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Showgirls

Showgirls was a film directed by Paul Verhoeven and released in 1995 by MGM. It starred former child actor Elizabeth Berkley (Saved by the Bell) as a drifter who wanders into Las Vegas and climbs the social ladder from stripper to showgirl[?]. The film was slated to be a huge success for the film studio, its directors, and stars. Much hype was put into the unusually gratuitous amounts of sex and nudity that were in the film, but it could have never been predicted just how extreme those things would turn out to be.

Plot

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

Sexy and mysterious (if temperamental) Nomi (Berkley) hitchhikes into Las Vegas, but everything she owns is stolen by her driver. While Nomi is vomiting on the side of a car, the car's owner, Molly, a seamstress[?], confronts her. After talking and discovering Nomi does not have any family, Molly takes her in, helping to get her a job as a stripper at the seedy Cheetah club. One night Nomi accompanies Molly backstage at Goddess, the Vegas show at the Stardust hotel where Molly is costume mistress. Nomi meets Crystal Conners (Gina Gershon), the irritable star of the show. When Nomi tells Crystal that she, too, is a dancer, Crystal tells Nomi what she does is akin to prostitution.

The next evening Crystal and her boyfriend (and entertainment manager at the Stardust) Zach (Kyle MacLachlan) visit the Cheetah where they pay Nomi $500 for a lap dance. Nomi is furious at having proven herself to be the prostitute she was called, but later discovers Crystal has set Nomi up for an audition as an ensemble dancer in the show Goddess. When Nomi gets the job, she quits her stripping gig. Soon Nomi is flirting with Zach, and eventually, in an attempt to get ahead, Nomi pushes Crystal down a flight of stairs and injures her badly. Nomi ends up getting Crystal's lead in the show.

However, at the opening night party, Molly is brutally raped by famous musician Andrew Carver and his two security guards. When Nomi confronts Zach, she is told that they will give Molly some money to "open a little dress shop," and essentially keep her quiet. Their primary interest is in protecting their high-profile celebrity client. He then confronts Nomi with the truth he has discovered: that she is actually a runaway and former prostitute who has been arrested several times. Nomi, confronted with her shameful past (but also frightened at who she has become and what lies ahead), flees Las Vegas (but not before attacking Andrew Carver), hoping to try her luck in Los Angeles instead.

Reaction

The film's subject matter was relatively controversial, but relevant: rape, lesbianism, and interracial relationships[?] were just some of the topics explored. The concept of doing anything to achieve fame and success had never before been addressed at this level. However, the extreme nudity and simulated sex in the film (coupled with what was regarded as one of the most tasteless rape scenes ever recorded) and writing deemed incredibly poor (the screenplay was written by Joe Eszterhas[?], who reportedly received USD 1,000,000 for the script) did not lend itself to what might have been an enthralling film. Instead the film was heralded as one of the worst ever written, winning 13 Razzie Awards[?] (the awards given to the worst movies of the year).

The film essentially sealed the acting fate of actress Berkley, whose most notable appearance since has been a supporting part in the film The First Wives Club[?] (legend has it that actress Goldie Hawn, co-producer of The First Wives Club, demanded that Berkley be given the role in a chance to "redeem herself from that horrific picture she did"). Somehow, however, Gershon managed to survive the scourge of the film, going on to moderate acting success.

Since its release, the film has achieved a cult status. It is shown at midnight madness theaters alongside films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert[?]. It has grossed over a hundred million dollars, making it a commercial success. It is heralded as one of the best "good-bad movies" of all time, and is somewhat of a camp classic (in the vein of Valley of the Dolls[?].)

The rights to show the film on television were eventually purchased by the VH1 network. However, because of the film's gratuitous nudity, a landmark moment in cinema history occurred. An alternate version of the film was created with black bra and panties digitially edited over all frontally nude actors and actresses. (This was done in addition to massive scene removal.) Berkley refused to redub her lines, so a distinctly different actress's voice is used in dubbing.



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