Category Archives: Showgirls

Flashdance as a rough draft for Showgirls

Nice move, breakdancer


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.

Way to go, Ned!

While I was researching for an upcoming post comparing Flashdance and Showgirls, I saw that Slap Shot (1977) was on that minute. I turned the channel and they were all fighting on the ice. But fighting led to…

Everything about this scene is magic. That marching band deserved an Oscar for best soundtrack. Happy Friday, y’all!

More career development lessons from Showgirls

Gina Gershon as Cristal from Showgirls

Gina Gershon, you old whore, you.

As I said in my previous post, Showgirls (1995) is full of career development advice. Fifteen years ago, when I was the young woman fighting my way up the corporate ladder, it was important for me to learn from Nomi’s actions that you sometimes have to push an old whore down the stairs to get ahead. But I am older and more fragile in the hip area these days. Can I still learn from Nomi and Cristal?

The answer is absolutely YES. Now that I am the old whore blocking the advancement of other, younger working women, I can look to Cristal’s example. The lesson is a little more subtle, though. What you must do is get the young hookers on your side, so that even if they do end up pushing you down the stairs, they will at least feel bad about it. Cristal tried to bond with Nomi over their shared love of booze and dog food, but got way too honest.

The lesson is: You cannot tell a young whore that she is a whore. She thinks she’s a dancer, or a sex worker, or a contractor. Honor that distinction or you might have your next bonding session in a hospital bed.

Pushy broads get ahead

Hello! Welcome to Slumber Party Movies, where a group of friends spends even more time analyzing the terrible movies we love than we spent watching them.

For example, I spend a lot of time thinking about Showgirls (1995). Not because I enjoy my porn extra-talky and full of old people, but because it contains a surprising amount of life lessons, ones I have put in use in my own career.

Whore job interview

Elizabeth Berkley interviews with Gina Gershon

The most important lesson I learned concerns the tense relationship between up-and-coming whore Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) and queen whore Cristal (Gina Gershon). Cristal has the lead in some stupid revue that Nomi for some reason really wants to star in, and Cristal won’t just nicely step aside. Then the old whore makes the crucial mistake of walking down the staircase in front of the young whore. One savvy career move later and boom! Cristal has a broken hip, and Nomi has the lead!

The lesson here: Sometimes you have to push an old whore down the stairs if she won’t get out of the way.