Oskos by throwing Molotov cocktails at it. However, they didn’t manage to inflict enough damage to shut it down.

Colon might have been privy to Banerjee’s murderous streak, but other people close to him were said to have kept out of the loop. His lawyer, Bruce Nahin revealed in the documentary that he first learned about his client’s involvement with the firebombing from the FBI. “Steve wasn’t real happy with the competition. So I started to wonder if it was a charade, on Steve’s part, to double our security – because if we were the only club that didn’t get hit, then that would look suspicious. And if that was true, Steve was clearly not the person I thought he was,” Nahin said, as reported by The Independent. Banerjee succeeded in keeping his crimes a secret for a while, but eventually, it all came tumbling down on him and he had to pay the price for his wrongdoings.

Read More: What Was Steve Banerjee’s Net Worth at the Time of His Death?