Former hostess who inspired 'Hustlers' threatens to sue filmmakers

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer and Constance Wu in Hustlers (Credit: STX)

The former strip club hostess who is the inspiration for Jennifer Lopez's character in new movie Hustlers is threatening to sue filmmakers saying they haven't compensated her to use her life story.

Samantha Barbash says that she will file a lawsuit against STX Entertainment, the movie’s producers, if they do not settle with her in the next 10 days.

Her lawyer Bruno Gioffre called not paying his client for her story 'a flagrant violation of her rights'.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for STX told Variety: “We will defend our right to tell factually based stories based on the public record and look forward to resolving this matter before a judge.”

Barbash was the subject of an article in New York magazine, which lifted the lid on a scam run by her and a group of strippers at a club in Manhattan in which their wealthy Wall Street banker clients were drugged and then defrauded.

Read more: Strippers’ anger over Hustlers movie

She later pleaded guilty to to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny in April 2017, and received five years' probation.

She told TMZ last week: “[The film] is about my life, they basically stole my story. I wouldn't sign my rights away. I wasn't giving up my film and TV rights for peanuts. J-Lo doesn't work for free, why would I? I'm a businesswoman.

Keke Palmer, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and Lili Reinhart (Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“J-Lo betrayed me. She didn't even reach out to the woman she portrayed. That's kind of degrading.”

Speaking about the producers having previously offered to buy the rights to her story, she added: “Put it this way, I have Hermes bags that cost more than they wanted to give me.”

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She went on: “She basically defamed my character, as a mother. There's a part where she's cooking drugs on a stove with her daughter there. It's not an accurate movie.”

It comes after a number of advocates for the sex work industry slammed the film, not least because the production shut down a working venue in Queens, New York, leaving many out of pocket.

One dancer from the Show Palace club tweeted: “I work at where they filmed and was out of commission the whole week, no compensation of any kind. She dont care about dancers, thats why im not seeing her trash movie.”

“That’s these girls’ livelihoods on the line,” Gizelle Marie, a stripper and sex-worker's rights advocate, told Rolling Stone.

“As far as being protected financially or getting paid, people feel like we are disposable.”

The movie, which also stars Constance Wu and Cardi B, opened last week, with a $33 million debut in the US alone, the most successful movie ever for the STX studio.

So far, it's made $72 million worldwide, on a production budget of $20 million.