Jennifer Lopez's Hustlers hits theaters on Friday

By Alexia Fernandez
September 13, 2019 10:40 AM
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Jennifer Lopez is earning rave reviews for her performance in Hustlers — but the real-life story behind the acclaimed movie about strippers getting back at their Wall Street clients isn’t so bright.

The movie, inspired by Jessica Pressler’s 2015 New York Magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores,” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday and is now playing in theaters.

The film also stars Constance Wu, Cardi B, Lizzo, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart and Julia Stiles. Lopez, 50, shines as Ramona, the owner of a successful strip club who cooks up a way of getting even richer.

Here’s everything to know about Hustlers.

What the Film’s About

The story follows Wu’s Destiny, who finds herself down on her luck and in need of money so she can care for herself and her aging grandparents.

Destiny inevitably meets Ramona, who teaches Destiny the ropes of stripping and dancing on a pole while also aiming to get the upper hand on her Wall Street clients with the help of her crew.

Stiles, 38, plays a character inspired by Pressler, the journalist who wrote about the real-life strippers that inspired the film, while Lizzo, Cardi B, Palmer, and Reinhart form the crew that helps Ramona in her scheme.

Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, and Constance Wu star in Hustlers

The True Story Behind the Film

Roselyn “Rosie” Keo and Samantha Barbash were the focus of Pressler’s article. Lorene Scafaria, the director of the film, changed their names in the film to Destiny (Rosie’s counterpart) and Ramona (Samantha’s counterpart).

Rosie and Samantha met at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in New York City in 2007. Rosie, who was studying at Berkeley College in New Jersey at the time, took a break from stripping when she became pregnant with her daughter, but later returned when she needed a way to make ends meet.

When the 2008 recession hit, Rosie found the strip club industry had changed drastically with strippers offering sexual services for money instead of just dancing on the pole.

Despite the downturn in money a the clubs, Rosie observed that Samantha had not only stopped stripping but also found a way to continue making money at the strip club.

Samantha’s plan? Fishing for wealthy clients from her lengthy Rolodex and inviting them to the strip club with the promise of good looking girls.

“They’d wine and dine him, then the others would show up, and then, when he was drunk on alcohol and feminine attention, they’d steer him toward one of the clubs from which they had negotiated a lucrative percentage of his spending,” Pressler wrote. “Then they would proceed to run up his credit card as far as they could push it.”

Rosie told Pressler they would occasionally “sprinkle” MDMA and ketamine in a client’s drink if he didn’t seem up to the task of going to a strip club.

“It sounds so bad to say that we were, like, drugging people,” Rosie said at the time. “But it was, like, normal. What’s an extra $20,000 to them?”

She continued, “It wasn’t like we pulled them off the street. They had history. They’d been to Hustler, they’d been to Rick’s, they’d been to Scores. They all walked in ready to party. And yeah, we slipped an extra one that they didn’t know about. But all of it goes hand in hand — sex, drugs, and rock and roll. You know?”

Where the Women Are Now

Their scheme came tumbling down when they, along with exotic dancers Karina Pascucci and Marsi Rosen and RoadHouse manager Carmine Vitolo, were indicted.

Samantha and Rosie were charged with two counts of conspiracy, four counts of grand larceny, two counts of assault and three counts of forgery, according to TIME. Both were sentenced to five years probation.

Karina was charged with two counts of conspiracy, four counts and grand larceny and one count of forgery while Marsi was charged with two counts of conspiracy, three counts of grand larceny, one count of assault and two of forgery, the magazine reported. They were sentenced to four months of weekends in jail and five years of probation.

Since then, the women have moved on. Rosie has written a book on the experienced called The Sophisticated Hustler and joined the cast of the film at TIFF, where she posed for photographs.

Samantha, like Rosie, has also written a book called Underscore which is set to hit shelves later this month. Samantha also owns a spa.

Hustlers is now playing.