A consultant for the film Hustlers said sex workers have had mixed reactions to the hit film, feeling both “super jazzed” about the representation it gives, but also “really pissed off” about the double standards Hollywood is allowed to perpetuate.
Jacqueline Frances, who served as a “comfort consultant” for the film, told BuzzFeed News’ Twitter show AM to DM that despite Hustlers promoting strippers “and being super hot on Instagram with their blue check marks,” sex workers are getting “deleted and shadow-banned every day.”
“It just doesn’t seem fair,” she said. “Why does Hollywood get to sensationalize and have all of the permission to promote this culture, while actual sex workers are suffering every day and getting deleted off Instagram?”
Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, and Julia Stiles, tells the story of a group of New York City–based strippers who drug stock traders and CEOs in order to steal their money. The movie first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier in September and was released in theaters Sept. 13. The film, which has been a box office success and well-received by critics, is based on a New York magazine article from 2015 titled, “The Hustlers at Scores.”
“It just seems hypocritical and seems unfair,” Frances said. “If we’re going to make a movie about sex workers, we need to respect sex workers.”
While some sex workers didn’t like the double standard that Hollywood is allotted with Hustlers, Frances said plenty of them also really liked the movie, saying “they were also super excited that there’s a movie that doesn’t kill every stripper in the end.”
“Most movies that feature strippers, there’s always a violent scene against us,” Frances said. “And that’s toxic and a real problem that we face, so it’s not funny, it’s not like a plot device. It’s a very real problem.”
Frances, who also goes by Jacq the Stripper, said that her role on set as a consultant was to make sure everyone “felt comfortable with what they were doing” when simulating sexual content. She said this new consultant role in the film industry was inspired by intimacy coordinator positions, which are intended to make sure people are comfortable simulating sex onscreen.
“It was more about [giving] notes as the scenes were unfolding where I felt I could be the most impactful about making sure that I accurately represented what my experience was, like, being a stripper in New York City,” Frances said. “Which is a distinct experience.”
Cardi B and Lizzo also star in Hustlers, which Frances said she “fan-girled” about when it came time to film. The consultant said she had an especially funny moment on set when working with Lizzo, whom she called “radiant, wonderful, and encouraging.”
“When we were filming, I was sitting on the dressing room counter trying to be casual and I’m wearing a G-string and a dress, I’m in a stripper outfit, and my pussy pops out,” Frances said.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m having a wardrobe problem,’ and [Lizzo’s] like, ‘Oh, the carpet matches the drapes, cute!’ So thank you Lizzo for supporting me and my bush. I appreciate it.”