Showgirls: VIP Edition Paul Verhoeven

Showgirls: VIP Edition Paul Verhoeven
In a world where so much of what the culture industry produces is disposable, it only makes sense that a piece of true artistic trash be elevated to the status of art — where the very process of enjoying a horrible disaster somehow becomes an act of art itself, liberating what was supposed to be the most erotic work ever produced by Hollywood, allowing it to blossom as the greatest post-modern comedy of the 20th century. At least that's the thesis of David Schmader, who started hosting Showgirls screenings several years ago, and provides a delicious commentary on this special VIP edition of Paul Verhoeven's 1995 train wreck. Schmader's commentary — and in fact Showgirls itself — is the ultimate guilty pleasure: marvel at aspiring showgirl Nomi (Saved By the Bell's Elizabeth Berkley) as she "dances" epileptically. "Dancing ain't fucking," she's told several times — well, she can't do that either, as is disastrously demonstrated not once but twice with "what's he doing here" star Kyle Maclachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City). As Schmader aptly points out, only the fabulously camp Gina Gershon seems to have any idea what movie she's actually in — and that includes director Verhoeven, a talented, smart guy who's made much better movies than this. In fact, Showgirls is the greatest example of a large group of responsible adults consistently making the worst possible choices at every possible opportunity. It's such a dog that one can't help but wonder how it all happened. We won't get that answer here: there's participation on the DVD from no one involved: not the star, nor director, nor writer Joe Eszterhas (who famously was paid two million dollars for his script about an alien race of topless women who dance like poorly programmed robots). Instead, we get strangely straight-faced lap-dancing lessons from "the ladies of Scores," and bizarre add-ons like playing cards, shot glasses, and an extremely unsexy laminated poster of Berkley on which to play "pin the pasty on the showgirl." But there's something strangely co-opted about this big box, big budget kitsch reissue — ten years after the fact, embracing Showgirls as the depth of trash culture seems like your mom telling you she likes that Lil Jon single — it seems creepy and co-opted. The dirty little thrill was the whole point; now that it's accompanied with parlour games and blindfolds, it just doesn't seem as naughty. Plus: Showgirls diary, trivial track, more. (MGM)