Starring; Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan
Director: Paul Verhoven
Distributor: Roadshow Entertainment
Las Vegas has to rank as one of the most gaudy, vacuous, superficial places on Earth and any movie set there would amount to nothing if it didn’t at least attempt to capture this peculiar quality. Director Paul Verhoven’s Showgirls not only captures it, it rolls around in it like a jelly wrestler with an insatiable sweet tooth. The effect is somewhat sickening but the film has managed to achieve a cult status, especially among certain lesbian fans.
Spun around a vapour thin plot about a pushy hooker who hitch-hikes into town to find fame and fortune as a dancer but can only do so by muscling in on the top showgirls’ turf, the film is a pale imitation of that true classic All About Eve, with the high art of theatre replaced by a parade of low-life flashing their tits and feathers.
Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) is the tricked-up doxy on the war path with a set of killer nails that are the envy of every other showgirl. However, she is plastered with so much make-up that her natural features are hardly recognisable. What, one wonders, could she be hiding under there? A hideous skin disease, perhaps? In one terrifying scene, she kisses her conveniently disabled rival Cristal Conners (a catty Gina Gershon) and smears so much lipstick all over her face it’s frankly laughable. In fact, most of the value in Showgirls comes from the ludicrous behaviour of its two leading ladies who seem to be doing their best to outdo Joan Collins.
Written by Joe Esterhauz, who also penned Flashdance and Basic Instinct (again directed by Verhoven), this camp piece of trash is loaded with lively back stage bitch fighting. There is no shortage of outrageous dance routines either – one inspired by sado-masochistic rituals, another featuring a not so subtle erupting volcano. Yep, it’s all about getting your rocks off, so to speak, and Nomi willingly assists by stripping off at every opportunity, sliding down poles and turning on tricks of lap-dancing. Twin Peaks’ Kyle MacLachlan is the hapless recipient of the latter favour and so impressed is he that he helps Nomi get the break she so doesn’t deserve. In the end, Showgirls is so bad, it’s good…..well, almost.