Nicole Eggert - Entertainment Weekly Article

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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Teatime at the grandly posh St. Regis Hotel in New York. Elegant waitresses in high-collared jackets and smart white gloves float through the dining room as overstuffed businessmen lounge in overstuffed chairs. At a corner table, dressed in the sort of slinky hip huggers and dinky croptop that once made Charo a legend, sits Elizabeth Berkley, star of the saucy new stripper flick Showgirls.
"Sexuality is such a big part of all our lives," she says, sucking cranberry juice through a straw. "People shouldn't be afraid of it. They shouldn't deny it. There's no reason to be uptight about sex and nudity." She looks up at the waitress serving drinks. "Wouldn't you agree?"

"Absolutely," the woman deadpans, utterly unruffled, then floats off to another table.

Certainly Hollywood seems to be taking Berkley's advice these days. Showgirls (opening this weekend with a much-publicized NC-17 rating) is only the first in a slew of upcoming movies exploring the steamy, seamy world of exotic dancing. Also in the works: Striptease, the movie that slipped a $12.5 million tip into Demi Moore's G-string (it's now filming in Florida), and Melissa, in which Baywatch's Nicole Eggert will bare all as a classical ballet dancer-turned-stripper (expected in theaters as early as this winter). Video is cashing in on the act as well, with a bevy of direct-to-vid tapes wriggling into stores soon--Stripteaser, Lap Dancing, and Midnight Tease 2, to name a few--along with Exotica, the arty strip-club drama from Canada that got critics all hot and bothered at festivals last year. 

Showgirls should be the raciest of the bunch by far, with lesbian love scenes, explicit dialogue, and enough full-frontal nudity to have MPAA president Jack Valenti reaching for his heart pills. The plot isn't exactly groundbreaking--it's All About Eve in pasties, with Berkley playing an ambitious stripper who dethrones a Vegas diva--but as the first major studio film to be released with an NC-17 rating since 1990's Henry and June, it's being watched very closely. Can a $40 million NC-17 movie make money in today's conservative marketplace? Does the stripper-movie trend have, um, legs? And what's up with Hollywood, anyway--why is it suddenly so anxious to take it all off?

"Sometimes audiences are fascinated with movies about airplane crashes, sometimes audiences are fascinated with movies about people growing very big or very small," says Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven, who fascinated audiences in 1992 by filming Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs in Basic Instinct. "Now we have movies about strippers. Who knows why? The only thing I can say is that we're moving into a much more repressive sexual climate in this country. And you can't repress sexuality. It's silly to try. It comes out anyway."

Showgirls writer Joe Eszterhas (who also penned Basic Instinct) sees the trend in more specific terms. "Perhaps, to a certain degree, these movies are a response to AIDS," he says. "There's a line in Showgirls that explains the whole thing. Stripping is like having sex without really having sex; it's like hooking without really hooking. It's safe sex for the '90s. And I'm not just talking about the movies. It's a trend in general. It's sweeping the nation."

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