Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Showgirls (1995)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Showgirls (1995)

In director Paul Verhoeven's erotic show-biz, big-budget sexploitation drama (teamed up again with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas) - a misogynistic, guilty-pleasure adult film with some unfortunate depictions of the mistreatment of women; it was the first attempt of Hollywood to mass market a studio film with an NC-17 rating (since the failure of Caligula (1979)), although it was a tremendous flop (with domestic box-office of only $20 million from a production budget of $45 million). Verhoeven already had a reputation for RoboCop (1987) and Basic Instinct (1992). See Sex in Films for uncensored version

In subsequent years, the notorious 1990s film, with a soul-less, exploitative plot and mostly repugnant characters, regained some of its status as a deliberately campy and cult film, and found an audience among cult film-goers (although it reportedly destroyed the career of star Elizabeth Berkley, earlier noted for her role in the late 80s TV show Saved By the Bell). The film was considered senseless, violent, and actually sexually boring or desensitizing, although it contained lots of gratuitous nudity.

It remains the highest-grossing NC-17 rated film of all-time with almost double the box-office take of its next major competitor, Henry & June (1990) at $11.6 million. A 15th Anniversary DVD version, a "Sinsational" Edition, was released to commemorate its longevity.

It had lots of controversial content - and was loaded with very frequent and rampant nudity (almost to the point of being boring), sexuality, notorious dialogue, unintentionally cheesy acting and campy sleaze in a drama about the sex industry - it supposedly provided an uncensored look at the backstage show-biz world of Las Vegas strip clubs and shows.

  • in the film's opening sequence, uneducated drifter Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley), purportedly with no family or friends and carrying a single suitcase, hitchhiked from somewhere 342 miles north of Las Vegas; she was aided by a pickup-truck driver named Jeff (Dewey Weber), but remained wary and pulled out her switchblade knife to protect herself when he urged: "You can sit a little bit closer if you want"; Nomie told him she was going to Vegas, not to win or gamble, but to "dance"
  • once they arrived in Vegas, the 23 year-old aspiring dancer/actress was fooled into believing he would help her find a job in a casino, but took off without her and stole her suitcase; distraught, Nomi was befriended by a nearby stranger, identified as casino costume designer-seamstress Molly Abrams (Gina Ravera), who invited the abandoned, angry and upset Nomi to be her roommate in her trailer, when Nomi told her she had no family or friends, or place to go

Casino Costume Seamstress Molly Abrams (Gina Ravera)
Nomi - Wary of Pickup Truck Driver Jeff On The Drive to Vegas
  • six weeks later, Molly invited Nomi to accompany her to her costume-fitting job at Las Vegas' Stardust hotel, to go backstage and then watch the show; Nomi was thrilled and entranced by the energetic male and topless female dancers in the hot volcanic-themed show titled "Goddess", especially new headliner Cristal Connors (Gina Gershon), a bi-sexual diva dancer ("She's dazzling, she's exciting, And she's very, very sexy")
  • after the show, Cristal was congratulated by the show director Tony Moss (Alan Rachins) and the Stardust's entertainment director Zack Carey (Kyle MacLachlan), Cristal's boyfriend; Molly urged Nomi to meet the diva performer Cristal in her private dressing room after the show; after meeting Cristal, Nomi was asked where she danced; when she answered the topless Cheetahs Club, Cristal derisively denounced her sleazy place of work as a cover for prostitution: "If it's at the Cheetah, It's not dancing, I know that much"; Nomi was insulted ("You don't know s--t") and stormed off; nonetheless, Cristal appeared sexually attracted to Nomi
  • instead of going to work at the Cheetahs, the upset Nomi and Molly went dancing at the Crave Club, where she became acquainted while briefly dancing with the club's dread-locked black bouncer, James Smith (Glenn Plummer); the night ended with Nomi's arrest for instigating a fight after she kneed him in the groin for insulting her style of dancing ("You got potential. I could teach you") - and a brawl broke out; he bailed her out the next morning, and she was still angry at him: "I don't need nobody to teach me to dance"; he called her a "bad-ass" and told her she was responsible for his firing: "My head hurts, my d--k hurts, And you got me fired from my f--kin' job"; she wanted nothing to do with him
Cheetahs Topless Lounge Characters

Manager Al Torres (Robert Davi)

New Dancer Penny (Rena Riffel)

Club Jokester Henrietta 'Mama' Bazoom (Lin Tucci)
  • Nomi's no-show at work threatened her job, but she was back the next night as one of the topless, pole-clinging dancers at the low-class Cheetahs Club; part of the night's entertainment was provided by buxom Henrietta 'Mama' Bazoom (Lin Tucci), known as the "Queen of bazooms!", who told dirty jokes on stage, and whose performance-trick was to flex her arms to lower her bustier and expose her breasts; the manager of the club, Al Torres (Robert Davi), detailed requirements for a lap dance to new girl Penny (Rena Riffel), whose real name was Hope: "Fifty bucks a pop, you take 'em in the back. Touch and go. They touch, they go. You can touch them. They cannot touch you...Now if they come, that's okay. If they take it out and come all over you, call the bouncer, unless he gives you a big tip. If he gives you a big tip, it's okay. You got that?"
  • Al criticized Nomi for her lame excuses for missing work and then propositioned her: "I'm gettin' real tired of your s--t, kid. If you want to last longer than a week, you'll give me a blow job. First, I get you used to the money, then I make you swallow"
Nomi Dancing Onstage at the Cheetahs With Zack and Cristal in the Audience
  • watching Nomi (with stage name Heather) strip topless and then pole dance from the audience were Zack Carey and cocaine-using girlfriend Cristal, who suggested: "I'll buy her for you"; afterwards, the reluctant Nomi was paid a top price of $500 dollars to perform a private and extended lap dance for Zack - Cristal's gift to him, while she watched from afar; it was Cristal's way of humiliating Nomi and proving that she was 'prostituting' herself at the Cheetahs; it ended up being a totally-nude, frenzied, hip-grinding, orgasmic experience for Zack, and seemed to also turn Cristal on; James was lurking around in the club and sneaked a look at the lap dance from the room's entrance before he was told to leave; after the performance, Cristal reacted: "That was fun, wasn't it?" and Zack blurted out: "You're such a bitch!"
The Threesome Voyeuristic Lap Dancing For Zack While Cristal Watched
  • the next morning, James visited Nomi in the trailer park, and cautioned that she was more talented than the average stripper: ("You got more natural talent when you dance than anybody I've ever seen...You burn when you dance"), but he felt that she was simply "prostituting" herself at the Cheetahs: ("You got some s--t to learn. Dancing ain't f--kin'...You dance like when you f--ked that guy last night....You f--k 'em without f--king 'em. That's what you do. Well, it ain't right. You got too much talent for it to be right"); she rebuffed him and told him to leave
  • during one night's performance, Nomi was approached by Zack's assistant Phil Newkirk (Greg Travis) from the Stardust Hotel, offering her an audition for an open spot in the chorus line of the "Goddess" show; Nomi suspected that Cristal was behind the invitation to try-out ("She sent you, didn't she?")
  • the next morning at the showgirl audition, the crass and crude Tony Moss (Alan Rachins) called Nomi a "Pollyanna" (due to her discreet costume) before introducing himself: ("Okay, ladies. I'm Tony Moss. I produce this show. Some of you have probably heard that I'm a prick - I am a prick. I got one interest here, and that's the show. I don't care whether you live or die. I want to see ya dance and I want to see ya smile. I can't use you if you can't smile, I can't use you if you can't show, I can't use you if you can't sell. Let me take a look at ya, spread out!"); Nomi ran backstage and removed her outfit to dance in her purple bra and black thong panties underwear
  • during a line-up of dancers, he made insulting comments about one of the dancer's stacked chest: ("Marty, look at these tits. What are these, watermelons? This is a stage, babe, not a patch. See ya"); he also criticized another dancer's prominent ears, and another's weight ("Come back when you've f--ked some of this baby fat off. See ya!")
  • after a brief practice of the dance routine with a choreographer, Nomi noticed the arrival of Cristal to quietly watch while sitting in the audience section; Moss picked out only three of the dancers to remain - Nomi and two others, Dancer (Bethany Chesser) and Yoga Dancer (Maria Diaz)
  • the threesome were then ordered to go topless: ("Okay, show me your tits. I got a topless show. Let me see your tits") and to wildly dance: "Come on, ladies! Sell! Sell your bodies!"; Moss summarily dismissed the other two dancers, and then proceeded to make some nasty comments about Nomi's nipples - and humiliated her by requesting that she ice her nipples to make them harder: ("You got somethin' wrong with your nipples?...They're not stickin' up. Stick 'em up....Play with 'em a little bit. Pinch 'em a little. You want me to do it for ya, I'll do it...I'm erect. Why aren't you erect? Here, put some ice on 'em"); after an outburst, Nomi stormed off; Cristal followed her backstage and admitted why she had arranged for Nomi to be selected: "Maybe I like the way you dance. Maybe I like you. What difference does it make?"; Nomi said she hated Cristal for her 'enjoyment' of her harsh treatment
  • outside the Stardust after the audition, James (working as a hotel bellhop) again stated how Nomi's aspirations for a glamorous topless showgirl career meant the exploitation of her talent: "You don't want to be in this kind of show. Here, they pretend they want something else, And you still show them tits and ass"; for talking to Nomi during his work, James was fired; he drove her back to his apartment in a pink convertible where he showed her some of his choreographed dance moves for her before they had a brief sexual fling; she denied him sex due to her period, and also affirmed: "You can f--k me when you love me"
  • it was confirmed that Nomi had been given the job to dance in the "Goddess" show, so she quit her leggy, pole-dancing Cheetahs job; she made one last visit to the club to tell Al and Henrietta: "I'll never come back" - when Al retorted: "You're a f--king stripper. Don't you get it?", she rejected his put-down: "I'm a dancer!"
  • then, she rushed over to tell James about her new job, but she found him having intimate relations with Penny, her ex-co-dancer from the Cheetahs Club; the double-crossing James had offered Penny the same dance routine and promises that he had presented to Nomi; Nomi promptly broke up with him [Much later in the film, James quit choreographing dance numbers after a disastrous show at The Crave Club, and he took a grocery store job after impregnating Penny]
  • intense rehearsals for the show were conducted by choreographer Gay Carpenter (Michelle Johnston) and Marty (Patrick Bristow), including hip "Thrust It" exercises, before her first show - that very evening
Nomi's First "Goddess" Show
  • the show went smoothly, and the aspiring Nomi was rewarded with a bouquet of flowers from Zack at her dressing table; during the next day's noon practice, Nomi found herself in an empty Stardust showroom with Cristal, snorting cocaine; it was a pretense to go out to lunch at Spago's; during their meal discussion, they first talked about eating Doggie Chow in their past when they faced hard times
  • over champagne, they then became fixated on breast-talk - Cristal claimed that she used to have "little bitty tits" until she visited a plastic surgeon, and then she complimented Nomi's figure - Cristal: "You have great tits. They're really beautiful." Nomi: "Thank you." Cristal: "I like nice tits. I always have. How about you?" Nomi: "I like having nice tits." Cristal: "How do you like having 'em?" Nomi: "What do you mean?" Cristal: "You know what I mean." Nomi: "I like having them in a nice dress or a tight top." Cristal: "Hmm. You like to show 'em off."
  • Nomi confessed that she felt like a "hooker" when she showed off her breasts at the Cheetahs Club, although Cristal reminded her that they both provided sexual entertainment for cash: "You are a whore, darlin'....We all are. We take the cash, we cash the check. We show them what they wannna see"; Nomi disagreed: "Maybe you are a whore, Cristal, but I'm not," but Cristal again stipulated: "You and me, we're exactly alike"; Nomi was angered: "I'll never be like you!"; a love-hate relationship and rivalry was developing between the two divas
Erotic Dance Between Cristal and Nomi on Empty Stardust Stage Before Cristal Ripped Off Nomi's Top and Fondled Her Before Attempting a Bi-Sexual Kiss
  • upon their return to the Stardust show stage, they competitively engaged in an erotic dance duo, when suddenly, Cristal stripped Nomi of her complete top, to ogle her and to fondle her breasts and tweak her nipples; she then approached slowly for a bi-sexual kiss - and again reminded Nomi: "You see, darlin'? You are a whore"; Nomi felt used by Cristal and spit the word "Bitch!" at her before storming off
  • Cristal's malicious intentions on and off the stage were now clear - she would continue to imply and humiliate Nomi by proving that she was basically a cheap whore who was prostituting herself for money; Nomi was at first enticed when Cristal recommended her for a promotional dance appearance at a boat show convention coming to town in the next week, to be paid $1,000 dollars; however, at the event when she was propositioned for a show, dinner, and sex by a "high-roller" from Bangkok named Mr. Okida (Jim Ishida), she felt degraded, rejected the offer ("Not me") and marched away. When she confided with Zack about the issue, she thought he was supportive when he reprimanded Newkirk for his actions, but she had been fooled
  • later during a stage show, two rival showgirls sabotaged each other, leading to a serious knee injury for one of the girls, Annie (Ungela Brockman). It left an opening for tryouts for the position of Cristal's understudy. Meanwhile, behind Cristal's back, Nomi was invited by Zack (in his red sports convertible) to his magnificent estate. She complimented him about the lap dance ("I liked it when you came"), and then after noticing his outdoor pool with neon palm trees and a dolphin fountain, she stripped down and dived in. He joined her with a champagne bottle and two glasses, and poured the bubbly all over her face and body. In an overacted, over-the-top swimming pool scene, she seduced him and the two thrashed around during orgasmic activity below the water level - it was a basic repeat of the earlier lap dance, but under water

Nomi's Sexual Romp in Pool with Zack
  • the next morning, Zack urged Nomi to consider trying out for the understudy role at a noon audition against the other rivals Nikki (Melinda Songer) and Julie (Melissa Williams), and she won the competition. After finding out that Zack had slept with Nomi, Cristal was jealous and furious and interfered with the decision by threatening legal action and leaving the show, resulting in Nomi's offer being withdrawn. Enraged now that Cristal had the upper hand, Nomi vengefully pushed Cristal down the steep flight of stairs leading from the stage (after a contentious biker number between them), but she was cleared of blame by Julie, one of the rival showgirls that Nomi had earlier covered for; however, Molly saw the 'accident' and knew Nomi had caused it
  • Cristal suffered a compound fracture of her right hip, and thus Nomi became the headliner for the show; after Nomi's successful opening-night, debut lead performance, a premiere party was held at the luxurious Paradiso hotel; one of the guests was famous celebrity musician Andrew Carver (William Shockley) - one of Molly's idols; in the film's most violent and traumatic sequence, Molly was gang-raped by Carver and his two security guards in one of the hotel rooms; Zack and others from the Stardust agreed to bribe Molly with hush-money to keep the rape out of the news
  • during the aftermath of Molly's rape and recovery from a broken nose, Zack had conducted a background check on Nomi's elusive and shady past after learning a number of nefarious things about her: (1) Nomi's real name was Polly Ann Costello, (2) in 1989 when she was 15 years old and living in San Francisco, her father murdered her mother and then drunkenly committed suicide, (3) placed in a foster home in Oakland, Polly ran away in 1990 and roamed through the country, (4) she already had a rap sheet, for crack cocaine drug use and possession, soliciting, and assault with a deadly weapon; Zack pressured and blackmailed Nomi to not report Molly's assault to the police
  • not content with the lack of justice for Molly, Nomi exercised vigilantism by meeting up with Carver in his Paradiso Hotel room where she stripped, but then pulled out a switchblade and violently assaulted him with her heavy boots; she then visited Molly to inform her of the payback ("I just went to Carver. I kicked the s--t out of him"), and then visited Cristal to apologize for hurting her; Cristal, who had received a large cash payment for the injury, admitted that she had gotten her first lead earlier in life with the same tactic: ("There's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs behind you"); before Nomi left, the two shared a passionate good-bye kiss
  • the film concluded with Nomi's departure from town toward Los Angeles - again hitch-hiking - and hooking up with the same truck driver who had swindled her in the film's opening; this time, she held him at knifepoint and demanded her suitcase back

Nomi - Starstruck Watching the Stardust's "Goddess" Stage Show Starring Cristal Connors

Cristal Connors (Gina Gershon) in Extravagant Topless "Goddess" Stage Show

Cristal with Boyfriend, Stardust Entertainment Director Zack Carey (Kyle MacLachlan)

Nomi Meeting Cristal in Her Private Dressing Room After Stardust "Goddess" Show

Crave Club Bouncer James Smith (Glenn Plummer)

Nomi Backstage at the Topless Cheetahs Club

In the Cheetahs Audience: Cristal and Zack, Before a Private Lap Dance

Show Producer Tony Moss Introducing Him to Group of Auditioners

Humiliating the Line Up of Contestants

Dancers' Run-Through of the Routine

The Three Selected Dancers

Stand-Off and Humiliation of Nomi and Her Nipples by Moss

Cristal Watching Audition From the Audience

Nomi's Brief Sexual Fling with James

Intense "Thrust It" Rehearsals Led by Marty (Patrick Bristow)

Meal Conversation at Spago's: "I like nice tits"

"I like having nice tits"

Cristal - Furious and Jealous that Zack Slept with Nomi

Vengeful Nomi Admitting to Being Behind Cristal When She Fell Down a Flight of Stairs and Broke Her Hip - But Cleared of Blame

The New Headliner For the Stardust Show - Miss Nomi Malone

At the Debut Performance After-Party - Andrew Carver

Molly's Gang-Rape Incident

Zack's Discovery of Nomi's Past Life

Nomi in Andrew Carver's Hotel Suite Before Her Vengeful Assault With Switchblade and Her Boots

Passionate Goodbye Kiss Between Cristal and Nomi


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