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Jesus, I love Hollywood. I know that in the past I've questioned the judgment of that secret society which controls our entertainment destiny. But seeing the Joe Esterhaz/Paul Verhoven masterwork, Showgirls has shown me the light. Let me just say, for the record, that Showgirls is by far the most cunningly wrought and epically subversive film since the early days of Russ Meyer.

And believe me, I was as surprised as you are. Getting through the ticket line was an experience in itself. I've had an easier time smuggling a suitcase full of methadrine and plastic explosives onto an airplane than getting in to see Showgirls without an ID.

And walking into the theater was a descent of Dantean order. Spread out before me was a sea of baseball caps, brims artfully bent, jammed down tightly over a thousand pointy heads. The packed room was abuzz with the snickers and guffaws of a demographic niche whose linguistic skills seem to have been largely copped from Beavis and Butthead. From the looks of things I figured the sororities were suffering a serious dearth of guests at the Saturday night mixers.

The excitement in the audience was palpable. Chants of "Show us your tits," began as soon as the lights dimmed. The completion of the credits was greeted by an announcement from a few seats back, "Gentlemen, start your boners." I was definitely in the right theater.

Now at this point I should provide a brief plot summary of Showgirls, to satisfy my editors, if nothing else. And believe me I would if I could. But I can't. As far as I could tell, Showgirls has no plot at all. There's hitchiking, some dance sequences, a sex scene, some more dance sequences, a party scene and more hitchiking. Showgirls is narrative film only in the crudest sense -- in that it followed one character through a specific period of linear time. Beyond that, nothing. If Showgirls is bound into a coherent whole at all it isn't through the traditional narrative techniques of conflict, characterization, rising action and resolution but through the leitmotif of breasts. Breasts and breasts alone keeps Showgirls together.

The acting too has an otherworldly quality to it. Elizabeth Berkley plays Nomi Malone, a woman who goes to Las Vegas to become a dancer and who is. Who is...well it's hard to say. Nomi goess through more mood changes in a single scene than my bi-polar roommate does in a month -- without her medication. Leering is the closest thing to a character that anyone else in the film seems to develop, except breasts of course. Breasts tell so much about the inner life of their possessor. Are the nipples erect? Flaccid? Is the chest thrust forward or is it withdrawn? Faces lie, eyes deceive, only breasts are a true windows to the soul.

The overall effect of Showgirls was amazing to behold. A crowd that had entered the theater as a randy, shrieking bunch of post-adolescent boys, stumbled into the brisk evening air broken, whimpering, inconsolate. They were like the man who wishes to be rich and finds himself buried alive in money.

Showgirls is so long, the plot so bewildering and the characters and dialogue so incoherent that all one's attention is focused onto a single object, the female breast. Beyond the breast all is darkness and confusion and so the viewer clings to it as an anchor, a familiar landmark in a barren and threatening terrain. And breasts are displayed so often and so gratuitously that they lose their erotic fascination.

The sex and dancing are choreographed like a fight-scene from a Jean-Claude Van Damme film. Devoid or grace or sensuality, Showgirls has all the erotic charge of a Monster Truck Show. Breasts move beyond fetishisization to the horror which lies outside it -- boredom. At its heart Showgirls is an exercise, not in titillation, but in desentization.

Showgirls also reveals the senselessness of the NC-17 rating. With the exception of a disturbing and totally random rape scene (less graphic than many I've seen on television) Showgirls is an utterly harmless movie. It is less violent than a tennis match and about as sexy as a National Geographic special. The only thing Showgirls is, is naked.

The irony too is that Showgirls owes most of its opening weekend money to being slapped with the NC-17 rating. And despite the much publicized griping of Joe Esterhaz it is my guess that the studio was praying for an NC-17. As an R rated movie about dancers, without a star or special effects, the only marketing hook Showgirls had was being declared verboten. Luckily they got it.

Ah, the wisdom of censorhip. And so I (for probably the only time in my life) agree with Joe Esterhaz. Kids, get your fake ID's and get in line to see Showgirls.


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The Journal of Substance, Wit,and Dangerous Masturbatory Habits