"I just want to take care of my grandma," a character played by Constance Wu says plaintively in the trailer for the upcoming film Hustlers. "Maybe go shopping every once in awhile."
In many films, this would be what the main character says before pulling a Cinderella and quietly working non-stop to achieve their dream job at their bestselling print fashion magazine or mini cupcake bakery. Not so in this case. As the movie trailer shows, Wu, a stripper, turns to a Robin Hood-style of crime, fleecing the slimy Wall Street bankers she dances for with the help of fellow strippers played by Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Lizzo, and Lili Reinhart. They gleefully pop champagne and buy luxe goods with their newfound cash infusion — but authorities soon catch up with them.
It might sound far-fetched, but it's actually based on the New York Magazine article "The Hustlers at Scores," written by Jessica Pressler. The article details how two New York City strippers, Roslyn Keo and Samantha Barbash, came up with a new scheme to get money after the Wall Street crash in 2008 led to plenty of strip club clientele losing their jobs — and their ability to pay for dancers. Keo and Barbash started luring men in, drugging their drinks, and stealing hundreds of thousands from them with the help of other strippers and prostitutes.
The women lived large for awhile, especially because, as Lopez's character (seemingly based on Barbash) snarks in the trailer after being asked what would happen if police are called, "And says what? 'I spent $5,000 in a strip club, send help!'" The men were mostly all embarrassed by what had happened to them, and those who were willing to swallow their pride and report it weren't taken seriously, so it took time for authorities to catch on.
The women were eventually caught: Barbash pled guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny in exchange for five years probation in April 2017, Keo pled guilty to grand lareceny and attempted assault in exchange for no jail time in March 2016, and two other women heavily involved in the operation, Karina Pascucci and Marsi Rosen, to weekends in jail for four months and five years’ probation in January 2016 after similarly pleading guilty, according to The New York Post.
"Hustlers," directed and scripted by Lorene Scafaria, comes out on September 13, 2019. Watch the trailer, below.
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