Actress Jennifer Lopez’s attempt to glorify a group of real-life strippers who hoodwinked, lied to, stole from and drugged wealthy Wall Street-affiliated men for their money has kind of backfired.
Released in theaters earlier this month, the film “Hustlers” is based on a report published by “The Cut” four years ago about actual strippers in the New York area who’d proudly spoken of conning “pathetic” Wall Street men, particularly the ones who’d fallen in love with them.
The film is designed to portray the women as veritable Robin Hoods who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Except that in reality, the women gave to nobody but themselves.
Watch a trailer of the film below (*Graphic warning):
Despite the film portraying these otherwise criminal, immoral women in a positive light, the actual strippers themselves don’t appear to be happy about the movie.
Take stripper Samantha Barbash, who’s played in the film by Lopez.
“JLo betrayed me,” the 45-year-old whined to TMZ, referring to Lopez’s nickname. “She didn’t even reach out to the woman that she portrayed. I think that’s a little … degrading as an actress.”
Some would argue that using one’s body to fool, drug and rob innocent men is degrading.
So what exactly is her beef with Lopez? For one, she claims that the film’s a theft of her life story.
“They pretty much basically stole my story,” she said. “I wouldn’t sign my rights away. I wasn’t giving up my TV and film rights for peanuts. JLo doesn’t work for free, why should I? I’m a businesswoman.”
While she may be a businesswoman now, the profile of her and her peers run by The Cut four years ago makes it clear that she’s a criminal at heart.
In the profile, one stripper, Roselyn Keo, spoke of outright drugging men for their money.
“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,” the profile reads. “Then they would proceed to run up his credit card as far as they could push it.”
“Of course, it didn’t always work,” the report continued. “Sometimes they’d go through the whole performance and the guy would be too tired to go out; they would offer him drugs for extra energy, but he would be too lame to take them. In the face of such situations, [one stripper named] Samantha had come up with the innovation that was making her rich: a special drink spiked with MDMA and ketamine.”
“It sounds so bad to say that we were, like, drugging people,” one stripper said to the outlet. “But it was, like, normal.”
No, it’s not normal …
Listen to Barbash’s complaints below:
In her interview Wednesday with TMZ, Barbash did admit though that the producer of “Hustlers” had tried to reach out to her with an offer to buy her story.
“The producer hit up my lawyer,” she said. “But it was a joke. I don’t even want to embarrass them of what they’d thought – put this way, I have Hermes bags that cost more than what they wanted to give me.”
It’s unclear how exactly she earned the money for “Hermes bags,” though her history suggests some sort of criminality may have been involved.
Dovetailing back to Lopez, Barbash claimed that she’d defamed her “character” …
“She basically defamed my character,” she said. “As a mother, there’s a part that she’s cooking drugs in a stove with her daughter there.”
“First of all, it’s just not an accurate movie. Without JLo, they wouldn’t even have a movie, to be honest. There is no storyline. It’s just Jennifer. People are going to see the movie because JLo’s in a stripper pole… I’ve never been in a stripper pole like that in my life.”
“If you’re portraying my part, me the ringleader… then you should have actually met the person you’re portraying to study my mannerism,” she added. “My mannerism wasn’t like the way she played. Yes, I’m a boss and a leader but that’s about it. I’m not cold-hearted.”
“Samantha, born Samantha Barbash, was one of Hustler’s top moneymakers,” The Cut’s original report reads. “A single mother from the Bronx, she’d started dancing at 19, and, like an ornamental plant purposefully stunted to conform to a certain ideal, she’d been shaped by the industry in which she grew up.”
“Her body was Jessica Rabbit curvy, her lips Angelina Jolie puffy; her hair, which concealed tattoos of a cascade of stars running down her neck, was Cleopatra black. Buried within this ultrafeminine package was a mercenary streak worthy of Gordon Gekko.”
Moreover, the piece makes it clear that it was Barbash, stripper name Samantha Foxx, who’d taught the other strippers how to hustle men — and how to drug them as well.
“Of course, it didn’t always work,” the piece continues. “Sometimes they’d go through the whole performance and the guy would be too tired to go out; they would offer him drugs for extra energy, but he would be too lame to take them. In the face of such situations, Samantha had come up with the innovation that was making her rich: a special drink spiked with MDMA and ketamine.”
These are the facts.
POST-HUSTLERS VIEWING, IT IS REQUIRED THAT YOU RE-READ THE ORIGIN STORY https://t.co/pRLzck74bo
— LW (@lindseyweber) September 14, 2019
As troubling as the facts about Samantha happen to be, the argument could be made that Hollywood’s decision to glamorize her arguably nefarious and outright evil actions is even more troubling. Not only is it a sign of Hollywood’s decay, but it’s equally a sign of how far society has fallen.
Proof? Just look at how much praise the film and its “heroines” are receiving:
@HustlersMovie was the super hero flick I needed to see! pic.twitter.com/CvnA4rIhAv
— Dr. Vanessa M Holden (@drvholden) September 19, 2019
J Lo on the pole may not be the hero we deserve, but she’s absolutely the one we need. #hustlers pic.twitter.com/E9eQ3A87KI
— Kelly Ann Parker (KP) ??♀️ (@elle_parks) September 14, 2019
#Review: ‘Hustlers’: How strippers became the unexpected heroes of the 2008 Wall Street crash#culture #film #WallSt. #sexworkers https://t.co/3ALEpoTJUq
— PeoplesWorld (@PeoplesWorld) September 13, 2019
Thought of this quote from @jiatolentino’s Pure Heroine essay after seeing Hustlers tonight: “… our culture has configured women’s liberty as corrosion, and for a long time, there was no way for a woman to be both free and good.” pic.twitter.com/7wNrl8Idmj
— phoebe waller bridge fan acc (@iris_hyon) September 13, 2019
Apparently, hustling men makes one a superhero. Who knew?
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