Meet the she-wolf of Wall Street
HUSTLERS I J-Lo’s strip-club con artists rob the wolves of Wall Street in a true crime comedy…
The global financial crisis had massive implications for the economy, but one unexpected profession was disproportionately affected: New York strip-club workers. “2008 really did change things for their industry,” says Lorene Scafaria, the writer and director of Hustlers. “Their clients were mostly these Wall Street guys, and they were hit very specifically because their clients didn’t have the money anymore.”
As detailed in Jessica Pressler’s viral New York Magazine article, ‘The Hustlers At Scores’, one group of strippers operating out of Scores nightclub refused to take this lying down. Their plan was straightforward but devastatingly effective: lace a client’s drink with an MDMA/ketamine cocktail and simply ask them for their sensitive financial details. Despite stealing upwards of $100,000 a night, the crimes were rarely reported due to the potential for public embarrassment – and who would believe these reckless suits anyway?
“It’s this very strange, very recent history that was fascinating to me,” says Scafaria (Seeking A Friend For The
End Of The World). “Strip clubs had gone mainstream around 2000; Howard Stern had made Scores the hottest club in New York City. I was really interested in a stripper movie about capitalism, our gender roles, and how they’re related.”
As Scafaria points out, “We’ve seen a scene in a strip club in every TV show and movie ever, but we so rarely see it from this other side.” Here, as is often the case in real life, the strip-club workers are young women, many single mums, simply trying to get by. But despite the legitimacy of being adapted from a widely shared article, and the backing of Gloria Sanchez Productions, there was still a stigma surrounding a story set in and around such controversial spaces.
“As salacious as the article read, I thought, ‘There’s so much more to these women who work in this industry.’ Even in trying to get the movie made people were more offended by what they did for a living than the crime itself,” says Scafaria, whose white hot script was quickly snapped up by distributors STX when Annapurna Pictures got cold feet. “That stigma was a real reason why I really wanted to explore this world.”
The material proved irresistible to one of the world’s biggest stars: Jennifer Lopez, who was the first to sign on as Ramona, the hustle’s mastermind and mentor to Constance Wu’s single mother Destiny. They’re joined by Lizzo and Cardi B – musical powerhouses making their film debuts. “You never imagine that you’ll get the people that you fantasised about,” Scafaria beams. “As luck would have it, their insanely busy schedules worked out. And everybody really wanted to work with J-Lo – that made it a lot easier to assemble such a group of people!”
ETA | 13 SEPTEMBER / HUSTLERS OPENS THIS AUTUMN.