Showgirls (1995, Paul Verhoeven)

“You fuck ’em without fuckin’ ’em”

Such a cynical movie, made by Verhoeven in the middle of his 1990’s prime. When it was over I checked something online and was suddenly reminded of its campy so-bad-it’s-good reputation, which definitely scanned in the first few scenes when Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) gets a ride to Vegas from an Elvis-haired scam artist, but I got on the movie’s heightened wavelength and enjoyed greatly – I doubt I’ve said “oh my god” more times in a two-hour period than when watching this.

Nomi is prone to tantrums and seems like a real pain in the ass, but people keep helping her… though I guess the Elvis-guy stealing her suitcase at the end of the opening sequence teaches us to be on guard. She dances at a shitty club until Kyle MacLachlan walks in with his dancer-gal Gina Gershon (looking ready for her breakout in Bound the next year), who buys Kyle a Nomi lapdance. Kyle then gets Nomi an audition at a fancier hotel where she takes over as understudy and gets her big break (by pushing Gina down some stairs). Meanwhile her supportive roommate Gina Ravera gets raped by her celebrity crush, and some dude from Nomi’s past is threatening to tell everyone about her pre-Vegas criminal life.

Nomi and Gina R:

Nomi and Gina G:

From the writer of Flashdance and Basic Instinct… it feels like one of those decadent. doomed 1980s-90s studio films. Everything looks 20% too studio-fake – or maybe that’s just Vegas. At least one Prince song. Okay this is stupid, but earlier the same night I watched Hang the DJ, directed by Timothy Van Patten who once played “Max Keller” in Master Ninja… and Robert Davi, Nomi’s boss Al at the strip club, played a “Max Keller” in Raw Deal a couple years later. Nomi’s boyfriend/bouncer/choreographer Glenn Plummer (also of Strange Days and Menace II Society) is one of the few who returned for Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven. Elizabeth Berkley trained in ballet and was clearly wasted on Saved by the Bell, but supposedly this movie ruined her acting career, while Kyle, who claims to be embarrassed by it, was unaffected.

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