September 20, 1995
From Showbiz Correspondent Paul Vercammen
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It's showtime for "Showgirls." (1.4M QT movie)
The movie will hit the theaters Friday with its stars wearing so very little, and stirring up so much controversy with every pelvic thrust, that it has been branded with an NC-17 rating. Its writer says teenagers should sneak in to see it for their own good, but some critics say no one should see it.
"What it is about, at its core, is a young woman making very moral choices. And my suspicion is young women will love this movie as much as they loved 'Flashdance,'" said screenwriter Joe Eszterhas.
Eszterhas, who also wrote "Flashdance," combined with his "Basic Instinct" partner, director Paul Verhoeven, in the creation of this, their latest racy spectacle.
But what Eszterhas calls a morality tale is being called immoral by some media watchdogs, including many who haven't even seen the film.
The film is being marketed by MGM/United Artists for its prurient interests, for its pornographic qualities, and for, as one newspaper called it, its wall-to-wall nudity. Controversy has stuck to "Showgirls" like glitter. The story of sex, drugs and the rock 'n' roll set in Las Vegas was teased with a steamy trailer and handed out in video stores.
"Showgirls" aspires to take NC-17, a kiss-of-death rating at the box office for other films, and turn it into a financial bonanza. Security will reportedly be beefed up at many theaters, in case underage moviegoers follow Eszterhas' urging that they try to sneak in.
"What I want to say to teenagers is, 'Do everything you can to see this movie, use your false I.D.'s and do what ever it is you have to do," Eszterhas said. "Because not only will you love the rock 'n' roll parts of it and the dance parts of it, but the message, which is you don't have to sell your soul in order to stay alive, is one that will echo in the hearts of teenagers everywhere."
Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, has a very different view. "If minors were knowingly admitted to this film, if I were local prosecutor or police chief, I would be hard pressed not to arrest the persons responsible for it," he said.
In "Showgirls," Elizabeth Berkley, the former "Saved By The Bell" star on TV, plays Nomi. She tries the jump from erotic dancer to sequined prancer in a chorus line.
"Just as Nomi, my character in 'Showgirls,' gets turned on by things that challenge her or obstacles or other hurdles to overcome, those are things that I welcome and I love that," Berkley said. How did she go from "Saved By The Bell" to this? "That was three and a half years ago. In the meantime a lot of things have changed," she said.
Gina Gershon plays the showgirl diva who Nomi would love to see take a dive. Gershon argues "Showgirls" may be applauded by one of Hollywood's harshest critics. "This is a perfect Bob Dole movie. It truly is," she said. "It's basically a morality tale. It's all about morals and values. It just happens to be done topless."
Is this simply an ethical dilemma in a G-string? Public tryouts begin in theaters Friday.
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