Read Scot, a former Chippendales performer, was having a good night in England at his new gig with male exotic dance troupe “Adonis” when one of the group’s founders came over and asked him to step off the stage, he said.
Scot stated that they walked over to a small office space in the theatre where Adonis was performing — a massive show in the Atlantic City-esque resort town of Blackpool, England — and that’s when he learned his life was in danger.”There are two gentlemen in suits who introduce themselves as FBI,” Scot explained. “‘We believe someone is out to get you,’ they said.”Scot claimed that during that July 1991 conversation, FBI agents explained that they had intercepted a call and believed a hit had been placed on him and two other Adonis members to be killed by cyanide injection.”It was so real that I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe someone would do that to me.
But, once it hit me, I realised, “This is serious.” Someone is attempting to assassinate me “Scot stated. “‘Banerjee,’ I said. ‘It has to be Banerjee.'”Chippendales was founded by Steve Banerjee. An FBI investigation eventually revealed Banerjee was the mastermind behind multiple murder-for-hire plots, including one against Scot, hidden behind the glitz and glam of one of the sexiest shows in entertainment.
The full storey will air on ABC’s “20/20” on FRIDAY at 9 p.m. ET. The intimate details of this case are also featured in “Curse of the Chippendales,” a new Discovery+ series.Banerjee, who owned the Chippendales nightclub in West Los Angeles, debuted his first show featuring male strippers in 1979. The concept was an instant success, and Banerjee, an immigrant from Mumbai, India, had lines of women forming outside his club almost every night.”It was the first time ever that something was completely geared toward the ladies,” said Candace Mayeron, former Chippendales associate producer. “We created a space for women to let it all hang out.”Banerjee wanted to improve the performance and eventually expand in the early 1980s, so he hired former Emmy-award winning television producer and choreographer Nick DeNoia to help with the expansion.
They eventually opened a new Chippendales show in a New York City club.According to Scot, Banerjee and DeNoia’s relationship began to deteriorate, and they frequently clashed over the show’s creative direction. Banerjee and DeNoia eventually struck a deal on the back of a napkin in which DeNoia would receive half of the profits from a touring version of the Chippendales.
When it became clear that touring had become a profitable part of the business, Banerjee became frustrated with DeNoia’s success and distrustful that DeNoia was paying Banerjee his fair share of the touring profits, according to FBI special agent Scott Garriola, and hired a man named Ray Colon to help carry out an attack on his business partner.Gilberto Rivera Lopez, Colon’s accomplice, was recruited.
According to Garriola, Colon and Rivera Lopez travelled from Los Angeles to the Chippendales office in New York on April 7, 1987. Rivera Lopez shot DeNoia in his office and fled before police arrived.Nothing connected Banerjee to the murder at the time. Business continued as usual, and the case went unsolved for years. Scot stated that Banerjee purchased the touring rights from the DeNoia family.
Other male strip clubs and performances began to appear in the early 1990s, including Adonis in London, which was founded by a group of former Chippendales performers who hired Scot as the emcee.”They were now competing directly with Chippendales. So, what do you think Banerjee will do when he has a competition? He intended to have these people killed “Garriola stated.In 1991, an FBI agent in Las Vegas received a call from an informant known as “Strawberry,” who said Colon had attempted to hire him to carry out a hit on Adonis employees.”[Colon] gave him an eyedropper bottle filled with cyanide,” Garriola explained. “[Strawberry] took everything, flew over there [to England], and got cold feet.”Authorities searched Colon’s house based on the informant’s information and discovered 46 grammes of cyanide, enough to kill 230 people, according to the FBI. Colon was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder and murder for hire.Colon decided to cooperate with the FBI after sitting in jail for seven months. According to Garriola, Colon told authorities that Banerjee was responsible for DeNoia’s murder and the plot against the Adonis dancers.
Garriola stated that they decided to set up a sting operation using Colon as an undercover informant to secretly record Banerjee admitting to his role in the crimes. According to Garriola, the FBI arranged for Colon’s release from jail under the guise that he needed special treatment for a terminal kidney problem.Meanwhile, Rivera Lopez, the trigger man in DeNoia’s murder, was already in jail for an unrelated offence.On June 23, 1992, while wearing a recording device and under FBI surveillance, Colon asked Banerjee to meet him at an I-HOP in Santa Monica, California. Garriola had taken Colon’s boxer shorts to an Italian tailor he knew, who had made a flap in the underwear to conceal the micro cassette recorder. But, according to Garriola, the meeting was a flop.When Colon arrived, Banerjee told him to meet him in the bathroom and placed his finger to his lips. According to Garriola, whenever Colon asked a question, a paranoid Banerjee wrote his answer on a Post-it note, ripped it up, and threw it in the toilet.
When Garriola claimed Banerjee forced Colon to strip down to his boxer shorts in the bathroom but couldn’t find the device, the altered boxer shorts came in handy.”Nothing is captured on a recording device,” Garriola explained. “There’s a lot of rustling, and you can hear whispers and the scratching of a pencil. You simply cannot hear anything worthwhile.”The FBI had a “major problem,” according to Garriola, because Banerjee was aware of Colon’s arrest and may have been suspicious as to why Colon had been released.”It will be difficult to persuade that person on the outside that this person in custody is not cooperating with the government,” he said. “It was a significant impediment.”Garriola said he devised a new plan in which Colon pretended to be a fugitive on the run in Europe and Banerjee met him there. Banerjee agreed to fly to Europe to meet Colon when he learned he was in Europe.
The two men met in a hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, to discuss business. What Banerjee didn’t realise, according to Garriola, was that the FBI was secretly listening in on their conversation from the room next door. Garriola estimated that the conversation lasted three to four hours. Banerjee, who was still unsure whether he could trust Colon, even said at one point that the walls were thin and that he was worried the FBI was listening next door. But, according to Garriola, their perseverance paid off in the end.
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