Author Archives: spiegelmama

Flashdance as a rough draft for Showgirls

Nice move, breakdancer

Seriously.

Flashdance (1983), a Slumber Party Movies favorite, is a complex movie to contemplate. When I watched it as a child, all I saw was the dancing (and the ice skating), but it seems a lot creepier now. And I figured out why: Joe Eszterhas wrote it.

It’s pretty obvious that Eszterhas hates women. His filmography includes lady-lawyer-in-distress dramas Jagged Edge (1985) and Music Box (1989), lady-FBI-agent-in-distress lemon Betrayed (1988), widow-in-distress misfire Nowhere to Run (1993), fictional snuff porn Sliver (1993), hooker murder porn Jade (1995), and the truly execrable Basic Instinct (1992). But his greatest achievement in misogyny is Showgirls (1995).

Lick that pole, Nomi.

Dancing tastes like Windex and herpes.

Watching Flashdance again after seeing Showgirls was a revelation for me, and not a happy one. Some of the parallels:

  • The Dancer: Ingenue who is not as innocent as she seems. Flashdance‘s Alex is a girl without a family who holds down two jobs, only one of which involves lingerie. Showgirls‘ Nomi is a girl without a family who holds down two jobs, both of which involve lingerie (for the first few moments, anyway). Lady loners making their way in a man’s world, nipples akimbo.

    Backlit Alex from Flashdance

    It’s lonely on the stage.

  • The Boss: Both films feature a creepy boss who fucks The Dancer. Flashdance‘s Nick owns the steel mill where Alex does not take off her clothes, so he pressures her into taking off her clothes after work instead. Showgirls‘ Zach is a lying pimp who owns nothing but terrible clothes and deluded whores, but at least he buys Nomi flowers that one time, right?
  • The Best Friend: In Flashdance/Showgirls, the poor innocent-ish Best Friend gets sexually assaulted. In only one of these movies, however, does the Best Friend get hospitalized as a result. Guess which one.

    Molly the Best Friend

    It does not pay to be nice to Nomi.

  • The Rival Boss: In Flashdance, the owner of a sleazier strip club (where the girls actually strip instead of just dancing in their underwear) tries to recruit Alex, but she resists. In Showgirls, Nomi actually works for the Rival Boss first, essentially hooking in the VIP room until she lands the coveted (topless) chorus line slot at the casino.

    Rival Boss from Flashdance

    Rival Boss from Flashdance gets grabby.

What’s distressing to me is how far The Dancer fell between 1983 and 1995. While the outline is the same for both movies, everything has been degraded or escalated: Instead of aspiring to be a ballet dancer, Nomi aspires to be a topless showgirl; the scummy job descends from dancing in lingerie to lap dancing; the Best Friend goes from being groped to being violently raped. Little wonder that at the end of Showgirls, The Dancer’s victory is not holding her own at a ballet audition and learning to accept favors, but beating a rapist unconscious and getting revenge on a suitcase thief.

Nomi with a knife

She will cut you.

Maybe Showgirls is a sequel to Flashdance, and Alex turned into a hooker after not getting into the ballet company. Maybe the world is that terrible. Maybe everyone has to eat dog food now and again. I can live with that. I totally love Dog Chow.

Shirley you jest

Surely there cannot be a movie starring Cindy Williams. No, really, there was — and stop calling her Shirley. My sister and I had this on VHS; it’s a charmer called Spaceship (1982), and it’s so eternal that I can only find it on IMDB under its alternative title, The Creature Wasn’t Nice.

If you can find it, I do recommend watching it. It’s not conventionally good, but there are some great shlocko lines and truly amateur writing. Also, Leslie Nielsen plays the captain, so there’s that.

Trapped by “Trapped in the Closet”

Does R. Kelly’s epic “Trapped in the Closet” series count as a slumber party movie? I think it does, when IFC runs them all in a row. So I’ll share my Storified live tweet:

Trapped, Part 3: The live tweetfest · Storify.

My favorite character is Pimp Lucius, for reasons both outlined in the Storify and demonstrated in this video.

Somebody grab Lucille and turn her ass around, would you?

Classy out the assy

In a lovely case of life imitating art, the guy who plays the creepy boss in Flashdance turns out to be a scumbag. Allegedly.

Michael Nouri and Jennifer Beals from Flashdance

He doesn’t look creepy at all.

You’ve made me so happy, Alex Karras

Oh dear. One of my very favorite comic actors, Alex Karras, is on the roof and is not coming down. His family has been losing him bit by bit, but it seems the poor guy is, as one friend of his said, “in transition.”

Karras is probably best known as the dad from Webster, or maybe Mongo in Blazing Saddles, but to me, he’ll always be the closeted, then freed, bodyguard from Victor Victoria. God, how I love Victor Victoria.

As “Squash” Bernstein said to King Marchand:

As Alex said to James Garner: You've made me so happy.

Good night, sweet prince.

Animated GIF scrounged from Strange how you know inside me.

I didn’t raise you to be a cheerleader!

I’m going to sleep with truck drivers and get crabs.

Holy cow, the 1980s were rad. Witness parody movies like Student Bodies and Pandemonium. No, really, witness it.

Edit, Oct. 9: Embedded video.

Workin’ 9 to 5

Good morning, and happy Monday! May your job be not quite as horrible as Dolly’s. There’s a better life – you read about, don’t you?