Revenge, drugs and strippers: The wild, true story behind JLo's upcoming film, Hustlers.

Hustlers is a movie about a group of women who work at strip clubs, and decide to defraud their Wall Street clients by partying so hard, they don’t realise their credit cards have been taken. The men are too embarrassed to report where and how they were robbed, so the women get away with the scheme for some time, spending up big on cars and clothes, and loving every second of it.

Well. That’s our next girls’ movie night sorted.

If a tale of revenge, corruption, greed and moral bankruptcy isn’t enough, the icing on the cake is that the film stars the likes of J-Lo, Constance Wu, Lizzo and Cardi B… in platform stilettos and a lot of lycra.

Oh, and by the way: Hustlers is based on a true story.

Watch the trailer for the film Hustlers below. Post continues after video.

In 2008, New Yorkers Samantha Barbash, Roselyn Keo, Karina Pascucci, and Marsi Rosen were the real life ‘hustlers’.

Keo told their story to The Cut in 2015, and Hustlers is based on her candid revelations.

She described her clientele as ultra-wealthy, often married, and often inappropriate (by asking for sexual favours). Keo says it made it that much easier to not feel bad about how the group treated them.

“It sounds so bad to say that we were, like, drugging people,” she said of adding the drugs MDMA (an upper) or Ketamine (which affected their memory) to the mens’ drinks to make them softer targets.

But it was, “just a sprinkle. Like a pinch of salt.”

Keo, who had moved to Manhattan to make money from clubs, eventually met Barbash, who was also known as Samantha Foxx, an ‘icon’ on the scene.

Being a little older (in her 30s) and experienced, Barbash knew everyone, and all the men wanted to party with her.

It was also just after the 2008 stock market crash, and a lot of men were drowning their sorrows in clubs – and debauchery.

Keo describes the scheme as almost too easy.

High on life, alcohol, and drugs, the men would party with the women into the night. It made them easy to manipulate into spending thousands at the club, and then, using the credit card details, the women would then help themselves to whatever else they wanted.

“I was on the phone with American Express half the time verifying his last four digits of Social, his mother’s maiden name, his last purchases, and their name, and their location, and how much was being charged,” Keo recalls, adding the men answered those questions without a second thought.


So how did they get away with it for as long as they did?


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Well, it was a house of cards, based on lies.

Some of the men would later see the credit card charges and confront Barbash, who would tell them they simply had no memory of their consent. Others would be too embarrassed to say anything, especially reporting the transactions as fraudulent.

Many of them had wives, so they just paid the bills and left the matter.

The ‘hustlers’, on the other hand, did not have wealthy husbands.

They were significantly financially worse off than the Wall Street men, so naturally, they enjoyed purchasing luxury items such as cars, designer bags and clothing.

But the scheme also presented them with a moral dilemma.

“I would say to myself, ‘I’m going to make 100 grand and leave’,” Keo told The Cut.

“I’d make 100 grand, then, ‘I’m going to make another hundred grand. I’m going to get to half a million and leave. No, now I want to make a million and leave.’

“It was just never enough.”

But eventually, it was. Keo said that one night, a man they had drugged received a concussion, and they later discovered another of their victims, from whom they had stolen $17 000, had an autistic son he needed to support.


The experience essentially put a human face to the credit cards, and Keo began to wrestle with her guilt.

Hustlers movie true story
Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez play real life former-strippers, Roselyn Keo and Samantha Barbash. Image: STXfilms.

Barbash and Keo also eventually began to tire of their scheme, which by that stage had involved the management of prostitutes to offer the men.

And then finally, the fragile house of cards came tumbling down.

In 2014, cardiologist Zyad Younan told the The New York Post he’d been robbed of $135 000 after being drugged. After that, a group of victims also came forward. The women were arrested and charged, but Barbash wanted to go down fighting.

“What about the things the guys did?” she furiously asked.

Keo tried to convince her the jig was up, but Barbash proclaimed her innocence. Eventually the former friends would accuse each other of being the ringleader.

Barbash received five years’ probation after pleading guilty. Keo did the same, and also avoided jail.

Keo is now a mum, writing about her former life, and excited about the movie.

Barbash, who now runs a spa, remains defiant, and upset at her portrayal by Lopez.

“I was not a stripper," she told The New York Post.

“This is a living nightmare.

“So now I’m going to have to do a lawsuit. I’m getting a gag order.”

Looks like the wild ride isn’t over just yet.

Hustlers, starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez, is being released in Australian cinemas on October 10.

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