Why Did Somen Banerjee Change His Name to Steve?

Image Credit: ABC News' Nightline

Although born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on October 8, 1946, as Somen Banerjee, we actually know the Bengali founder of Chippendales better by his chosen, much-westernized name Steve. It’s what he always preferred to use when it came to his professional life, no matter the impact it had on his roots, as carefully indicated in Hulu’s eight-part limited series ‘Welcome to Chippendales.’ So now, if you wish to learn more about his background as well as the reason he decided to adopt a different name entirely, and that too, Steve, we’ve got the essential details for you.

Somen Banerjee’s Name Change

It was back in the 1960s that Somen Banerjee emigrated from the West Indian port city of Mumbai to Canada before deciding to travel south to the United States and eventually settling down in Los Angeles in 1969. That’s around the time he took up the tag of “Steve” because not only was it a little similar to his birth name, but he also wished it to help him blend into his environment a bit more seamlessly. After all, his entire goal for relocating was reportedly to pursue and achieve the “American Dream” in a way that would put most locals to shame — success was his ambition as well as aspiration.

Steve//Image Credit: New York Post

The Hulu production actually suggests bigotry as the primary ground for Somen’s shift, yet there have been no reports either confirming or denying the same, meaning this aspect remains murky (albeit highly plausible). However, we do know he wanted to stay away from stereotypes as much as possible despite the fact Steve was fulfilling one in the early to mid-1970s simply by serving as a local gas station manager. With this said, according to the 2014 book ‘Deadly Dance: The Chippendales Murders’ by K. Scot Macdonald and Patrick MontesDeOca, Steve did his best to contrast the overall effect of his job.

“Although he carried 160 pudgy pounds on a 5’9″ frame, Steve always dressed for success,” the source text reads, in part. “He wore large, at-the-time stylish glasses, colorful button-down Oxford shirts with silk ties, and dress slacks. Adding to his out-of-place appearance at the gas station was his attitude, which betrayed at every opportunity his belief that his present work was far beneath what was going to be his true station in life. He was brusque with customers, showing his resentment when they even just asked for the restroom key.”

Image Credit: ABC News’ Nightline

In other words, since his objective was essentially to have a classy, respectable, and undeniably successful enterprise of his own one day, with a name to match the same, Somen became Steve. Yet, it’s imperative to note he didn’t drop his birth name at any given moment, which could be because it’s pronounced “show men” in his native tongue and resembles the kind of ventures he hoped to pursue. He started with the idea of having a posh backgammon club but ultimately ended with an exotic all-male striptease troupe named the Chippendales, named after 18th Century English master furniture maker Thomas Chippendale.

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