Get caught up the exciting excess of SHOWGIRLS
“You got low self-esteem baby, you’re a fantastic fuck.”
The excessive nature of Martin Scorsese’s latest effort The Wolf of Wall Street got me thinking about another movie I love with a massive amount of T&A and crazy behavior. I’m talking about Paul Verhoeven’s SHOWGIRLS (1995). The screenplay was written by Joe Ezsterhaus who had worked with Verhoeven before on another steamy movie Basic Instinct a few years earlier. What occurred with the two when they teamed up for Showgirls was something like a weird cinematic experiment gone awry. The film is a classic “aspiring star” story that focuses on a pretty girl named Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkeley) who is heading to Las Vegas with plans to become the next big sensation. On the way she is ripped off by the guy who gives her a ride and left stranded with no money. Luckily she meets a young woman named Molly who offers her a place to stay until she gets a job. Molly happens to work for the famous Vegas dancer Cristal Conners (Gina Gershon) who turns out to be a mega diva with an ego the size of Jupiter. Meanwhile Nomi gets stuck working as a stripper at a local joint where she learns that the showbiz world is loaded with obstacles and very shady characters. Her shot at the big time finally comes when Cristal and her manager Zack (Kyle McLachlan) arrive at the club one night. They both spot Nomi’s electric stage presence as she bumps and grinds on stage and turns on the audience with her cat like moves. Her natural talent and ferocious drive to succeed soon get her a spot as one of Cristal’s own dancers. Nomi must keep her cool and appease Cristal and her minion as she makes her way up the ladder. Along the way she gets into a romantic affair with another performance artist that helps her hone her dancing skills among other things.
What makes Showgirls special is the over the top nature of the performances and colorful characters. The film plays things as large and bright as the neon lights on the Vegas strip and is basically a big budget sexploitation melodrama. For many it comes across as offensive and laughable, but it’s also really entertaining and contains an energy you don’t get in most movies played straight. The emotions are in your face, the un-PC dialogue/attitudes and steamy sexuality are as well and it makes the experience unique and memorable. Upon its release it was given an NC-17 and Paul Verhoeven took his name off it (a “Jan Janssen” is credited as director). Nearly 20 years later it’s gained a cult classic status for its bigger than life style and racy content. For us, its a Furious Classic from one of our favorite filmmakers that we recommend to those with an open mind and love of the offbeat.