Chippendales: An (Almost) Naked Phenomenon
In 2019, the group was 40 years old, and was filmed for the cinema by Hollywood legend Ridley Scott. Chippendales, the most successful male striptease group in the world. Celebrated as an emancipatory symbol of freedom, frowned upon as clichéd. How has this controversial pop-culture act thrived for four decades, and what does it tell us about the Zeitgeist, the cult of the body, and gender relations? The film focuses first on the male dance troupe as a phenomenon of pop culture and its mercurial reception over the past 40 years, and secondly narrates the almost unbelievable story of its founding and development. These events add up to a genuine crime thriller. It all began in India, with Chippendales founder Somen Banerjee, who left his homeland in the late 1960s and traveled to California, already a liberal and sexually open-minded state. In 1975, he bought a dilapidated rock 'n roll club together with the attorney Bruce Nahin. With "Chippendales," a "male exotic dance night for ladies only," Banerjee carved out a market niche. The show's history progressed like a (bad) movie. Confrontations with business partners, an unsolved murder, choreographers defecting to the competition – and yet another murder. The founder of Chippendales wound up in prison and hung himself in his cell. Yet Chippendales survives up to the present. It endured the movement for the emancipation of women, the metrosexual male, charges of sexism, and is more successful than ever before. Today, there is no taboo against playing loose with gender roles. In the context of the "me too" movement, the naked men on the stage have danced their way once again into the center of social debate. They are a genuine pop phenomenon, and never seem to go out of fashion.