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  • Raechal Shewfelt

'Secrets of the Chippendales Murders' finale: A surprising source brings down the company's founder

Raechal Shewfelt· Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

April 4, 2022

A photograph of Chippendales founder Steve Banerjee used in Secrets of the Chippendales Murders."(Photo: A&E)

On the fourth and final episode of A&E's Secrets of the Chippendales Murders, Steve Banerjee, the man who founded the popular male exotic dancer show at his club in Los Angeles, is apprehended for trying to kill the competition.

He was arrested on Sept. 2, 1993, for hiring someone to murder his one-time business partner, Nick DeNoia, as well as people to set fire to competing clubs. The way he ended up behind bars was surprising, and it had everything to do with Ray Colon, the man Banerjee had tasked with farming out his dirty work. Colon had already been caught, but law enforcement still needed more evidence on Banerjee, so they convinced Colon to wear a wire. They promised that Colon would benefit from his cooperation when it came to his own sentence.

The problem was that Colon hadn't been in touch with Banerjee for a while. Although they had been close at one point, they worried that Banerjee would be suspicious if Colon just popped back up in his life and began trying to get him to incriminate himself.

"Banerjee was no dummy," attorney Frank Rothman, the defense attorney for DeNoia's killer, who was hired by Colon, says. "Banerjee knows that Ray's arrested. Banerjee knows that Ray's in jail. There was no way in hell he was ever gonna sit down with Ray and give Ray the things that the FBI needed Ray to get from Steve Banerjee to convict him with his own words. But Ray Colon was persistent, and he knew he wasn't going back to jail, so he had to make it work."

Colon says in never-before-released footage of him meeting with authorities that he and Banerjee were "pretty darn close." They met just after Banerjee opened his club, and he was his choice to stop the competition from DeNoia, who had been the choreographer for Chippendales, and two former Chippendales dancers, who had started their own Chippendales-like business.

The audience enjoys a vintage Chippendales performance. (Photo: Getty Images)

Colon tells Banerjee that he's out of prison on medical furlough, and he did have some health problems. Still, when Colon explains that he needs hush money so he can leave the country, Banerjee responds that the only way he'll have a real conversation with him is if it's out of the United States. They set a meeting in Zurich, Switzerland. Banerjee's lawyer, Bruce Nahin, explains that his client thought the city was "a safe haven."

Once Colon and Banerjee got to talking, Colon convinced him to go to his room, where they would be alone and it would be quiet.

That's where Banerjee asked Colon about the gun that been used to shoot DeNoia and what had happened to it. He acknowledged on tape that he had given Colon the money to purchase it. He confirmed that he had given Colon an address to execute the crime. Banerjee even talked about having a plan to escape to India if he was ever caught.

Not that Banerjee hadn't been suspicious.

"He said, 'They are probably in the next room,'" Colon recounted in that meeting with authorities. "I said, 'Of course not.' Of course they were." Colon had even banged on the walls to prove that they were thick, and that no one could hear them.

Banerjee was arrested and later pleaded guilty to his crimes. One day before he was scheduled to be sentenced, he was found dead in his prison cell, having died by suicide.

But the Chippendales show goes on. Former Jersey Shore star Vinny Guadagnino currently stars in the Las Vegas incarnation. The company has been under new ownership for decades and, according to them, no employees from Banerjee's era remain there.


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