Live! completely nude! Showgirls!

By Anthony Ashley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 25, 1996

Charles C. Labenz
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Anthony Ashley gets up close with his alter ego, Elizabeth Berkeley.


OK, kids, let me just say that "Showgirls" was my favorite movie of 1995. Yes, there were plenty to choose from, like "Batman Forever," "Muriel's Wedding," "Waiting to Exhale" and "PowerDriver" (so that one was shown in VERY selective theaters, like adult ones, but I still liked it), but I thought "Showgirls" was all that!

I don't understand why it got all the bad press. I believe it was Roger Ebert, the man who loved "Sudden Death" starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, who said that this movie attempts to show the life of a Las Vegas showgirl. He said the movie fails to do so. T hat's right; the last time I was in Vegas, Nudes on Ice with special nude guest Roger Ebert, movie critic/real-life showgirl, was the main attraction! Sorry, but I lost respect for him after that "Sudden Death" review.

Yes, the movie only made $20 million dollars, half of what is was made for. But it did show an NC-17 movie can cause a stir at the box office. Did the other NC-17 movie, "Henry and June," make noise or money at the box office like this one? I can hardly r emember it. If you remember it, please call me and tell me about it, thanks.

Why do I love such a smutty movie like this one, you might ask? Am I a breast and thigh man? No, really. Am I a misogynistic dinosaur-type who still thinks a woman's place is in a kitchen? Wrong. My mother would use any Ronco device to slice, dice and mak e juillenne fries out of me if I thought like that! Because I love bad movies? Well, kind of, but not really. The reason I loved "Showgirls" was because it was totally a gay man's movie. (Oh please, like you couldn't tell I was?)

Now maybe all gay men won't agree with me on this notion, but "Showgirls" was really just two gay men who looked like Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon playing out some gay men's fantasies. My best friend and sister-in-crime, Krystahl, and I would love t o play these roles in the Rocky Horror-esque midnight showings. I, of course, would be the up-and-coming diva, Nomi Malone.

Now let me explain my idea before I get too caught up in the rapture of images of lap dancing and performing in a topless revue.

"Showgirls" was nothing but camp, overacting and drama queen material, the three things that entertain most gay men, besides guy-watching. The movie features Nomi, with the attitude of "I'm better than anyone and I'm always right," reflecting the attitud e of most gay men around the world. Then there's Cristal Connors, the star of the Stardust Hotel and Casino's "Goddess" show. She is the epitome of attitude and sass, as my friend Nenutchka says.

The status of the camp and overacting is this: Nomi and Cristal meet, hate each other, try to be best friends, compete to get THE most attention and the same man. Finally, one eventually overcomes the other and pushes her nemesis down a flight of stairs. Yes, you can see this on "Melrose," but that show is about as exciting as watching paint dry as it recycles dinosaurs from Dynasty and the '80s. Enough reference to tired, old, gay, campy pin-ups.

I like to say that this movie is very Bette Davis vs. Joan Crawford-like for the '90s; two divas after the coveted title of Ms. Center of Attention. Now I don't know about you all, but I don't know a gay man in the world who does not want to be the center of attention! If you happen to think that you are a gay man who is nothing like that, call me; the Gay Man's Center of Attention Council would like to talk to you.

This movie is also like the gay "It's a Wonderful Life," "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?," in the sense that when the two sisters (Crawford and Davis) were both respected stars they were extremely jealous of each other and did what they had to do to top ple the other off of her pedestal, like Nomi and Cristal trying to be THE "Goddess." Is it me or do these people take their jobs a little too seriously? Example: Nomi first meets Cristal in her dressing room after the opening night of "Goddess," when Moll y, Nomi's roommate, introduces her as a dancer. Cristal asks Nomi where she dances. The naive Nomi tells her "The Cheetah," a strip club and lap-dancing hot spot. Cristal tells her that she knows about the Cheetah and says, "I know that ain't dancing." Th e drama queen in Nomi comes out when she yells, "Well you don't know s**t!" and stomps out of the room.

This is THE dream for a drama queen, one who thrives by overacting and making his gay life seem like a few scenes out of Guiding Light, Days of Our Lives or such talk shows like the goddess Ricki Lake. To tell off and attempt to "educate" some know-it-al l makes us feel like a fresh, new person.

Eventually, our heroine lands a spot in the lavish production. Cristal gets desperate to keep atop her pedestal and pushes Nomi over the edge, leading Nomi to push Cristal over a flight of stairs. Now, I know every gay man dreams of doing this sort of rev enge to old boyfriends, bitchy friends, gossip mongers, bosses and people with bad fashion sense.

This leads me to my last theory, an every-person-in-the-world-not-just-gay-men theory. This movie is so entertaining and saves you a trip to Vegas. "How," you ask, as I channel to a travel agent? OK, well you get to go to Vegas for a couple of hours witho ut driving 10 hours, trying to find a decent hotel (anything off The Strip? you might as well just stay home!), and fighting traffic. Also, just for you hetero-butch men, you get to go to a strip club and not have to worry about stuffing dead presidents d own a G, plus you get to watch a lap dance and not worry about being thrown out! Next, you get to see a Vegas show, cheesy as it might be, but hey, any Vegas show will run you between $30 and $150 dollars. All this just for the price of rental! How could you pass it up?

You can't! If you don't think you can stomach this movie, find any gay-man-loving camp, Vegas and abundant amounts of spotlight time, and he will make it a worthwhile experience and show you that "Showgirls" can be educational, fun and entertaining.