Chippendales Producer Reveals the Celebs That Went to the Club (Exclusive)

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Jay Schwartz, a producer of the famous Chippendales club in New York during its heyday, says there would be no Magic Mike if not for the burlesque club he helped run in the 1980s that happened to also attract tons of A-list celebrities.

Schwartz spoke with ET's Kevin Frazier and he described the club's atmosphere when it first opened. He also dished on the long list of celebrities the club attracted. The hype was real, Schwartz said, while adding that the intrigue started out of curiosity.

"We had every major news crew in that club to interview," says Schwartz, who is featured in A&E's four-part documentary Secrets of the Chippendales Murders. "Everybody wanted to know what it was, what -- is it sleazy? -- and it turned out not to be. It was a real show."

Soon, celebrities followed.

"Oh, John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone came into the club to cast the [1985] film, Perfect," Schwartz recalls. "Brooke Shields. We had a night for just the women of Broadway. We had just a night for the women of daytime soaps in New York. A lot of people would show up."

At its height, Chippendales came at a time when social media and cell phones were nonexistent, meaning celebrities didn't need to worry about being captured on cell phone footage. Schwartz said they were active participants much like others in attendance to watch the show.

"No, they got into it just like everybody else," Schwartz notes. "We were a brotherhood in this club, so now I understand when people say -- some of my clients would say 'We didn't know what was going on because we were in the middle of it' -- that's what this is like. We're in the middle of this. We're having a party. We're having a grand ole time, so whatever is going on outside is not affecting us, so the people that worked in the club, we were just -- I loved it. I had a really good time there."

Chippendales was a worldwide phenomenon, quickly building a reputation where one could show up at 6 p.m. when the doors opened and women were encouraged to let loose.

"All these women that would come into the club with no inhibitions because there were no men allowed in the club," says Schwartz, who did a lot of the hiring and firing in his role as producer of the show. "When a woman walked in the door, the guys were instructed 'Whomever you're speaking to, she's the one that you're speaking to. Your eyes don't wander, you don't look at anybody else. You make her feel like she is the queen.' So it didn't matter what your ethnicity was. It didn't matter what you looked like. You were a queen when these guys were talking to you."

Schwartz also touched on the celebrities over the years who became Chippendale dancers, like Ian Ziering, Joey Lawrence and Tyson Beckford and Jersey Shore star Vinny Guadagnino.

"The people that are doing the show, good for them," Schwartz says. "I really do think good for them, all these guys. Ian got in great shape. It's all good, you know, but I'm skewed to the original club."

Schwartz is adamant that, without the Chippendales, there would be no Channing Tatum in 2012's Magic Mike and his 2015 sequel. That being said, Schwartz said he enjoyed Tatum's films.

"I went to see the movie originally and I thought it was a good movie because it put a spotlight on it," Schwartz said. "I wish it would’ve had more detail of what happened in the club but I guess I’m glad they didn’t because I still want to have that for my television show if I sell it or when I sell it. So, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, HBO call me to make this show."

The A&E documentary also explores the mob's influence on the club and the murders connected to the Chippendales club, including Schwartz's boss.

"Look, my boss, who was murdered, he was a mix of Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin," Schwartz says. "That's the type of human being he was. He was one of Jennifer O'Neil's eight husbands, he was in the closet, and he was an egomaniac, so he wasn't very well liked by a lot of people."

"The good thing from him was that he had a creative vision," he continues. "He knew he was never going to be a Broadway director. This was the closest he was going to get to it so he wanted the show to have those elements. Backup dancers, costumes, music, choreography, lighting. That is what made the show. It was him who said 'This show -- I want you guys to be more like Gypsy Rose Lee. It's about burlesque. It's not about taking your clothes off and seeing what you've got. It's about you thinking about what's beneath the clothes. It's the whole foreplay.'"

Schwartz also shared his thoughts on the Chippendales show that's conquered Vegas.

"Look, the guy who owns Chippendales now is the grandson of one of the owners of these New York owners that I was talking about, and I love this man," Schwartz says. "And his grandson owns the club now and has the show in Vegas. I think Chippendales today has a very different connotation. It's not what it was. You can't do the kiss and tip. I mean, you cant do it now because of the pandemic but you can't touch people in Vegas. In New York, everybody’s holding up dollar bills and making out with people. You can't [anymore], so it doesn’t have the same cache."

Secrets of the Chippendales Murders airs Mondays on A&E.


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