'Whenever a male stripper takes their clothes off, they've still go, like, a fireman's hat on, or a tool belt on, or a policeman's gun on a hostler, right? Because even when a man's naked, a woman wants to know that he has a job.'
Comedian Jim Jefferies
Next three shots from Annika Hoogeveen
I didn't know much about the history of Chippendales until starting to work on this series of posts. Many of you may be aware of the sordid past of founder Steve Banerjee, but I was fascinated to learn of his violent history and death in 1994. I would guess most fans of the show and dancers don't research it's history, but to me, the history of Chippendales is one the most interesting pieces of the story.
'Chippendales was founded in Los Angeles in the early Eighties by an American called Somen 'Steve' Banerjee. He wanted to transform male stripping from a sleazy hen-night sideshow into a kind of mini-Broadway extravaganza that would attract middle-class women. It was successful. But then Banerjee went bonkers. Because he hired a hitman - yes, you read that correctly, a hitman - to wipe out some of his former strippers who had set themselves up as competition in other strippering (if that's the word) troupes. Banerjee was apprehended by the FBI and hanged himself in prison in 1994. No strippers died, but it cast a dark shadow on the Chippendales' world.'
One thing I may have in common with Banerjee is the art of the tease. I purposely structure FH to have an element of tease. When I'm sent images, I am sometimes disappointed when they're all nudes. My favorite sets usually start with portraits, and clothed shots, then shirtless and nudes. For me the tease, the build up, add to the enjoyment of full nude images. Now Chippendales, except for the occasional wardrobe malfunction, doesn't provide the full Monty, but then again if it did, it most likely would not have reach the levels of popularity that did in the eighties and nineties.
In addition to being all tease, one of the biggest complaints I have heard about Chippendales is that it's geared towards a mostly female audience. For some reason this never really bothered me. I understand that women need a place to enjoy themselves, away from men, a place that is just for them. I get that when Chippendales began, there weren't as many places for men to see male strippers, but I understand it from a marketing stand point, especially in the eighties. We also all know that there were a fair share of gay dancers, and the company was fully aware that many of those buying the calendars, playing cards and merchandise were men. Today, men are welcome to attend the shows but from what I have read, very few actually attend. I'm not really sure I would have any interest today, but would have loved to have been in the audience at some of the shows early performances.