12 August 2019 2220 Views

From The People Vs Larry to a Modern ‘Hustler’ Movie: Does it Pay to Hustle on Film?

by James Murphy

Why Is the New Hustlers Movie Called Hustlers?

The release date for Hustlers is quickly approaching, and with September just around the corner, it’s looking to be an exciting release. The star-studded cast is excitedly raving about the filming and scripting procedures and sharing tantalizing clips on social media, and it’s gotten everyone in the mood to see some fun on the big screen.

But where did the name come from?

Titles are everything, especially when it comes to blockbuster movies, so the movie wasn’t just named Hustlers on a whim. So what was the thought process behind it?

The Story

The first question is, what’s Hustlers even about? Even if you’ve heard about it from some of your favorite celebrities’ Instagram feeds, you might not have a complete understanding of what the movie’s going to show you.

Hustlers is a fictionalized version of a real story. Based on a 2015 article from the New York Times, Hustlers is all about a group of strippers who take to more devious methods of extracting money from the men who come by their club. Rather than just letting the men tip them, they decided to scam, extort, and straight-up steal from these wealthy men. Of course, although the rise of the group is awe-inspiring, their fall is equally amazing to watch.

The cast features stars from across the spectrum. Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lizzo, and Keke Palmer are all offering up their talents alongside other industry favorites. Whether you’re in it for the visuals, the story, or a bit of both, you probably won’t be disappointed.

The Headline

How was the word “hustlers” associated with the movie in the first place? The 2015 piece that originally showed the story to the public was called “The Hustlers at Scores,” with Scores being the club that the women started at. That headline was what cemented the concept of these women being hustlers. So why did the author use that word anyway?

The Etymology

To get to the original idea behind the word “hustler,” you have to go all the way back to the late 1600s. Back then, it just meant “to shake,” which morphed into an idea of “pushing and shoving,” which by the 1820s came into an idea of “working quickly.” By the 1840s, a sense of illicitness had already seeped into it, but it would take over 100 years for that to really come into its own as part of the American consciousness.

The Movie

You have pool to thank for the widespread use of the word “hustle” to mean “scamming another into paying you.” By the 1950s, “pool hustling,” which was a calculated way to rig a pool game, was fairly well-known, at least in the billiards world. But a 1961 movie — ironically also called The Hustler — was what made it prominent for most Americans. This movie showed a pool hustler going through the most extreme human emotions, all while scamming other players out of their money. It was a box office hit and a critical success, both of which served to make “hustler” part of everyday vocabulary.

The HUSTLER® Brand

Once people knew what a hustler was, it was only a matter of time until it was monetized. The big idea came from Larry Flynt, who created HUSTLER® in 1969. With its willingness to get as explicit as a magazine could, it capitalized on the sleazier connotations of the word, and nowadays, the word “hustler” is as likely to bring to mind a pool shark as it is the pornographic magazine.

Though it was founded 50 years ago, the HUSTLER® name still has as much weight as it did during the absolute height of its popularity. It’s expanded, too; HUSTLER® Hollywood, which sells lingerie, sex toys, and other items, is one of the most popular online stores of its kind, and it also has multiple physical stores sprinkled across the United States.


It’s hard to say how well the upcoming Hustlers movie will do. One thing’s for sure, though: it’s definitely going to have a lot of fans, even just for the sake of its gorgeous fans.

Whether you have no interest in seeing the new movie or you’ve been excited since it was first released, hopefully knowing a bit more about the etymology of the term has made you even more interested. From the HUSTLER® brand to the big screen, hustling has always been in style.




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