It was a smash at the box office, raking in more than £100million and delighting critics.
With Jennifer Lopez leading a cast that also included Constance Wu and rapper Cardi B, Hustlers went down a storm thanks to its slick style and irreverent portrayal of ‘Robin Hood’ strippers getting one over on “a**hole” clients.
However, the true-life story that inspired the film was one of drug addiction, drunkenness, and ruinous lives.
Roselyn “Rosie” Keo began stripping at a local club before moving to bigger opportunities in New York’s Times Square at the Flash Dancers club and Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club.
On her best nights she could earn up to £7,000 giving private dances and getting tips and gifts from boozed up Wall Street bankers she has since called “a**holes”.
She was also becoming increasingly annoyed at seeing women valued for their bodies, while men were judged on their professional success, money and power.
When she returned to work, the Wall Street bubble burst after she had a child. It was much harder to make a living because bankers had their hands full after the 2008 financial crisis.
Keo and a group of women decided to try ‘fishing’. However, this type of fishing is client-based.
The women would find men who were after some fun, to drink and dance and go to a club, hopefully shovelling tips in their direction along the way.
The club’s goal was to get the guys to open their credit cards. The girls would receive a cut of the money from the club. Prostitutes would be brought in by the men if they wanted to have sex.
Women had many contacts left over from their stripping days. They also had plenty of fish to catch. Men would also want to get narcotics-related ‘fun’.
But there was a problem.
Keo and her crew decided that they would help the men by helping them to get to clubs or to spend thousands of dollars getting wasted.
In secret, they began sneaking a mix of ketamine and methylone (street names Molly or MDMA), along with cocaine into their drinks. The drug almost guaranteed that the men would party hard. They only had vague memories of it the next morning.
Keo later told a journalist: “It sounds so bad to say that we were, like, drugging people but it was, like, normal, they had history, they all walked in ready to party.”
Problems started when men started to wake up with a hangover, and massive credit card bills.
One victim, ‘Fred’, was going through a divorce and his house had been destroyed by a hurricane. He bonded with Keo talking about their children.
He then woke up to find he had spent £17,000. He contacted the police and recorded a conversation with one of the girls who admitted to the drugging and theft.
In another case a cardiologist refused to pay a $135,000 bill charged to his credit card at Scores club, saying he could not have run up that sort of bill unless he had been drugged.
The DEA and police then launched an investigation but struggled to get men to come forward willing to admit they had been swindled. So, the DEA conducted a sting operation on the girls and got them caught.
Keo was charged along with three others with grand larceny and assault as well as forgery.
They pleaded guilty. Keo agreed to a plea bargain that gave her five-years probation. While the other two received probation and were sentenced to four months each, Keo was able to serve five years.
A police press release said at the time: “The group’s scheme involved not only the theft of $200,000, but compromised the health, safety and security of victims by covertly giving them harmful substances.”
As for Keo now? She is now a stay-at-home mom to her daughter and has published a book.
Amazon Prime now has Hustlers available for streaming.