Who is Samantha Barbash? The real life true story the Hustlers movie is based on

Margaret Abrams
Jennifer Lopez at a Hustlers photocall: Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez is currently receiving Oscar buzz for her turn as a stripper in new movie Hustlers, but the true story of the woman J Lo's character is based on is arguably even more interesting.

Lopez portrays Ramona, who is said to be based on Samantha Barbash.

Barbash was considered the ringleader behind a group of strippers who allegedly conned wealthy men out of money after drugging them, spending thousands of dollars on their credit cards at strip clubs around New York City. Some of the victims reportedly woke up the next morning with no memory of what had happened the night before.

Barbash was on probation for five years after pleading guilty of conspiracy, assault and grand larceny. She’s now claiming that Lopez and producers did not secure the rights to her life story.

Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers (Courtesy of STXfilms)

According to the New York Post, after the sentencing when Justice Bonnie Wittner asked if Barbash had anything to say she simply replied, “I’m glad this is done,” before giving photographers the middle finger once outside the courthouse.

This week she was spotted emerging from a movie theatre in New York after a screening of Hustlers. According to the Daily Mail she told waiting reporters, "read my book" before flashing a victory sign.

Barbash also goes by the name Samantha Foxxx - and now, she’s coming out with her own version of the story with a book Underscore, which is available now according to her Instagram page.

It describes her clients, who include rappers, movie stars, CEOs and billionaires. According to Vanity Fair, Barbash claims she never stripped. She also says that she wishes Cardi B played her instead of Lopez, because she could "relate more" to her character.

The New York Post’s Page Six got their hands on an early copy of the manuscript and it reads: “My clients were mostly VIP clients at Scores and Hustler... My job was to provide the fun parts, such as the girls and setting the vibe... I would arrange for the hottest girls to come to parties. These girls made top dollar and had to have perfect bodies with beautiful faces to match. Then came the ‘fluffers’. These were the lower tier of girls who would do the ‘dirty work.’ Sometimes their tasks would include an array of sexual activity... These parties always came with huge payouts for me and the girls.”

The story became infamous when Jessica Pressler wrote about the Robin Hood-like women for a New York Magazine article. She described Barbash as a “single mother from the Bronx” who started dancing at 19. “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 ultra-feminine package was a mercenary streak worthy of Gordon Gekko.”

Hustlers director Lorene Scafaria, Keke Palmer and Roselyn Keo (Getty Images)

While Barbash doesn’t support the making of the film, her former alleged partner in crime, Roselyn Keo, attended the movie’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, even walking the red carpet alongside Lopez. Keo says that she and Barbash are both "alpha females."

Barbash appears to have moved on since the alleged heist. She told Fox Business that she has now opened a medical spa that specializes in cosmetic procedures.

In the same interview, she told young women “Save your money and invest. You’re not going to be young forever. Don’t think about the $5,000 Chanel bag—think about the bigger business.”