"You are a whore, darlin. We all are. We take the cash, we cash the check, we show ‘em what they wanna see."Showgirls
— Cristal Connors
was a 1995 sexploitation film written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Paul Verhoeven
. The only movie to receive a wide release under the NC-17 rating, this tale of the lives of Vegas strippers set to the plot of 42nd Street
may have been partially responsible for the rating's decline; it was basically an X-rated movie that went through the ratings process (which actually isn't required for an X rating; anyone wanting to make an X-rated movie will gladly release it as such on their own). That said, however, when compared to the explicitness of today's cable television series even the unrated version of the movie would barely qualify for an R-rating today.
The film tells the tale of Nomi Malone
(Elizabeth Berkley), a country girl who hitchhikes to Las Vegas
in hopes of becoming "a dancer" and eventually (after a lot of nudity, a lot of sleaze, a little violence, and a lot of choreographed numbers) making her way to the top.
Common reactions are split between thinking it's a campy, So Bad, It's Good
, Cult Classic
or just plain bad. On the one hand, it's fun and sexy and full of ridiculous dialogue; on the other hand, it's got a gratuitous brutal rape scene near the end for no discernible reason. It doesn't quite seem to know if it's a comedy or drama or a combination of the two or something else entirely, although some have called it a satire of the human condition and the relationships between women, a non-trashy movie about trashy people, a Stealth Parody
of misogynistic exploitation films, or simply a bad movie
.A direct-to-video sequel was produced in 2011
This film provides examples of:
- Asshole Victim: Andrew Carver whom Nomi viciously beats up because he and his bodyguard raped Molly.
- Baby Trap: James ends up getting engaged to Hope/Penny because he has gotten her pregnant.
- Book Dumb: Nomi's repeated mispronounciation of "Versace."
- Book Ends: The film ends with Nomi catching the same car with the same guy who drove her to Vegas in the beginning. It is implied that she will go back to attacking people and being a hooker, like she did before the events of the movie.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Nomi's primary method of expressing frustration, anger or any other emotion. Given the tone of the film, she winds up doing this a lot.
- Dog Food Diet: Nomi is sheepish about having to eat it once. Cristal, on the other hand, is perfectly open about developing a taste for Doggie Chow.
- Everyone Has Standards: Nomi is perfectly willing to do what came down to live, on-stage lesbian sex, screwing her boss to get a higher position, and pushing the lead dancer down the stairs to get her job, but she won't use ice cubes to make her nipples perky. You have to draw the line somewhere.
- Informed Ability:
- Nomi is supposed to be a brilliant dancer, but if you actually watch her dance she's not all that good.
- She's also supposed to be streetwise, but she really seems naive at times and falls for things someone genuinely streetwise never would have.
- Informed Attractiveness: There is a lot of fuss made about Nomi's hotness, particularly her breasts, which actually aren't that special.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures / Mistaken Nationality: In universe: A businessman named Okita (a Japanese surname) is said to be from Bangkok.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: This movie was originally intended to be a social commentary about women who work in the seedy underbelly of Vegas. That's not the reason most people watch the movie, however.
- Jizzed in My Pants: Zack gets the full treatment when Nomi gives him a lap dance.
- Karmic Rape: Andrew Carver's fate at Nomi's hands.
- Klingon Promotion: Nomi gets the lead in Goddess after shoving Cristal down the stairs. Cristal apparently did the same thing to get her first lead. It's implied that this is pretty much how the showgirl hierarchy works.
- Mama Bear: Julie is sort of this. Although she had already had a lot of tension between her and Angie it seems to have taken Angie upsetting Julie's children that caused her to sabotage Angie and thus break her leg.
- Straw Misogynist: Most men, apparently, only see women as sex objects.
- And then there is Henrietta "Mama" Bazoom who seems to be an in-universe example seeing as what she does at the Cheetah is basically tell misogynistic jokes even though off-stage certain dialogue suggest it's all an act.
- Meaningful Name: Nomi Malone. Because she's trying to hide her past (No Me) and she feels all alone in the world (Malone).
- No Periods, Period: Averted. James doesn't believe Nomi has her period, so she challenges him to check... and he does. With his fingers. She wasn't lying.
- Not So Different: Cristal is proud of Nomi for having lied, cheated, and backstabbed her way to the top because she did the exact same thing to the lead showgirl before.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Nomi kicks the ever-loving shit out of rapist Andrew Carver.
- Real Men Hate Affection: Al's parting line to Nomi ("Must be weird...not to have anyone...come on you.") is intended as a heartfelt farewell.
- Recycled In SPACE: This movie is basically any number of backstage movies (particularly All About Eve and 42nd Street) set in the world of X-rated Vegas revues.