As an original limited series that explores the sordid history of the nation’s first major all-male striptease dance joint catering exclusively to women, Hulu’s ‘Welcome to Chippendales‘ is simply riveting. That’s because there was sex, money, drugs, and murders involved at nearly every step of the way during the venture’s initial few years, with its founder-owner being the one responsible for it all. Yet for now, if you just wish to learn more about him, Somen “Steve” Banerjee — with a particular focus on the details of his background as well as early experiences — we’ve got you covered.
Was Somen “Steve” Banerjee Indian?
Although the man behind Chippendales is primarily known to the world as Steve, he was actually born Somen Banerjee in Bombay (now officially referred to as Mumbai), India, on October 8, 1946. He originally hails from a Bengali family — an Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic group emanating from the country’s Bengal (east) region — who’d proudly been serving as printers for three generations prior to him. Therefore, he was essentially the black sheep of the clan as he decided to step away for good and emigrate to the United States to pursue a much grander life for himself in the late 1960s.
Unfortunately, information regarding Somen’s schooling, familial bonds, or even childhood friends/interests is virtually nonexistent, meaning his tale truly begins from the moment he packed his bags. The then 20-something-year-old reportedly left his native port city for Canada at first, only to soon travel south to the United States and settle down around Los Angeles County, California, in 1969. That’s where he took over the management of a Mobil gas station before ultimately buying a failing nightclub called Round Robin (in 1975) and gradually transforming it into Chippendales (in 1979).
It was somewhere along this way that Somen adopted the westernized tag of Steve without really dropping his birth name at any given moment; he thus became Somen “Steve” Banerjee. The truth is the former is pronounced “show men” in his native Bengali tongue, so the fact it bears quite a resemblance to the kind of endeavors he hoped to pursue in the long run could be why he retained it. However, once you take a look at the entirety of his story, it appears as if he wished to step away from not just immigration stereotypes but rather his origin as much as possible.
After all, Steve purportedly tried his best to counter his appearance no matter where he was, always dressed to impress, and had this notion in his head of being purely classy, elegant, and successful. The latter is part of the reason there was little to no diversity in his employees/dancers during the initial years of the corporation, and people of color were also often not allowed to enter the strip shows. Things did gradually improve, yet the fact remained that his goal was to achieve the American Dream in a way that would put most locals to shame, which seemingly often drove him to leave his roots, ethics, and values behind.