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tv   Nightline  ABC  September 24, 2021 12:37am-1:07am PDT

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we ran out of time. "nightline" is next. thanks for watching. good night! this is "nightline." >> tonight, behind the bowties. the wildly successful all-male strip show chippendales. but offstage -- >> it was booze, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. >> how one man's greed led to murder. >> he said, i can't trust anoya, i think he's cheating me, i want him killed. >> the mers "me too." the woman who started the movement now speaking fully about herself. >> the most important person you have to say "me too" to is yourself. (vo) for over 50 years purina cat chow has been helping cats feel at home.
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good evening. for decades, chippendale's was the destination of choice for bachelorette stories and girls' night out. but a backstory is one of deceit and intrigue. here's my "nightline" coanchor juju chang. >> to describe chippendale's
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back then, it was booze, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. >> the september lating show for ladies only will sell out. ♪ >> reporter: it was one of the sexiest venues in history where men took it all off. >> they stripped gown to g-screens, women would wave dollar bills. >> take it off! >> reporter: and women take it all in. >> this is chippendale's where men perform exclusively for women on the dance floor. >> we love it, we're having a great time. >> it was the first time everywhere something was completely geared to the ladies. >> reporter: as women flocked to the clubs -- p>> from the outside we were a hugely successful, multimillion-dollar business. but the bigger we got, the more the problems piled up. >> reporter: little did they know behind the scenes, there was greed. >> everything about him was making money. >> reporter: jealousy, murder. >> a man has been shot in the head in my office. >> reporter: now the real story of what happened offstage is the subject of a new series from discovery plus.
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>> behind it all is one megalomaniac who's eliminating the competition through arson and murder for hire. >> reporter: curse of the chippendales. the documentary features former performer reid scott, once the target of a murder for hire, telling his story for the first time. >> what i went through, you'll never believe. >> reporter: it began in 1979 when the very first chippendales opened on the west side of l.a. >> the owner, steve bannergee,b, decided he was going to have a male strip tease. >> reporter: it was an overnight success for steve bannergee, an immigrant from mumbai, india. >> when you came to america, you wound up working as a service station attendant? >> yes. i didn't know nothing about cars. i never had my hands dirty before. >> the popularity, i think, was the first time that the equality door was kicked open for women
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to get the same kind of entertainment options that men have had for years. they could be rowdy, rude, vulgar even, like men. >> i think it's a great place for role reversal. >> the men are allowed to go wherever they want, why can't ladies? >> reporter: steve wanted to expand the show to new york, but he'd need help. that's when a former television producer walked through his door. >> one day i get to chippenda chippendales, knock on the door to steve's office, there's someone else in the room. steve says, richard, this is nick denoya, he's a producer, choreographer, he's won some awards, he's going to be producing the show. >> let's figure out what the women want, let's give it to them. >> he wanted the production value, the lighting, the sets, the choreography, the casting. he wanted all of this to be broadway caliber. >> the partnership between steve and nick became fruitful. that's how the clubs took off and they eventually opened a club in new york.
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>> reporter: with the expansion came club. denoya and bannergee argued over production and casting. >> they saw things differently. nick came from what's best for the production. steve came from what pretty boy is going to sell more calendars? i don't care if he can't dance. >> reporter: in the discovery series, ready scot recalls a time when bannergee thought he wasn't attractive enough for the role. >> one time steve made it clear, pretty much let me know, you are a very good performer, read, but you are not a looker. >> reporter: bannergee and denoya clashed over who was covered more in the press. bannergee decides to strike a deal with denoya. >> he said, i want you out, i want the business. you can take the road show, you can keep the door. that's yours, this is mine. >> he gave denoya the rights to tour chippendales, taking it on the road. eventually turned out to be the most lucrative part of the business. >> he didn't realize that until it was too late.
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>> reporter: the touring version becomes a success. playing to crowds of over 2,000 women at arenas, selling out seats 100% of the time. with nick on top once again, steve was driven mad. >> he said, i can't trust denoya, i think he's cheating me with all these tours that he's running, i want him killed. >> reporter: bannergee contacts a man, ray cologne, for help carrying out the attack. cologne hires gilberto rivera. the two travel to the chippendale's office in new york to carry out the murder. >> he walks in, rivera shoots him in the face. rivera exits. the assistant goes into the offices, sees denoya dead on the floor, calls 911. >> a man has been shot in the head in my office. >> is he conscious? >> no. oh my god. >> i was in rehearsal at chippendales. somebody said, did you hear? nick denoya has been murdered.
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and you kind of went -- >> it's very difficult to even say how i handled it. nothing in life prepares you to handle news like that. you know, it's still -- i mean, it's 34 years. but it still is acute. >> reporter: cologne and rivera evade police, and with nothing linking bannergee to the crime, it was business as usual at chippendales. >> the next thing you hear is, bannergee buys the road rights back from the denoya family for $1.3 million. you're kind of going -- that's a little odd. >> reporter: meanwhile, knock-off clubs start popping up. one of them actually started by some former chippendales dancers called adonis. they recruited read scot. >> they were directly competing with chippendales. what would you expect bannergee to do when he has competition? he wanted these people killed.
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>> reporter: july 1991, read is in england emgees for adonis when he gets called off the stage mid-performance. >> there are two gentlemen in suits. they introduce themselves as fbi. they said, we believe someone is out to get you. we have intercepted a call that there has been a contract put on your life. >> reporter: steve bannerjihad gone back to ray cologne. cologne hires a friend named strawberry to take the hit on the adonis employees. >> he gave them an eyedropper bottle full of cyanide, told them, it was you do, follow them into the men's room, hit them on the head with a hammer, inject them with cyanide. this person, strawberry, took this, flew over there, got cold feet. he comes back to the united states, he goes into our office, and that's how we get involved. >> reporter: after hearing arrest ray cologne and question
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him. >> cologne was down here. he had drawn this on a piece of paper, hey, i'm down here, the person you want is up here. >> reporter: that person, steve bannergee. the fbi devises a plan to use cologne to get to him. >> we're going to construct a ruse, we're going to take cologne out of the country, make believe that he has become a fugitive. once he gets overseas, he'll call bannergee. >> reporter: the two meet up in switzerland where cologne finally gets bannergee to talk freely. bannerjihad no idea the conversation was being recorded by the fbi. >> we hear, bannergee confessed to complicity in hiring ray cologne for the murder of denoya. they talk about the attempted murders of read scot and other dancers. we were able to get the evidence we needed. >> reporter: september 1993, bannerjee is arrested. he pleads guilty to racketeering, which included arranging denoya's murder.
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the day before sentencing, something shocking happens. >> we were on the courthouse steps when somebody came out and said, there will be no sentencing, bannerjee committed suicide last night. i felt robbed of the satisfaction of seeing steve brought in in chains and brought to justice for what he had done. >> he didn't get the punishment he deserved. he didn't serve the time for nick de noia, destroying lives. he got out easy, he was a coward. >> reporter: despite the shadow cast by his dark chapter, the legacy of chippendales prevails. >> there was a lot more history there, ten years of history, ten years of success. >> i think the success of chippendales triumphs no matter what. the patina of success that chippendales has i think is pretty unblemished. >> our thanks to juju.
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"curse of the chippendales" begins streaming september 24th on discovery plus. up next, the woman who triumphed over her own pain and started a movement. coming up friday on "nightline," juju chang's exclusive interview with south korea's president and the mega-famous band bts. >> you're watching "nightline"! people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes are waking up to what's possible with rybelsus®.
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♪ and an advocate. is a survivor - the woman who started the "me too" movement long before it was a hashtag is now fully telling
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her story. here again is my "nightline" coanchor juju chang. >> if you are ready, let me hear you say me too! >> me too! >> i told my story in sound bites and in little pieces. >> hey, hey, ho ho! >> i've never been able to tell my story. >> reporter: tarana burke is the creator of a movement that shifted the world with two small words. "me too." >> sexism has got to go! >> "me too" is initially about survivors finding each other, seeing each other, building community with each other, saying, i see you, i hear you, i am you. >> reporter: "me too" originated in 2006 to help heal sexual assault survivors in underserved communities. it took off in a viral firestorm more than a decade later. a rallying cry for women and men fed up with blatant abuse of
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power and sexual harassment. "if you've been sexually harassed or assaulted, write "me too" as a reply to this tweet." it's a blake burke remembers vividly. >> i'm a black woman from the bronx in my 40s. i thought, nobody's going to believe that i have been doing this work for a long time, under this name, for the same reason. >> started seeing the emotional responses women were having? >> yeah. >> you realized it was working on some level? >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: in her new autobiography "unbound," the community organizer tells the story of her own sexual assault. raw and unfiltered. tell me about the 7-year-old tarana. >> 7-year-old tarana was, like most 7-year-olds, happy, joyous, playful. and then this person came and took that from me and chose me, for whatever reason, to inflict this violence upon. and i felt complicit in that violence. i didn't feel like a victim, i
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felt like somebody who had done something wrong. >> reporter: tarana kept the abuse secret for years. the aftermath of that trauma eating away at her spirit. >> those years of silence really restricted me. it made me feel like i did not have a voice that was big enough or strong enough or important enough to put out in the world. >> reporter: it became increasingly clear to tarana that sexual misconduct is pervasive in all corners of society. in 2019, we spoke to single mom kristin sellers who told us she'd been sexually harassed by her housing inspector, a man who had the power to evict her. she found the strength to speak out by filing a lawsuit. >> we give them power when we be quiet. that's what i've learned. and through this whole ordeal. >> reporter: sellers' case settled for $2.7 million. her alleged abuser denied all claims. but it was the avalanche of bombshell allegations in
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tinseltown that would come to absorb the "me too" spotlight. >> now to the abc news exclusive, ashley judd telling her story. >> reporter: dozens of a-list actresses began breaking their silence as well, revealing the toxic and unsafe underbelly of hollywood. most infamously, the exploits of disgraced movie mogul, now convicted sex offender, harvey weinstein. >> it's a continuation of an ongoing structural problem. when "me too" went viral and the focus was on women in hollywood. for women of color, particularly black women, who have such high, high rates of sexual violence, indigenous women who have such high, high rates of sexual violence -- the problem is not getting any better. >> reporter: the impact of those initial outcries and the investigations they sparked still reverberating in present day. >> as you probably know, i'm stepping aside as your governor. >> in the cuomo case, i try to get people to focus not on just
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the resignation, but on the investigation and on the disclosure, right? linsey boylan having the courage to talk about it is the progress. tish james investigating is the progress. i am just astonished that we are at this place in such a short period of time. >> reporter: cuomo has denied all sexual harassment allegations against him. over the years, tarana's fought relentlessly on behalf of fellow survivors. but it's her own story of struggles and triumphs that's front and center today. a single mom at 24, tarana's relationship with her own mother was fraught. but her mom made all the difference in a crucial moment. this is how tarana describes seeing her rapist for the first time in 30 years while with her mother. >> she asked me if i was all right, i told her that i was shook up. maybe he just didn't recognize me because he hasn't seen me since i was a very little girl,
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i said. no, he didn't recognize you because you turned out to be a smart, beautiful, accomplished woman despite him trying to take that from you. >> got me crying at my own book. emotional to think about it. it was exactly what i needed in the right time. and i was so grateful. we never stop needing our mothers. she is such a big part of me being unbound. she's a big part of my liberation. >> reporter: in healing her own mother/daughter relationship, the 48-year-old breaking the cycle with her own daughter who's currently blazing their own trail of activism. >> they demand to have the kind of joy and freedom and just -- i don't know, a liberated life in ways that i didn't know to demand at that age.
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>> reporter: kaia, who identifies as nonbinary, also a survivor of sexual abuse. >> it was devastating. but i also felt uniquely qualified to stand up for my baby. >> what was it, do you think that finally allowed you to have the courage to say, me too? >> an understanding that came from inside of myself, but also really from god, right? the universe. i tell people all the time, the most important person you have to say "me too" to is yourself. >> our thanks again to juju. up next, the boy who asked for a very special birthday present.
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♪ finally tonight, gave vin roberts turned 12 this week. there was only one thing he wanted for his birthday. he asked for the covid vaccine. on the day he became eligible, not one day more. you see, gavin's father, rob, a glen ridge, new jersey, police officer, died of covid in april of 2020, before there was a
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vaccine. gavin said his dad went to all his hockey games, he was his baseball coach, and his best friend. gavin said getting the vaccine is what his dad would have done, if he had the chance. that's "nightline" for this evening. catch our full episodes on hulu. we'll see you right back here same time tomorrow. thanks for the company, america. good night.


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