By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Poor Elizabeth Berkley. She went from class brain on a Saturday-morning kiddie show to Showgirls’ world-class ho Nomi Malone, a G-stringed Eve Harrington with the lofty goal of going from hooker to stripper to topless showgirl. Now MGM is trying to turn Showgirls into a Rocky Horror Picture Show–style cult classic.
Of course, Nomi Malone is no Dr. Frank- N-Furter, despite looking like a transvestite. And though she didn’t know how to say Versace, boy could she lick her own breast.
At heart, Showgirlsis nothing more than a misogynistic porno-without-penetration that director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas tried to pass off as a commentary on feminism: menstruation jokes. Gratuitous sex. A disturbing rape scene. Good times. After we were duped into seeing the movie when it was first released, and paying $10 to watch it again last week at the Vista — L.A.’s first interactive showing — throwing popcorn at the screen felt like sweet revenge. And when a movie has a fat lady flashing her breasts way, way too many times while spouting jokes like “What do you call that useless piece of skin around a twat? A woman,” you can at least get one good guffaw out of it. Besides, with Berkley’s Brillo-pad hair, overdrawn lip liner and Edward Scissorhands acrylics — not to mention lines like “It must be nice not to have somebody cum on you” — Showgirls was always just a wire hanger away from being a legit camp classic.
Before the screening, we wasted an eternity in front of the Vista’s red carpet, waiting with Versays on the tips of our tongues for some of the actors who had enough humor to show up, including Lin Tucci (Henrietta “Mamma” Bazoom, the aforementioned flasher), Patrick Bristow (the choreographer who never danced) and Rena Riffel (impregnated dancer Penny). Porn star and ex–gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey was also in attendance; this must’ve been like Citizen Kane for her. The evening’s MC and drag queen bee Jackie Beat was much funnier inside, where he randomly picked on a woman for wearing a brown velour jogging suit, a spat that ended in verbal bitchslapping: “At least my hair is real — and I have real breasts and a real vagina . . .” (Ladies, ladies, save it for when Nomi pushes Crystal down the stairs.) The only trivia tidbit came from a moviegoer who revealed that Drew Barrymore was originally thought of for the lead — honey, we all knew that. Of course, there were a few people only too eager to mimic the cheesy choreography, including the famous crisscrossed hands flashed in front of the face (think Fosse meets Solid Gold).
Goody bags were filled with props and instructions on how to play along with the scenes. We threw fake bills during the stripteases, waved a gold-lamé scarf and flashlight for the “Goddess” show numbers, and shouted “Hairpiece” whenever Kyle MacLachlan (looking more like the fifth Beatle than a sleazoid hotel director) appeared onscreen. There were so many noisemakers going off every time Nomi “hits, kicks or maims someone” that the theater sounded like a castanet party. And it got so loud toward the end, during the possessed sex scene — where Berkley writhes in a pool as if Father Karras were exorcising the smutty spirit from her — the floor practically imploded from all the foot stomping. Too bad no one yelled out “Call Nomi 9-1-1” to poor best friend Molly (Gina Ravera) when she unknowingly walked into a gangbang. Yeah, good times.
Just before the screening, Bristow stood up to defend Berkley, who he said worked her, uh, ass off for the movie but got the brunt of the backhandedness. “To Elizabeth Berkley!” he proclaimed, raising his hand. To Elizabeth Berkley.
It was late afternoon when the first man and woman on horseback showed up. We were eight grown-ups and four children gathered at Gray’s Peak group camp near Fawnskin planning to hike later under the full moon. Mara had been singing “What a Wonderful World” while Michael played guitar; Susan and Mark were playing paddle tennis; I had just opened another beer and was preparing to settle in the shade with Saturday’s Los Angeles Timeswhen the riders turned into our camp.
The woman spoke first. “Have any of you seen a little boy?” We hadn’t. She went on to explain that a 9-year-old had wandered away from his parents that morning at the Hanna Flat Campground, just over the ridge from where we were. They thought he was lost somewhere in the woods. We promised to keep an eye out.
After the riders left, we speculated on where a child could have gone in this wilderness. We looked up into the mountains and suddenly saw them differently: the deep ravines, the slopes thick with pine trees, so many of them rust-colored from bark-beetle infestation. We looked at the kids and tried not to think about it.
Mara went off on her own and called the boy’s name, David, David! Meanwhile, Mark took his and Mara’s children, 5-year-old Zora, a storybook beauty, and Dante, an 8-year-old with deep-blue eyes and long eyelashes, for a hike. Lene and her 6-year-old, Jasper, went with Dan and his 4-year-old, Charlie, in the car to find a place to swim.
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