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Welcome to Vegas: why the 90s just wasn’t ready for Showgirls

“If all lap-dancers get as carried away as Nomi does, I’ll bet they’re constantly seeing a chiropractor about their backs.” –Roger Ebert on Showgirls

When I was younger I remember seeing Showgirls on television. I remember the scene where Nomi performs at the Stardust for the very first time, and I had a vague memory of the intensely terrifying near-end part with Andrew Carver going into my re-watch this past week on Netflix. Granted I had no idea what the hell was going on back then, but I did know I definitely wasn’t supposed to be watching this NC-17 movie about a stripper/hooker/dancer at the ripe young age of 7 (sorry, mom and dad!).

Flash forward 20 years later, having re-watched the film twice and just now buffing up on my Showgirls history, I was shocked to find out the $45 million budget film received such scrutiny: bombing at the box office, Elizabeth Berkley—America’s Saved by the Bell good girl gone bad—being shunned from Hollywood, not to mention the movie has a whopping 4.5 iMDb rating! But the movie is about dancing in Vegas, the pornalized capital of the world. What did people expect?

If anything, Showgirls conveys maybe a stereotypical male-obsessed fantasy portrayed through the gaze of Paul Verhoeven. But is it really? Or is it a quite accurate portrayal of the male-dominated power dynamics of a very real Las Vegas “dance” scene?

And OK, the dialogue was a bit over-the-top, but there is a reason why this film has accumulated its cult following (and why it’s Mama RuPaul’s favorite!): it’s just really f*cking badass. Maybe the 90s just wasn’t ready for Showgirls’ realness it had to offer, or maybe it was Verhoeven’s need to show tons of boobs and tongue every five seconds that turned everybody off (but shouldn’t they have been turned on?!?). Regardless of what critics had to say, it doesn’t suck*!

*If you got the reference  I will give you $20.

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Kaitlin Duffy is a writer from Cleveland. When she's not blogging or pondering the great complexities of the world and outer space, she is finding rare vinyl steals, visiting new places, laughing often, Instagramming everything in sight, watching movies, or working on her first feature Port de Cleve.