YouTube
YouTube

12 Stripped-Down Facts About Showgirls

YouTube
YouTube

Twenty years ago, the semi-pornographic yet campy Showgirls was released into theaters, starring Saved by the Bell's Elizabeth Berkley as a stripper-turned-Vegas showgirl. The movie tanked at the box office, won seven Razzies, and was so poorly reviewed and received that it ended careers. Years later, through video rentals, the meant-to-be darkly funny film became a cult classic, made a huge profit, and found an audience.

1. KYLE MACLACHLAN WAS “GOBSMACKED” WHEN HE SAW THE MOVIE FOR THE FIRST TIME.

In a 2012 interview with The A.V. Club, Kyle MacLachlan (Zack Carey) talked about the first time he saw Showgirls. “I was absolutely gobsmacked,” he said. “I said, ‘This is horrible. Horrible!’ And it’s a very slow, sinking feeling when you’re watching the movie, and the first scene comes out, and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s a really bad scene.’ But you say, ‘Well, that’s okay, the next one’ll be better.’ And you somehow try to convince yourself that it’s going to get better … and it just gets worse.” 

MacLachlan went on to say he thinks that the movie is “inadvertently funny” but it didn’t turn out the way he expected. He also thinks the wrong material was placed in the hands of the wrong cast and crew, and he accepts it for what it is. “Even Ishtar eventually disappeared. But this one keeps coming back!” he said.

2. QUENTIN TARANTINO LOVES SHOWGIRLS.

In the 1998 book Quentin Tarantino: Interviews, Tarantino applauded Showgirls’s status as a mainstream exploitation film. “The thing that’s great about Showgirls, and I mean great with a capital great, is that only one other time in the last 20 years has a major studio made a full-on, gigantic, big-budget exploitation movie,” explained Tarantino. "Showgirls is the Mandingo of the '90s."

However, Tarantino did have one critique: “The only scene that didn’t work for me at all was where Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan have sex in this pool. But the scene where she lap dances on him ... that was a good scene, man!”

3. FEMINIST GLORIA STEINEM WANTED TO WORK WITH JOE ESZTERHAS.

In his 752-page autobiography, Hollywood Animal, Basic Instinct and Showgirls scribe Joe Eszterhas revealed that, after Showgirls came out, Gloria Steinem approached him about a film project. “Gloria Steinem and I had a meeting about doing a movie about the young Marilyn Monroe,” he wrote. “I took the idea to Paul [Verhoeven] and he’d turned it down. The media had a lot of fun with it, though: Gloria Steinem producing a movie done by the Showgirls guys.”

4. AFTER 20 YEARS, ELIZABETH BERKLEY HAS FINALLY MADE PEACE WITH THE FILM.

Berkley attended a 20th anniversary screening of the film this summer at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where she spoke about the humiliation she felt when the film came out and how painful the backlash was to her, saying that “1995 was such a different time, where taking risks like that was not embraced. They were laughed at, they were shamed, publicly. To be a young girl in the center of that was something that was quite difficult. But I found my own resiliency and my power and my confidence … Tonight I want to thank you guys for giving me this gift of truly getting a full-circle moment of experiencing the joy with you.”

5. ESZTERHAS THINKS THE MOVIE WOULD’VE BEEN A HIT HAD MADONNA BEEN CAST.

Madonna was considered for the part of Cristal Connors, which eventually went to Gina Gershon. Eszterhas wrote in Hollywood Animal that Verhoeven didn’t like “Madoo’s” (his nickname for Madonna) input, so she wasn’t cast. “Had Paul liked Madoo’s script ideas, then the critics would have liked Showgirls better because it would have been Madoo’s script, not mine. Then Showgirls may not have been one of the greatest clinkers of all time.” Drew Barrymore was considered for the Nomi part, but she couldn’t dance. Again, Eszterhas thinks if Madonna and Barrymore were in the film, it would’ve turned out better.

6. ESZTERHAS ENCOURAGED TEENAGERS TO BRING FAKE IDS BECAUSE HE THOUGHT THE MATERIAL WAS MATURE ENOUGH FOR THEM.

One reason Eszterhas became known as “the most reviled man in America” was because when the NC-17 movie was released, he issued a press release telling teens to bring fake IDs. In Hollywood Animal he says, “Had I not told teenagers to bring their fake IDs, I would’ve avoided making a colossal a**hole of myself.” He also explains his motive for the teen IDs: “There was nothing in the movie to harm them, because I didn’t believe that either four-letter words or naked body parts would do any harm to teenagers. Since only those teenagers who look close to 18 have fake IDs, I certainly wasn’t calling for 10- or 14-year-olds to see it. It would be good for teenagers’s values to see Nomi Malone [Berkley] rejecting stardom and money because of the amorality which it cost.”

7. SHOWGIRLS IS THE HIGHEST-GROSSING NC-17 RATED FILM OF ALL TIME.

Though getting slapped with an NC-17 is usually a death knell at the box office, Showgirls was made with that rating in mind. Showgirls has a lifetime gross of $20,350,754, which is good enough for first place. Other NC-17-rated films in recent years such as Shame (2013), Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013), and Killer Joe (another film starring Gina Gershon, 2012), didn’t even come close to Showgirls’s gross. The film went on to earn more than $100 million on home video.

8. ESZTERHAS REGRETS CALLING THE FILM “A DEEPLY RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE.”

When the film came out, Eszterhas said it was “a deeply religious experience,” but in a 2006 interview with Nerve, he clarified his comment. “At the end of the picture, [Nomi] does turn her back on all of it,” he said. “The final image is of her walking away from everything that’s made her a star, and in a sense, she cleanses herself. But to call it a deeply religious experience was not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I’m Hungarian, and Hungarians are noted for doing some singularly stupid things, and I don’t think I would consider myself an especially intelligent Hungarian either, so there you go.”

9. GINA GERSHON WASN’T ALLOWED TO DO A TEXAS ACCENT, BUT DID IT ANYWAY.

As written, Gershon’s character Cristal was from Texas. But in an interview with The Daily Beast, the actress said that Verhoeven was against her speaking with an accent. Instead, she spoke in a Texas twang all day on the set in the hope that nobody would notice. “It drives me crazy,” she said about watching Showgirls. “I see parts where I wish I could loop and do ADR and fix my accent. I have a hard time watching the movie.”

10. PENNY WROTE, DIRECTED, STARRED IN, AND EDITED A SHOWGIRLS SEQUEL.

Rena Riffel, who plays Penny in the movie, made a satirical sequel in 2011 called Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven. The movie features some of the original film’s cast members, and pokes fun at its source material. This year a re-cut version is coming out, with deleted scenes, a shortened version, and new dance numbers. Riffel asked Verhoeven to direct the sequel but “he said it was the most painful, hurtful, negative experience and he would never step foot back in the Showgirls world again,” she told Gawker. “A lot of the casting directors would call me in for a big movie after Showgirls was out just to sit there and get mad at me and say, ‘How could you do that, Rena? You should be ashamed of yourself.’ They didn’t even care if I read my scene for them. Hollywood, it made them mad.” 

11. CARRIE ANN INABA AND ELIZABETH BERKLEY GOT INVOLVED WITH DANCING WITH THE STARS.

Choreographer/dancer Carrie Ann Inaba played Goddess Dancer in the film and was previously an In Living Color Fly Girl, but she danced her way into becoming a judge on Dancing With the Stars. In 2013, Berkley finally got over her fear of dancing (she experienced a lot of ridicule after the film bombed) and competed in the reality series’s 17th season. But she and her partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, were eliminated.

12. JIMMY FALLON SIMULTANEOUSLY PARODIED SHOWGIRLS AND SAVED BY THE BELL.

In February of this year, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon arranged a partial Saved by the Bell reunion with Fallon participating in a sketch featuring Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater), Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Dennis Haskins (Principal Belding), and Berkley (Jessie Spano) reprising their characters from the show. At one point during the self-aware skit, Gosselaar says, “Jimmy going on a date with Nicole Kidman is like Jessie becoming a stripper,” a reference to Berkley’s Showgirls role. Berkley took the swipe in stride and also parodied her famous “I’m so excited, I’m so scared” line from Saved by the Bell.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
iStock
iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
11 Things You Might Not Know About Johann Sebastian Bach
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images

Johann Sebastian Bach is everywhere. Weddings? Bach. Haunted houses? Bach. Church? Bach. Shredding electric guitar solos? Look, it’s Bach! The Baroque composer produced more than 1100 works, from liturgical organ pieces to secular cantatas for orchestra, and his ideas about musical form and harmony continue to influence generations of music-makers. Here are 11 things you might not know about the man behind the music.

1. PEOPLE DISAGREE ABOUT WHEN TO CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY.

Some people celebrate Bach’s birthday on March 21. Other people light the candles on March 31. The correct date depends on whom you ask. Bach was born in Thuringia in 1685, when the German state was still observing the Julian calendar. Today, we use the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the dates by 11 days. And while most biographies opt for the March 31 date, Bach scholar Christopher Wolff firmly roots for Team 21. “True, his life was actually 11 days longer because Protestant Germany adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1700,” he told Classical MPR, “but with the legal stipulation that all dates prior to Dec. 31, 1699, remain valid.”

2. HE WAS THE CENTER OF A MUSICAL DYNASTY.

Bach’s great-grandfather was a piper. His grandfather was a court musician. His father was a violinist, organist, court trumpeter, and kettledrum player. At least two of his uncles were composers. He had five brothers—all named Johann—and the three who lived to adulthood became musicians. J.S. Bach also had 20 children, and, of those who lived past childhood, at least five became professional composers. According to the Nekrolog, an obituary written by Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "[S]tarting with Veit Bach, the founding father of this family, all his descendants, down to the seventh generation, have dedicated themselves to the profession of music, with only a few exceptions."

3. BACH TOOK A MUSICAL PILGRIMAGE THAT PUTS EVERY ROAD TRIP TO WOODSTOCK TO SHAME.

In 1705, 20-year-old Bach walked 280 miles—that's right, walked—from the city of Arnstadt to Lübeck in northern Germany to hear a concert by the influential organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude. He stuck around for four months to study with the musician [PDF]. Bach hoped to succeed Buxtehude as the organist of Lübeck's St. Mary's Church, but marriage to one of Buxtehude's daughters was a prerequisite to taking over the job. Bach declined, and walked back home.

4. HE BRAWLED WITH HIS STUDENTS.

One of Bach’s first jobs was as a church organist in Arnstadt. When he signed up for the role, nobody told him he also had to teach a student choir and orchestra, a responsibility Bach hated. Not one to mince words, Bach one day lost patience with a error-prone bassoonist, Johann Geyersbach, and called him a zippelfagottist—that is, a “nanny-goat bassoonist.” Those were fighting words. Days later, Geyersbach attacked Bach with a walking stick. Bach pulled a dagger. The rumble escalated into a full-blown scrum that required the two be pulled apart.

5. BACH SPENT 30 DAYS IN JAIL FOR QUITTING HIS JOB.

When Bach took a job in 1708 as a chamber musician in the court of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, he once again assumed a slew of responsibilities that he never signed up for. This time, he took it in stride, believing his hard work would lead to his promotion to kapellmeister (music director). But after five years, the top job was handed to the former kapellmeister’s son. Furious, Bach resigned and joined a rival court. As retribution, the duke jailed him for four weeks. Bach spent his time in the slammer writing preludes for organ.

6. THE BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS WERE A FAILED JOB APPLICATION.

Around 1721, Bach was the head of court music for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. Unfortunately, the composer reportedly didn’t get along with the prince’s new wife, and he started looking for a new gig. (Notice a pattern?) Bach polished some manuscripts that had been sitting around and mailed them to a potential employer, Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg. That package, which included the Brandenburg Concertos—now considered some of the most important orchestral compositions of the Baroque era—failed to get Bach the job [PDF].

7. HE WROTE ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST COFFEE JINGLES.

Bach apparently loved coffee enough to write a song about it: "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" ("Be still, stop chattering"). Performed in 1735 at Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig, the song is about a coffee-obsessed woman whose father wants her to stop drinking the caffeinated stuff. She rebels and sings this stanza:

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes
More delicious than a thousand kisses
Milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
And, if someone wants to pamper me,
Ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

8. IF BACH CHALLENGED YOU TO A KEYBOARD DUEL, YOU WERE GUARANTEED TO BE EMBARRASSED.

In 1717, Louis Marchand, a harpsichordist from France, was invited to play for Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and performed so well that he was offered a position playing for the court. This annoyed the court’s concertmaster, who found Marchand arrogant and insufferable. To scare the French harpsichordist away, the concertmaster hatched a plan with his friend, J.S. Bach: a keyboard duel. Bach and Marchand would improvise over a number of different styles, and the winner would take home 500 talers. But when Marchand learned just how talented Bach was, he hightailed it out of town.

9. SOME OF HIS MUSIC MAY HAVE BEEN COMPOSED TO HELP INSOMNIA.

Some people are ashamed to admit that classical music, especially the Baroque style, makes them sleepy. Be ashamed no more! According to Bach’s earliest biographer, the Goldberg Variations were composed to help Count Hermann Karl von Keyserling overcome insomnia. (This story, to be fair, is disputed.) Whatever the truth, it hasn’t stopped the Andersson Dance troupe from presenting a fantastic Goldberg-based tour of performances called “Ternary Patterns for Insomnia.” Sleep researchers have also suggested studying the tunes’ effects on sleeplessness [PDF].

10. HE WAS BLINDED BY BOTCHED EYE SURGERY.

When Bach was 65, he had eye surgery. The “couching” procedure, which was performed by a traveling surgeon named John Taylor, involved shoving the cataract deep into the eye with a blunt instrument. Post-op, Taylor gave the composer eye drops that contained pigeon blood, mercury, and pulverized sugar. It didn’t work. Bach went blind and died shortly after. Meanwhile, Taylor moved on to botch more musical surgeries. He would perform the same procedure on the composer George Frideric Handel, who also went blind.

11. NOBODY IS 100 PERCENT CONFIDENT THAT BACH IS BURIED IN HIS GRAVE.

In 1894, the pastor of St. John’s Church in Leipzig wanted to move the composer’s body out of the church graveyard to a more dignified setting. There was one small problem: Bach had been buried in an unmarked grave, as was common for regular folks at the time. According to craniologist Wilhelm His, a dig crew tried its best to find the composer but instead found “heaps of bones, some in many layers lying on top of each other, some mixed in with the remains of coffins, others already smashed by the hacking of the diggers.” The team later claimed to find Bach’s box, but there’s doubt they found the right (de)composer. Today, Bach supposedly resides in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios