I wish I could tell you exactly how many times I have seen the movie Showgirls. I would guess it has topped 100 times, making it the movie that I have watched more than any other! I am not sure this film really deserves this spot on my list of most watched movies. I saw it originally 15 years ago on opening weekend in downtown Santa Barbara -- around September 22nd 1995. I tried to find my original movie stub -- I know I have it somewhere! I assume it opened up in Los Angeles a week or so before Santa Barbara but I do know that I saw it before I had read any reviews. This was way before I had a cell phone, way before myspace and facebook, and I didn't even have my own computer with the internet at this point, so I hadn't even heard my friends' reactions to the movie before I went and saw it for myself. I went to see it with my friend Stephanie. We both had a healthy love of irony and loved to make fun of just about anything. I didn't really have high hopes for the movie, but I had loved Basic Instinct. This was the next movie with the powerhouse pairing of director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. The screenplay cost $2 million, which is hard to believe after watching the movie even just once! It is possibly one of the worst scripts ever made into a big budget film! But after the huge success of Basic Instinct, I am sure the producers were expecting to have another huge hit on their hands. Eszterhas had also written Jade, released the same year as Showgirls and Sliver, which was released 2 years earlier. I would not consider any of these scripts amazing pieces of literature but they all worked to a certain extent as entertaining movies. For some reason everything just went perfectly wrong to make Showgirls one of the best worst movies of all time. Most of my favorite cult films were made in the 1970s and 1980s. Showgirls sort of goes into its own category. I think most of the cult movies that I like are actually well made movies. I would never say that a movie made by John Waters is actually bad -- I think they are all amazing films, although I am sure many people consider them to be bad. But I think almost everyone can agree that Showgirls is simply a very bad movie. Still, there is something about that that is endearing -- something that makes us all fall in love with Nomi and Cristal and the rest of the cast. I still can't get enough of this movie!
I saw Showgirls twice during its original theatrical run. I bought the movie when it was released on VHS and have probably watched it a minimum of 3 to 4 times a year for the last 15 years. It was the kind of movie that I would even watch when it showed up on cable TV even though I already owned a copy! I did try to avoid the edited version on regular TV or VH1, because although I could live without ever having to watch the rape scene again, I did like to watch the regular NC-17 version, the way the movie was meant to be seen. Showgirls does remain the highest grossing NC-17 movie, but it was not a success at the box office and was obviously hated by the critics. Through word of mouth though, it ended up being very successful as a rental and for puchase on VHS. The VH1 version edited out some of the more sexually graphic scenes and placed digitally enhanced black bras and panties over the scenes with nudity. They even dubbed many of Nomi's lines in the movies. Elizabeth Berkley refused to dub the edited version so another voice actress is heard in the edited version. There were a couple of years when I watched the movie about once a week. One of my roommates in 1998 and 1999 was just as obsessed with the movie as I was. We sort of used the movie as our therapy. Whenever we were a bit sad or depressed we turned to Showgirls for help. We often said to each other something like, "Tonight is a Showgirls kind of night." We would often cancel our plans to just stay home and watch Showgirls. Sometimes we would watch the movie while we were getting ready to go out. Basically, it was a rare occasion when the movie was not in one of our VCRs. I upgraded to the DVD when the VIP Edition was released in 2004. The deluxe box set came with shot glasses, playing cards and a play along with the movie drinking game. The deluxe DVD also came with some fancy bonus features -- a pop up video style trivia track and an audio commentary with David Schmader. The DVD was released without the box in 2007. I managed to catch the movie 3 more times in the theater over the years. I went to a couple of the Peaches Christ Midnight Mass performances over the years and I even went and saw it at the Metreon in San Francisco for a special re-release. I normally don't like to hear somebody talking who is sitting behind me in the theater, but for this movie I love it. During the re-release some guy behind me basically had a comment for every single scene in the movie. He was basically having a conversation with the cast and had every line memorized, and I loved it! I kind of wish MGM had tracked him down to do the audio commentary.
It's time once again for drag queen and performer Peaches Christ's wild and wondrous cult film screening series, the singular, epic entertainment fest known as Midnight Mass!
Though we have been informed that this is Midnight Mass' final summer season at the Bridge Theater, its home for the past 12 years, Midnight Mass has clearly left an indelible mark on both San Francisco's cult and its overall cultural scene, one that will reverberate through the city's history for all time. In the meantime, we'd all better get out there and catch our last chance to see Peaches in her native environs at the Bridge. Here I speak with Ms. Christ about what's to come at this final season of Midnight Mass, her future projects, plus her role in alter ego Joshua Grannell's upcoming feature film, which is sure to be a huge hit, All About Evil! Click here for more info on Midnight Mass, which starts July 10 and runs weekends through August 22. Tickets are on sale now! You can also click here to read a previous interview I conducted with PC. Read on right here for all the exciting news.
Miss Ess: So, what new shows will debut this year at Midnight Mass?
Peaches Christ: For our 12th and final season, I'm thrilled to say we have a bunch of stuff we're doing for the first time including Roller Boogie, The Exorcist, Heathers, and Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark. It gets harder every year to dig up new and exciting cult films we haven't programmed sometime in the past twelve years.
Amoeba Music and Phil Blankenship are proud to present some of our film favorites at Los Angeles’ last full-time revival movie theater. See movies the way they're meant to be seen - on the big screen and with an audience!
Saturday September 13
1995, 131 min
New Beverly Cinema
7165 W Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
With special guest Rena Riffel (Penny) and others TBA in person, schedules permitting!
I was treated to such a glorious sight on Saturday night at Midnight Mass' Showgirls screening.
Showgirls is pretty fascinating. Isn't it obvious that while Gina Gershon realizes the movie is pure camp and revels in it, Elizabeth Berkley has absolutely no idea what's going on and just thinks she's killing it? Crazy, huh?
I just can scarcely believe a movie like this got made in the last 15 years, movie making being as difficult as it is. Someone out there clearly thought it was a great idea though! And thank goodness they did.
At Midnight Mass during the pre-show we were treated to some reenactments of scenes from the film, one of which was the scene where Nomi (Berkley) and Cristal (Gershon) bond over their love of....yes, dog food....and during which Martini, as Nomi, actually ATE dog food on stage! Yikes. There were many more moments of horror throughout the pre-show, during which tampons were thrown on the audience and audience members were willingly assaulted by a freakish posse of lap dancers.