PSA: Showgirls (1995), or I Scrub Until I Bleed, But I Can’t Wash This Movie Off Me!

2 04 2009

Take a look at this clip. Internalize it for a moment. It obviously looks like one of those seedy USA original movies from the mid 90’s (starring Jeff Conaway as a detective with a dirty, sexy secret…). I would even go so far as to say that this might be a TNT original movie from the 90’s, a slight step-up from my original evaluation of said seediness. But would you believe that this film played in a wide theatrical release? After seeing that clip, I most certainly would not. But, believe it or not, children, this movie was heralded as the first NC-17 blockbuster! Remember, everyone, that people were ignorant back in 1995 and did not believe in things like “quality” and “looking at a script before dumping $40 million on a terrible idea”. That was just the way things were. Showgirls is a weird experience, and I don’t think that a lot of people have the courage to sit through such an infamously bad film after hearing people belittle it for more than a decade now. Now, I posit to you that if you look at this like a drama, this might end up being one of the most cringe-inducing experiences of your life, apart from eating glass and going on a date with Eddie Deezen, depending on how interesting your life is. But if you look at this like a bona-fide comedy or a satire, if you will, then you might really get a hoot out of this.

It is essentially about the rising star of unassuming stripper Nomi Malone. She is a sexy hitchhiker looking to make it big on the Vegas strip. She comes into town with no money, no connections, and no place to stay. Things are looking pretty hopeless when she makes the acquaintance of Molly, a friendly, similarly sexy girl who works backstage at the Stardust casino. After forming a bond over strange dialog, Molly asks Nomi to be her roommate, to which Nomi wisely agrees. She gets a job at Cheetah’s, a nasty Vegas strip joint, but she dreams of being a showgirl at the Stardust. That is her one goal. That’s it. Molly sees this, and introduces her to the star of the Stardust Casino, main showgirl Cristal Connors. To Nomi’s dismay, though, we find that Cristal is a stuck-up Southern bitch who wants to humiliate Nomi for seemingly no reason (there is some vague sexual tension here, though it is completely useless). She continues her debasing crusade against Nomi at Cheetah’s, where she demands that she give her beau Zack, who is a bigwig at Stardust, a sexy nude-ish lap dance. Pressure from her boss and the desperate need of cash make her cave, giving Zack such a good dance that he creams his pants (!!!!!!). Despite this obvious assault on Nomi, Cristal actually gets her an audition to be a showgirl (just what she always wanted! Gasp!) The audition goes poorly, but she gets the job anyway (???), probably thanks to Zack, who is starting to get a little sweet on Nomi. This feud will consume the both of them, and in the end, only one of them will be left standing. Will it be Nomi, the young upstart with an unquenchable desire to dance in the nude? Or will Cristal squelch her dreams of success with all her money and power? Or, an even better question, will anyone care after all the blatant bosoms bouncing about?

This is such a greasy, slimy, dirty movie. I needed to brush my eyeballs when I finished this thing. Every single character is caked with sweat and make-up and sexual rebuttals and genital fluids. Vegas is made up to be a place for losers, hookers, pimps, and NOBODY ELSE. Choice pieces of dialog like “It must be weird, not having anybody cum on you” and “I have a problem with pussy; I always have, and I’m always gonna” really bring home the sleaziness of this whole experience. I’m not easily shocked, and while this film does not shock me with its content, it shocks me with its utter lack of a filter. It’s like watching a Burger King employee who just won the lottery tell people how he really feels about them (“You’re the fucking devil, you piece of shit manager!!!”): it’s jarring, it’s unreal, and it makes you wonder if everyone in your life is secretly like this.

Rumors abound as to what everyone was thinking when this was made. Director Paul Verhoeven allegedly made the film over-the-top for comedic effect. I have to firmly disagree. There is no mention in any of the marketing at that time that would in any way indicate a comedic curb to this picture. Verhoeven released no quotes of anything to this effect while he was making it. If Paul Verhoeven were in on this, I’d say he’s the next Andy Kaufman, because I see absolutely no proof of this claim. Nobody knew this was going to kill careers (and it did, for quite some time; Elizabeth Berkley, who played Nomi, would never recover from a career standpoint). No, everyone involved believed that this had some sort of gritty value to it, that it was a masterpiece of Vegas sleaze, and that people would see this and begin to appreciate the Vegas strip scene like it was Warhol’s Factory. They were dead wrong, of course, but therein lies the secret fun of Showgirls. It’s the joke nobody was in on. Unintentional comedy at its finest.

It’s like watching the grimiest soap opera you could ever imagine (Oh, the irony…). Everyone is over-acting, everyone is dramatizing everything. Nomi, at one point, dramatizes while eating some fries!!! It is hilarious! And the line delivery is unbelievable. After Zack, played by the freaky Kyle MacLachlan, cums all over himself in the strip club, Cristal remarks, to my infinite amusement, “Can you walk?” WHAT?!?!?!? I don’t know what it means, but I love it! And who could forget the least likely catchphrase, used by Nomi endlessly, “it doesn’t suck.” To put that into perspective, she uses it like a too-cool-for-school compliment. As in, “How do you like the car?”, to which she would reply, “it doesn’t suck.” Gee, thanks. You wanna piss in the back seat while you’re at it?

So, in conclusion, don’t let this movie scare you away if you’re feeling adventurous. It’s fun, if you like to laugh at a bad movie. And, if you’re under 17, there are lots of breasts! Yay! Otherwise, let’s be brutally honest; this movie is pretty bad. I can’t in good conscience give this movie any more than a 2, as it is actually quite a disaster area to look at for 2 hours. But, you know what? It’s my site, and I enjoyed it, so I’m giving Showgirls 5 1/2 creamed slacks out of 10! 3 1/2 of those points are for pure hilarity, so keep that in mind!

Come back tomorrow, where we discuss Rushmore!

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