‘The Godfather with fake tan’: how the Chippendales became TV dynamite | Television

For some time again there, the Chippendales have been inescapable. Buffed and sheened to a excessive polish, strutting round in nothing however bowties and cuffs like the oblivious victims of the world’s smartest tuxedo thieves, the male stripping troupe appeared unstoppable. Fashioned in 1979, in just some brief years they went from weekday filler act in a failing bar to globe-straddling success story. However then all of it went improper.

Whereas they’re nonetheless technically a going concern – the web site for his or her sole remaining Las Vegas act guarantees a “mantastic, sex-god, abs occasion”, whereas their on-line retailer affords every thing from Santa hats to dildos – public curiosity has lengthy since waned. What started as a genuinely electrifying type of leisure, providing ladies the identical thrills that males had taken without any consideration for hundreds of years, has now change into kitschy and quaint; a remnant of a world that has lengthy since ceased to be.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply the Chippendales aren’t large enterprise. At the begin of the yr, Gimlet Media launched a podcast collection entitled Welcome to Your Fantasy, which put their success right into a genuinely berserk context. If you happen to listened, you’ll know that the group ultimately descended into chaos as its founder bought caught up in an orgy of racketeering, arson and homicide.

Such was the success of Welcome to your Fantasy that it was shortly optioned for TV, with Kumail Nanjiani set to play its founder, Somen “Steve” Banerjee. Whereas that collection, titled Immigrant, continues to be in growth, we now have Curse of the Chippendales, a Discovery+ collection accessible to observe in the UK on Amazon Prime. Abruptly anyone with a passing curiosity in the rise and fall of 1 particular male stripper troupe finds themselves spoilt for selection.

Model Sondra Theodore tips a Chippendale at a bridal shower in the Playboy Mansion.
Curse of the Chippendales … mannequin Sondra Theodore ideas a Chippendale at a bridal bathe in the Playboy Mansion. {Photograph}: Sondra Theodore

And little surprise, as a result of the story of the Chippendales is jaw-dropping. Throughout 4 episodes, Curse of the Chippendales unfolds like a pacy airport paperback. There’s intercourse. There are medication. There are mullets. There are males in tiny pants thrusting their genitals into bowler hats. There’s success that comes so shortly that no person concerned fairly is aware of how to manage with it. After which, at the finish, there may be tragedy piled on tragedy. It’s like watching The Godfather, if the solid of The Godfather had simply painted themselves orange and developed a crippling habit to Veet.

The collection captures the sheer giddy hysteria of early Chippendale exhibits, the place buffed-up males with WWE haircuts would delight in the adulation of girls who, just some years earlier than, have been in thrall to Beatlemania. At the outset, the enterprise is offered to viewers as enjoyable and frothy. Then we reduce to the interviewees, who sit starkly earlier than harsh lights, their voices ruined by a long time of chain-smoking. These individuals, you shortly determine, have seen issues. They chased the euphoria of the early days just a little too exhausting, and their our bodies have been struggling to catch up ever since. It’s a bittersweet trace of what’s to return.

As a result of, midway by way of the season’s 4 episodes, you possibly can see the success of the Chippendales begin to gallop uncontrolled. The larger they get, the extra opposition they encounter. Non secular teams begin to stage protests. Golf equipment are firebombed. Lawsuits pile up, accusations of racism are flung round. And, internally, the two males in cost lock themselves right into a battle for whole management of the group. Earlier than lengthy, one in every of them is lifeless. At this level, Curse of the Chippendales turns into a full-on true crime documentary.

I’ll chorus from too many spoilers, though they’re all extensively accessible to anybody with an web connection, however the ultimate episode takes the type of a crushing, relentless police procedural as the authorities determine what has been happening behind the scenes. You may see why Immigrant was rushed to collection so shortly with supply materials like this. It is going to virtually definitely be a mix of GLOW and American Crime Story, and it has the potential to be excellent certainly.

Greater than something, although, Curse of the Chippendales is a neat reminder that the act wasn’t fairly as kitsch as you keep in mind. Look anyplace in 2021 – Love Island, Instagram, the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and also you’ll see that society has adopted the group’s aesthetic wholesale. The haircuts may need modified, however the our bodies – all tanned and muscular and hairless – have change into mainstream. Three a long time in the past the solely solution to expertise this type of obsessively honed male physique was to rock as much as a hen occasion the place a Magnum PI lookalike would jackhammer his crotch at you. Now even Ant-Man seems to be like a Chippendale. There’s a legacy if ever you noticed one.

Curse of the Chippendales is on Amazon Prime now; Welcome to Your Fantasy is accessible on all podcast platforms

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