Today should be declared a national holiday. 14 years ago today, September 22, the world received the best present in cinematic history. Today I celebrate and honor one of my favorite movies of all time, the most misunderstood movie of the 90s and the greatest movie ever made- Showgirls!
I had planned to have a Showgirls party sometime this week and invite people over to eat chips and fajitas and maybe doggy chow. I wanted a table with burgers, fries, and sodas, and another table with brown rice, vegetables, and Evian. (With a sign that said, “What kind of Showgirl are you?”) If I have time I may still throw this party, even if I’m the only one in attendance. I have seen this movie dozens of times. I am a member of the Elizabeth Berkley Fan Club on Facebook. I have read the Showgirls coffee table book where Paul VerHover waxes poetically about the plot and the characters, stressing the deeper meanings and themes behind the gold and glitz.
The main character, Nomi Malone, is an archetype for each of us- she is driven by her passion of the dance, hungry for fame and fortune, bi-polar, flighty and unstable, lusting after the men and women who can make her a star. She, like all of us, has a mysterious past that haunts her and she tries in vain to distance herself from it. She’s a heartbreaker and a cold, calculating bee-ach, but at the same time is like a frightened child, lost and alone in a big, heartless world. She is as dumb as the day is long and oblivious to the facts of reality around her. (It’s kind of like watching a documentary about Britney Spears, isn’t it?)
This movie is like a showgirl herself, teasing the audience by taking something off only to reveal something else underneath. There is always something new to discover. For example, her name is like Naomi, but it’s Nomi. Nomi sounds like “No Me” which is another way of saying “No Self”! That clicked for me after the first few times I watched it and this stylistic flourish endeared me to the movie. There is that scene where Tony Moss calls her Pollyanna and she says in a panic, “What did you call me?” Then at the end we learn her name really is Polly Ann! And what about how she always gets so upset and defensive when someone calls her a whore; then we learn that she really WAS a whore! I’ve heard criticism that she is a bad dancer, but that criticism is so wrong. The more you watch the movie you learn that her dancing is not bad, it’s exactly what you would expect from her: aggressive, stiff, unsexy and angry because so is she! Despite all this Nomi sucks everyone she comes in contact with straight into her warm, topless bosom. She is violent and beats up people as well as cars with callous disregard for their feelings and everyone she meets can’t seem to get enough of it.
I can’t fail to mention the roller coaster of excitement packed into this film. In just the first 5 minutes of the movie she pulls a knife on someone, almost causes 2 car crashes, barfs all over the place, almost makes out with a girl with barf all down her chin, and then throws fries at that same girl a mere 20 seconds later, then, in an instant goes from raging lunatic, to mentally impaired when she asks sweetly, “Are you hitting on me?” God I love it!!
One of my most favorite moments is when Cristal Connors (a.k.a. Gina Gershon) goes to the Cheetah to see Nomi dance. She comes walking into the strip club wearing the hottest dress I’ve ever seen on anyone. I want her body and I want to wear that dress!
Nomi thrashes around during (and while simulating) sex like a diabetic without her insulin. It’s the most unsexy sex scenes I’ve ever seen and instead of getting you in the mood for some hanky panky, the movie makes you feel like you never want to have sex again. To me, a movie with so much sex and nakedness that makes someone feel NOT in the mood is power.
Showgirls, on this glorious day of your release, I salute you!