Is Otis from Welcome to Chippendales a real person? +2023

Welcome to Chippendales - Four Geniuses - Episode 102 - When Chippendales takes off, Steve assembles his dream team - including a shy accountant who might be more than just a clerk.  Steve (Kumail Nanjiani) and Otis (Quentin Plair), pictured.  (Photo by: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

In the first four episodes of Welcome to Chippendales, the titular club owned by Steve Banerjee (Kumail Nanjiani) has only one black dancer: Otis, played by Quentin Plair. The show sees him dealing with racism from customers and Steve himself while trying to make a living in 1980s Los Angeles. His troubles working at Chippendales come to a head in episode three, which premiered November 29 on Hulu.

Before that, we break down the character and the true stories that inspired him.

Was Otis the Chippendales Dancer a Real Person?

It doesn’t appear that there was an actual Chippendales dancer named Otis. Instead, the character’s story in “Welcome to Chippendales” appears to be based on the stories of real Chippendales dancers, particularly one very special one: Hodari Sababu – who, according to him, was the only black dancer in Chippendales.

In March 2021, Sababu spoke Pineapple Street’s Welcome to Your Fantasy Podcast about his experiences at the club, where he also answered phones and filed paperwork. Sababu was a dancer in the mid-’80s, and like the fictional Otis, he spent time in Steve’s office learning how to run a business. “I was in college and all that, and I had other ambitions,” Sababu explained on the podcast. “You know, I’ve gone a lot [to Steve’s office] Just hanging out during the day because I had nothing else to do. And you know, we talked and he liked me. So he said, ‘Listen, just hang around and I’ll show you how to negotiate deals. I’ll show you the business side.'”

In real life, Sababu took the lessons he learned from Steve and applied them to open an all-black strip club called “Lady Killers,” but before that, like Otis, he also dealt with racism. “It was a point of contention because Banerjee felt like he didn’t want more than one black guy in the club,” Sababu shared on the Welcome to Your Fantasy podcast. He said Steve told him he wanted a “posh” club that catered to white women, so they couldn’t have more than one black employee. Subabu also noted that white women would pay him to have sex with them after the show.

Also, Subabu said he was kicked out of the famous Chippendales calendars. “I couldn’t get on the calendar. The Chippendales calendar, which was the largest calendar in the world. His, Steve’s thought was, ‘Well, I can’t sell calendars down south if they can find a black guy on the walls for 30 days. A white woman has a black man on the wall. I can’t put black people on my calendar,” he explained. “I did everything else. I made greeting cards, I made the air fresheners, I made that. But I couldn’t do the calendar.”

Sababu’s other real-life events are also similar to the story of Otis in Welcome to Chippendales. On the podcast, Sababu recalled a time Steve called a local church to warn them about Chippendales so they would picket outside and drum up the press for the club. This moment is dramatized in the series while Otis looks on.

Welcome to Chippendales is releasing new episodes Tuesdays on Hulu.

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