The new film Hustlers opens this weekend and features the electrifying, all-star line-up of Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B, and Lizzo. It’s one of those movies filled with so much star power, you’re almost magnetically drawn to it. Really, who doesn’t want to see Lizzo take on a bunch of fat cat bad guys?
The satisfying girl-revenge heist flick is based on a true story about strippers hustling, as the title states, and opens in theaters Sept. 13.
What Hustlers is about?
Hustlers has an Erin Brockovich feel. You think it’s a sensationalistic, titillating movie about pole dancing, lap dances, and the strip club business in general and it is but it also focuses on much more than that.
Inspired by the real story of the hardworking women who make their money in the harsh world of gentlemen’s clubs, it’s about these women attempting to take back their dignity and confront wrongdoing. Their method for doing so was not entirely legal, but they achieved the goal of drawing attention to the imbalance of power between exotic dancers and their audience.
Lopez wasn’t sure she was prepared for the physicality and raw emotions of the role.
“I was terrified, I felt exposed. I was like, ‘I’ve never done anything like this. I’m going to be up there in f**king dental floss,” she confessed to Variety. “What is this? Who is this person?’ And then you get up there, and you have to have a ‘f**k you,’ empowered attitude…And these women have that. They are tough, hard, vulnerable and damaged. It’s a great character to play.”
Constance Wu agrees this is a feminist film, a basic human story about life at its most desperate, but also at its most empowering.
She told NPR: “I think the deeper meaning of how (her character) ends up in this job is that I think growing up, she and a lot of American girls are taught that their value and worth lies in their physical beauty and their sexuality.
“And then it’s funny, because then when you exploit that value system to try to get by, to pay your rent, then you’re shamed for it. I mean, you think of what a stripper does: They’re using their bodies for entertainment. It’s exactly what an athlete does. But we more harshly judge one and shame one than the other.”
Where are the women who inspired the film today?
The women behind Hustlers are Roselyn Keo (played by Constance Wu) and Samantha Barbash (portrayed by Jennifer Lopez). The women’s actual names are changed in the movie.
Their story is based on Jessica Pressler’s 2016 magazine article in The Cut, “The Hustlers at Scores.” It described the story of two resourceful gentlemen’s club dancers — Keo and Barbash, assisted by Karina Pascucci and Marsi Rosen — who began “hustling” and swindled their affluent clients.
So where are they now?
Roselyn Keo took a plea deal in 2014, telling Pressler at the time, “I thought about it, and I’m, like, the only one of those girls that’s normal, with a brain on my head, with a child and a future.”
She admitted to grand larceny and attempted assault in exchange for no jail time and received five years’ probation instead. Today, she is raising her daughter, thrilled about the film, and has written a book called, The Sophisticated Hustler.
Samantha Barbash pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny and received five years probation.
“They’re going off a false story. I was not a stripper. Everything—where [J-Lo] is going on poles and stuff–that’s not me,” she told The New York Post. “It’s my story she’s making money off of. If she wants to play me, then she should have gotten the real story … They should have worked with me instead of against me.”
Barbash is exploring legal action. She has also written a book called Underscore and runs a spa.
As for Pascucci and Rosen, both were sentenced to weekend jail time at Rikers Island for four months.
JLo’s Big Shot at an Oscar
All critical acclaim and talk of Oscar buzz has JLo stunned.
“You work hard your whole life, and you wonder if anybody notices, in a sense, on that level, to be in that conversation,” she told Hoda Kotb in a recent SiriusXM radio interview. “You have dreams when you’re a little girl of being there [at the Oscars], you know what I mean?”
She also opened up to The Los Angeles Times, saying “Obviously I’m flattered. I’ve done so many movies and I’ve done so many roles that I’ve learned to not do it for anything except because I love doing it.
“Every movie that I sign on to and every role that I choose to play is really about me exploring and really being an artist, being an actor, loving life, loving people, and doing that thing. Having the opportunity to do that with my life is such a pleasure for me. I’ve learned that I don’t really look at anything else. So when something like [Oscar buzz] happens…you’re just like, ‘Wow.’”
This has already an amazing year for Lopez with her engagement to fiancé Alex Rodriguez. An Oscar would be an amazing recognition to add to her amazing career.
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