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Sorry, J. Lo! Ex-Stripper Who Inspired ‘Hustlers’ Claims Film ‘Only Got Half Of It Right’

Main, Jennifer Lopez attends Hollywood Foreign Press Association x The Hollywood Reporter party. Inset, Roselyn Keo smiling.
Source: Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock; Roselyn Keo

Sep. 13 2019, Published 8:00 p.m. ET

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Roselyn Keo is one of the ex-strippers whose former crimes of drugging rich, male clients and running extremely steep, fraudulent charges on their credit cards inspired the making of the Hustlers movie, starring Jennifer Lopez. Now, in an exclusive interview with, Keo stressed that the movie only reveals “half” of her life story.

Keo, 35, who lives in the New York City area, told it’s been “surreal” rubbing shoulders with Alex Rodriguez’s fiancée, as well as Constance Wu, who plays her in the film as the character “Destiny.” Keo recently traveled to the Toronto International Film Festival for its world premiere.

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“The movie is really half-fiction and half-real,” Keo told “So, they didn’t nail the movie 100 percent on the head because it’s just inspired by my life, not based on it.”

Hustlers was created after Jessica Pressler’s New York article, “The Hustlers at Scores,” went viral. The article explained how strip club host Samantha Barbashplayed by J. Lo in the film – operated as a ringleader of dancers, who would spike men’s drinks with a special blend of MDMA and ketamine and then steal hundreds of thousands from their credit cards.

Keo was one of Barbash’s first recruits. While the 35-year-old claimed that Wu “did a good job” portraying her in the film, she’s gearing up to release her own memoir titled, The Sophisticated Hustler, to share never-before-heard details of her life.

“It is my life at the end of the day, and the movie did strike a few nerves,” said Keo. “I feel so much better now that I’m doing the book because the movie has so many holes and there’s so many questions that people are asking me.”

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Alex Rodriguez

One thing the film did get right, however, is just how raw the stripper gang's lives were at the time. "They nailed the human nature story to show that we're not just these sex workers," Keo explained. "It shows the story of greed and desperation. I feel like we were painted as real people."

Barbash and Keo’s now famous fishing scheme took advantage of mostly married men. In 2014, Dr. Zyad Younan reported $135,000 worth of fraudulent credit card charges to his account. This led to Keo, Barbash, and their co-workers Karina Pascucci and Marsi Rosen’s arrests.

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Fast-forward to today, and Keo is grateful she decided to “cooperate” with police in order to escape jail time. She pleaded guilty to grand larceny and assault and received five years’ probation.

“The moment I decided to cooperate was the moment my life changed for the better. It was the silver lining,” Keo said.

Keo said she is now focused on being a mom to her one daughter. While she’s happy with her life today, she admitted she does have one regret.

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“The only thing I do regret is looking back at the lives, the guys that we took advantage of,” Keo explained, adding, “I could forgive everyone for everything that they’ve done to me. But I hope that they’re in a good place today.”

The Sophisticated Hustler is expected to be released by the end of September.

Despite being labeled as a “liar” because of her crimes, Keo said that money is no longer her motivation.

“This book is not about the money. I have a break-even number in my head when it comes to the book. At the end of the day, I am a hustler. I did hang up my shoes to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m in this to empower women,” she said.



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