Samantha Barbash, also known as Samantha Foxx, was the real-life hustler who inspired the character, Ramona Vega, on Hustlers, played by Jennifer Lopez.
The film tells the story of Barbash, Roselyn Keo, Karina Pascucci and Marsi Rosen, who were ultimately charged for drugging wealthy clients and wracking up huge bills on their credit cards. Barbash called the scheme “marketing,” although it would more accurately be described as fishing. In 2017, Barbash pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny in exchange for five years probation.
Barbash, who is 45, runs a spa. She became an exotic dancer at 19 and later a hostess at Scores Gentleman’s Club in Chelsea, New York. Barbash is from the Bronx.
The story will be featured on 20/20 on ABC at 10/9C Friday, September 13. Following the highly publicized court case that took down the ruse, the story gained more traction with a New York Magazine article written in 2015 by Jessica Pressler, “The Hustlers at Scores.”
Pressler interviewed Roselyn Keo and Barbash, the crew’s ringleader. Barbash was “ancient by stripper standards” when she met Rosie, but had learned to recruit young dancers into her scheme, Pressler wrote.
“And everyone wanted to work with Samantha,” Rosie told Pressler. “Because she had a lot of clients and she knew how to work well.”
Keo’s name was changed to Destiny in the film.
The crew’s downfall ultimately came when Dr. Zyad Younan reported the scam to authorities, saying he was lured to Scores in 2013, drugged, and had $135,000 in charges wracked up on his credit card.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Barbash, Like Vega, Was a Single Mother, & Said Her Son Was Her Reason for Hustling
Barbash was a single mother, like Ramona Vega, the fictional character based on her, played by Jennifer Lopez.
She told the Sun she was not targeting Wall Street workers as revenge for the financial crisis, but only wanted to make enough money to support her son as a single mom.
“Robbing bankers because they robbed Wall Street or whatever – that never crossed my mind,” she said. “What crossed my mind is I’m a single mom and I need to support my son.”
Barbash is on probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny.
Her work payments included a $100,000 paid Caribbean vacation and thousand-dollar shopping sprees to Louis Vuitton.
“I worked during the recession, but it didn’t really affect our money, to be honest,” Barbash told FOX Business. “The adult industry never gets affected by that – people are depressed because they’re not making money.”
2. Barbash Would Go Over a List of Client Numbers ‘Like a Telemarketer’ & Send ‘A Sexy Text’ & Photo
Barbash had accrued the phone numbers of many clients over the years, who provided her with multiple revenue streams. Barbash “would go down the list of client phone numbers she’d accrued over the years” and “send them a sexy text and a photograph and see if they were up for a night out,” according to New York Magazine.
“You know, like a telemarketer would do,” she told the reporter.
Like Vega did on Hustlers, she would sometimes send a photo of other women in her crew to sweeten the deal for the clients.
Like in the movie, she would use a mixture of MDMA and ketamine on the men. If they later called and complained about the size of the bill, she would tell them they had such a good time and seemed so happy that they were tipping everyone.
Barbash would target “mostly Wall Street guys who want to have fun and get drunk and party with girls,” she told New York Magazine.
Those “Wall Street guys” made easy targets because they were unhappy with their jobs, which meant they had something in common with strippers, Keo told New York Magazine.
“The reason why Wall Street guys party so hard is because they’re not happy with their jobs,” she said. “You make money, but you’re not happy, so you go out and splurge on strip clubs and drinking and drugs, then the money depletes and you have to make it again. The dancers are the same way. You make money, but then you’re depressed, so you end up shopping or going on vacation, and the money depletes, so you go back.”
3. Barbash Had a Heart for ‘Ex-Strippers With Problems,’ Ultimately Leading to the Scheme’s Downfall
Barbash had a tendency to recruit “strays” who ultimately proved untrustworthy, many of them “ex-strippers with problems” like drug addiction. One of those recruits disclosed on a phone call they hustled a client with a crew of strippers. The client, cardiologist Zyad Younan, recorded that call and took it to the police. It led to the crew’s downfall.
“When I’m doing business with somebody, I want stand-up people, not junkies and criminals,” Keo told New York Magazine. “People that have morals and principles.”
The recording ultimately became a key piece of evidence in the case.
“It was very weird,” one of the cops who investigated the case told New York Magazine.
“If it wasn’t for the tape,” another said, “I would have been like, ‘Dude, I think you are f****** full of s***.’ ”
4. Barbash Said Hustler Movie Producers & J.Lo Never Secured Rights to Her Story & She Is Considering a Lawsuit
Barbash claims Hustler movie producers and Jennifer Lopez are portraying her life story without permission. She is considering a lawsuit against Lopez and the production company, STX Entertainment.
“We’re putting a stop to it because she’s actually misrepresenting me,” Barbash said of J.Lo in an interview with the New York Post. “I was never a stripper. “It’s defamation of character.”
Barbash said she was a hostess at Scores Gentleman’s Club and now runs a spa.
Bruno Gioffre, told Page Six, he plans to see the movie before deciding what steps to take.
“The movie is based on court records from the trial and a New York magazine interview of one of the co-defendants in the case against dancers at Scores,” he said. “Although Samantha wasn’t a dancer at that time, we believe the movie and Jennifer Lopez’s character is based on her. We plan on seeing the movie before deciding on what steps to take.”
5. Barbash Is Releasing a Book, Called Underscores, Which Talks About Hustling ‘a Well-Known R&B Singer’ Who Became Her Friend
Barbash wrote a book, Underscore, to tell her story her own way. It will be published later in September 2019. She released an excerpt to Page Six, which discussed her scheme, “a well-known R&B singer who had a volatile reputation” and a Wall Street client from Pennsylvania.
Barbash wrote in the excerpt the singer’s security took all of their phones and made them sign non-disclosure agreements. He became paranoid from drugs and apologized. They exchanged numbers, and became friends, she said.
The Wall Street client took them shopping at Christian Louboutin on Horatio Street. They spent $80,000, she said, and he offered to take them out again the next night.
Barbash told the Sun her fiance and son are supporting her in publishing her book.
“And I have a lot of support from my fiance, my family, especially my son and my fiance. They are the ones that have been pushing me to do the book and to tell the true story because why should Jennifer Lopez, as much as I love her, and her production company, do this movie that’s not correct, not factual,” she said.
The excerpt said:
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.”
There was one night at Hustler where a well-known R&B singer who had a volatile reputation was partying all night in a private room. He wanted to continue the party in his hotel room, so he requested the host to invite all of us to come over. He said he would pay each girl an extra $8K.
When we arrived at his five-star hotel suite, his security promptly took all of our phones and made us sign nondisclosure forms. They wanted to make sure that none of the wild partying, which included a lot of drugs, would be leaked to the media.
He was so paranoid that there was no sex involved. Even the fluffers did not need to do anything. All he wanted to do was dance with the girls and do mounds of cocaine with all the naked bodies surrounding him. After an hour and a half . . . he started acting beyond strange, and kept looking out the windows and under the doors constantly from the paranoia of all the drugs he ingested. Once he saw that I was leaving, he said, ‘Please don’t go. I’m sorry. I’m f - - ked up. I like your company.’ He handed me a huge tip and his personal phone number and we’ve been friends ever since.
[The Pennsylvania client] and I left around 5 a.m., after he spent about $115,000. This wasn’t a big deal because it was considered a small amount of money. The usual top girls I worked with came along. Ariana, Hana and I got into a luxury SUV supplied by the club and went to Christian Louboutin on Horatio Street.
I called ahead and asked them to open the store for me around 6 a.m. The manager . . . said he would open the store, but we would have to spend a minimum of $30K. I told him, ‘Easy, no problem!’ and that we would most likely spend close to $80K. We spent almost exactly [that] amount in less than an hour. We all got an insane amount of shoes and purses! It was every girl’s dream.
The Pennsylvania client didn’t care about the money and loved the way we shopped so much that he said, ‘Let’s do it again tomorrow!’ The next day we picked him up from the Wall Street power player restaurant, Smith and Wollensky . . . and went straight to the high-end jewelry store Tourneau, where he bought two Rolex Presidential watches for me.