Welcome to Chippendales (2023) is an eight-episode limited series about the origin story of Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the Indian-American entrepreneur who started the stripper troupe Chippendales.
Here’s the premise: An Indian immigrant becomes the unlikely founder of a male revue that becomes a cultural phenomenon.
As is the case whenever you see the words, “based on a true story” or “inspired by actual events,” Welcome to Chippendales uses creative license to enhance the fictionalized drama.
We heard part of the true Chippendale’s story when retired agent Scott Garriola reviewed the case on FBI Retired Case File Review. Episode 232: Chippendales, Murder-For-Hire
My review of the TV series focuses on episodes 7 and 8, which feature the FBI investigation of Banerjee. During these episodes, an actor plays the role of Scott Garriola using his real name.
So I called Scott and asked him what he thought of the show. He told me, “I haven’t watched it and don’t plan to.”
Scott, who serves as a technical consultant on some of the biggest FBI shows on TV, had absolutely no input or involvement in the making of Welcome to Chippendales.
But he agreed anyway to help me with teachable moments regarding FBI policy and procedures.
In the first scene in episode 7, where “he” shows up on the screen, Scott’s in the squad area interviewing Banerjee at his desk. However, the Scott in real life advised that neither he nor his partner ever interviewed Banerjee about the murder-for-hire plot. I was more concerned that they showed a subject sitting within the inner sanctum of the field office.
That’s what interview rooms are for. In real life, for security and privacy reasons, only authorized personnel go back to the squad area.
Later in episode 8, the series has Scott traveling to Switzerland with his informant to secretly record Banerjee making incriminating statements. This happened, but it took a lot of planning to pull it off. I asked Scott IRL to explain.
“It wasn’t just a matter of us flying to Switzerland with our equipment. Initially, Banerjee and the informant were to meet up in Italy.”
For the FBI to surreptitiously record someone in a foreign country, the FBI’s Legal Attaché office in that country must first contact their law enforcement counterparts and the US Ambassador for approval. We can’t just show up.
“The Legat worked with the Italian police. Through the State Department, we were able to get the informant a fake passport. It took about six months to arrange all the details. However, once we arrived in Italy, we learned from Banerjee that because he was not a US citizen, he has to apply for a visa to enter Italy.”
“That’s how we ended up in Switzerland. He didn’t need one to go there.”
“The Swiss were great. A technically trained agent had come over with us, but the Zurich police laughed when they saw our equipment. They used their own, and the audio was studio quality. DOJ made a mutual legal assistance treaty or MLAT request so we could use the recordings as evidence in the US court system.”
I fully understand why the writers for the series skipped all those extra details. But to show you how the FBI really works, I’m happy Scott broke it down for us.
By the way, I enjoyed the show and recommend you watch it, but only if you listen to Scott’s case review first, so you’ll know the facts.
Welcome to Chippendales is currently streaming on Hulu. Watch the official trailer here.