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How "Hustlers" Hustles Us

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The most orgasmic (retail-gasmic?) scene in the movie is when Ramona and Destiny pay one snooty saleswoman with a big thick wad of small bills.

Striptease Capitalism

"Everybody's hustling," Ramona explains. "This city--this whole country's a strip club. You got people tossing the money. And people doing the dance...

"It's business and it's a more honest transaction than anything else they did that day...

"We gotta start thinking like these Wall Street guys. You see what they did to this country? They stole from everyone. Hardworking people lost everything. And not one of these douchebags went to jail. You ever think about that when you're in the club? That's stolen money. That's what's paying for their blowjobs. The f*cking fire fighters' retirement fund. f*ck these guys."

Preach, Ramona!

But wait, what are you preaching? That capitalist corruption excuses you for being the Bill Cosby of strippers?

But speaking of getting ripped off...

Where are the Boobs?

Hustlers has a lot of authentic strip-club touches, competition alternating with solidarity among the workers, highs and lows under the flashing lights.

But one key factor that's missing--for obvious Hollywood reasons--is nudity. In a typical strip club, there are lots of naked or at least topless dancers, both onstage (that's what the customers come to throw their money at) and backstage. There are a few titillating t*tty flashes in Hustlers; Lizzo frees the nipple for a bouncy second, Cardi B wears gigantic flower pasties, and one of the male customers is naked--while passed out. But the star strippers never strip.

I understand that the producers didn't want to receive an "X" rating which would have damned their movie to the gulag of adult films (though Hustlers is banned in Malaysia anyway).

But presenting strippers without nudity is kind of like portraying Batman without the cape.

That was one of many things I liked about the much-maligned 1995 Showgirls: lots of boobs. Do I sound like a pervert? Well, all right, I confess: I like nudity in mainstream films, and I am not ashamed! Of course, it's just a superficial quibble. If I want to see boobs, I can look at porn or go to a real strip club, right?

Besides, the Hustlers actresses are so gorgeous; I get turned on just looking at Constance Wu's expressive face" or J Lo's expressive buns.

Still, there is that authenticity factor. It's missing.

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Susan Block, Ph.D., aka "Dr. Suzy," best-known for her groundbreaking HBO specials, is a best-selling author and international champion of sex education, erotic freedom and bonobo apes. Her latest book, The Bonobo Way, has been praised as (more...)
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How "Hustlers" Hustles Us

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