Ask For A Happy Ending: Scarlett Johansson & Rupert Sanders Bringing Yinzer Sex Queen To Big Screen

The GHOST IN THE SHELL duo reunite for Steel City folklore.

Depending on what generation you hail from, if you have family in the Steel City area who were adults during the '70s, they know the name Jean Marie Gill (or, as most knew her, "Tex" Gill). From a '14 profile in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

George Lee had just dined at his favorite Italian restaurant when he was shot to death in a Downtown parking lot. Lee’s murder — on Feb. 12, 1977 — set off a battle for control of his lucrative empire of massage parlors, thinly disguised fronts for prostitution.

Nick DeLucia, a former city fireman who was with Lee when he was gunned down, took over operation of three massage parlors — Maya in Market Square, Gemini on Liberty Avenue and Scandinavian. For awhile, DeLucia’s business partner was Dante “Tex” Gill, an overweight  Brentwood woman who dressed like a man in suits and ties, wore short hair and sideburns and preferred to be called “Mr. Gill.”  A lesbian, Gill married Cynthia Bruno of Dallas, Texas, in Hawaii and lived with her in Pittsburgh before the couple eventually split.

Gill ran a string of businesses, including the Spartacus Massage Parlor in McKees Rocks, the Japanese Meditation Temple and the Taurean Models massage parlor, located at Penn Avenue and Ninth Street, Downtown. When authorities raided Spartacus in 1978, Gill threw a birthday cake at undercover Pennsylvania State Trooper Gerald Fielder.

Gill became sort of an urban folklore legend around the three rivers, as she not only ran girls - whom she would treat to mink furs and diamonds, but also lie detector tests and torture if they were thought to be thieving - but also an anabolic steroids ring that reportedly helped the Steelers achieve at least one of their Super Bowl victories in a monumental string of wins between '76 - '80. This is where the topic becomes contentious with certain Yinzers, as there's no way their beloved heroes could've ever been corrupted by criminal forces. 

Now, Scarlett Johansson is re-teaming with her Ghost In the Shell director, Rupert Sanders, to help bring Gill's story to life on the big screen. Rub & Tug - which is the name of the script penned by Gary Spinelli - is described as an "American Hustle-style story" of the massage parlor queen's rise and fall while operating numerous brothels in Pitt's Red Light District (which was a thing during the '70s/'80s, believe it or not) before being busted for tax evasion in '84. In-between there was sexual blackmail, mail bombs, and a lesbian love affair between Gill and her longtime Dallas-born girlfriend, Cynthia Bruno. 

It'll be fascinating to see how Gill is approached as a character, as one glance at her mugshot reveals a woman who looked more like former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott than Black Widow. This is also a woman who was described by the '80 Pittsburgh Press (after they'd awarded Tex both the "Dubious Man" and "Woman" of the Year Awards):

“In Tex we see the perfect symbol for the upscale androgyny of the 1980s. She embodies business savvy, sexual confusion and an eye for fashion like no one since Michael Jackson.”

It'll be cool to see if Johansson goes the Charlize Theron/Monster route and alters her appearance, or if a good amount of liberties will be taken with the story (probably the latter, if this writer were to take a wild guess).

As for Sanders, the director's an odd choice for this picture (seeing how Ghost In the Shell is barely watchable), but probably speaks more toward his solid working relationship with Scarlett and producer Joel Silver (who's helping usher the movie along, much like he did with Ghost). To be fair, Sanders has a stellar eye, and probably just needs a chance to flex his storytelling muscles, but his name certainly raised an eyebrow in the movie's trade announcement

Johansson is currently shooting JoJo Rabbit for Taika Waititi, and a Black Widow stand-alone seems to be coming closer to fruition with each passing day (as Marvel have been meeting with potential directors), but Rub & Tug is said to be eyeing a start date of February 2019, with a budget of $30 million. A mid-level movie for adults! Holy crap, that's reason alone to get intrigued by this.