by Dennis Hensley
just seen the appropriately named teaser reel for Paul Verhoevenís
Showgirls and Iím recovering from the experience in a Sunset
Boulevard cafe near the screening room. Though Iíll eventually
see the whole film--and believe me, Iím counting the minutes--for
my first encounter with the filmís star, Elizabeth Berkley,
Iíll have to make do with just the 13 minutes of source material
provided. But what a magnificent 13 minutes they are. Thereís
our girl, Elizabeth--as naked as I assume she was on the day
she was born though I wasnít there--shamelessly engaged in
such activities as licking a stripperís pole, refusing to
put out on her period, writhing on stage with co-star Gina
Gershon, and showing co-star Kyle McLachlan the real meaning
of Twin Peaks from atop his ecstatic lap. Based on these few
stellar minutes, the 22-year old also looks to be acting and
dancing her ass off in the film. This, of course, I mean figuratively,
for who wants to see a movie about a stripper with no ass?
on what I know about Hollywood and what Iíve just witnessed
on screen, Iím half expecting Berkley to sulk in to see me
in baggy sweats and no makeup, claim she didnít know what
she was getting into, and get pissed off when I ask about
the nude scenes.
a refreshing surprise it is, then, when Berkley makes her
entrance. Dressed to kill in a backless lace top, and shiny
drawstring pants that reflect the light in all the right places,
the 5í10Ē stunner appears to have left the straight-laced
character she played on Save By the Bell back in high school.
was just at the gym,Ē she says breathlessly, ďand the Showgirls
publicist calls and says, ĎElizabeth, youíre on Sunset Boulevard.í
Did you see that over there? Itís the billboard for Showgirls.
So I said to my trainer, ĎIíll be back, I just need to go
take a drive,í so I drove up here and just stood there. I
mean, itís like a dream come true.Ē
canít see it through the tree,Ē I complain.
she says. ďLetís go on a field trip.Ē
I follow Berkley out to the street and enjoy the backlessness
of her top, I canít help but wonder if some lucky journalist
didnít do the same thing with Sharon Stone on the eve of Basic
Instinct, for the same team of served up that film, director
Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Ezsterhas, are behind
it is,Ē shouts Berkley of the billboard that features a tantalizing
likeness of her nubile body, but cuts her off right below
the eves, leaving the top of her head and therefore her mind,
on the cutting room floor.
cut off your eyes,Ē I remark. ďI know,Ē she says. ďThey wanted
it more mysterious.Ē
in the restaurant, I notice that the eyes missing from the
billboard are, in fact, two different colors. One is brown,
and on green--but the both burn with the same unabashed ambition
as Berkley talks about life on the edge of NC-17.
BERKLEY: Now weíre back in the restaurant, folks, and thereís
a giant-sized pole right by our table.
HENSLEY: Itís too big to do a pole dance with, isnít it?
it is. You canít grip it.
the operative width?
half this. Something that your hand can almost go around.
(Laughs) So, Iím a connoisseur now.
your favorite pole trick?
learned this one where you literally go upside-down and slide
down bringing your legs together. There are a lot of gymnastic
things you can do but I think itís much more sensual if you
use it as if itís a person. I saw a whole range of people
do it. I thought the eye contact with the audience was sexier
than doing like an upside down flip like Mary Lou Retton.
you seen the finished film yet?
my God, I just saw it like a week ago. You have to understand,
Iíve been working at this since I was like five years old
so it was pretty overwhelming. I sat in the screening room
by myself. The lights went down and I started to cry because
it was just overwhelming at first. Iím such a perfectionist,
but a certain point, was able to get lost in the story, which
was a good sign to me. I really thought that I was watching
whatís the story of Showgirls?
about this young girl whose been dealt a really bad set of
cards in life and she comes to Vegas to become a showgirl.
Ultimately itís about moral choices, really, like how far
would you go to get what you want, what would you give up
for love. Itís very dark drama, but itís also entertaining
because of the production numbers. I donít think thereís ever
been anything quite like it.
your characterís name?
Itís spelled N-o-m-i but the way Iíve always thought of her
is Know Me. Sheís not going to obey other peopleís rules.
Sheíll stop at nothing to get what she wants. What drives
her is her dancing. Itís the one time that she feels the most
style of dancing is it?
very harsh and very aggressive. Thatís the way she lives her
life. I found a lot of the character through the dancing because
we had two months of rehearsal before we started shooting.
much dance training did you have before this movie?
has always been one of my biggest loves. Iíve always taken
class and people have always said to me, ďWell, if youíre
an actress, why do you take dance class every day?Ē and now
Iím saying to them, ďHoney, this is what it was for, this
movie right here.Ē
did you think when you first read the script?
thought, ĎI have to do this.í I mean, this role, I would kill
for. Itís very rare you read a script where the whole focus
of the film is on a woman. Also, Iím so passionate about what
I go after and I really felt a lot of connection with the
character right away. I just knew I had to get in the room
with Paul and show him what I can do so that he could see
because I really felt this strong connection. Plus itís a
little scary, you know. I didnít become an actress to do things
that are safe.
you read any scenes and think, ĎI canít do that, thereís no
way they can get me to do that?í
I didnít. I thought, ĎOh, when can I do that?í
never crossed over the line for you?
In the beginning, I was a little nervous about the nudity
but after the first day that I did it, it was fine. Paul made
me feel really safe. I knew I had to feel that trust with
him otherwise half the things I had to do, I could not have
the other dancers have more experience with disrobing?
I had to lead them. At the beginning when we were in the rehearsal
process we were all dancing in our leotards. Finally, Marguerite
(Derricks, the choreographer) said, ďGuys, you have to get
used to how it feels when you donít have something to support
youĒ so finally one day the music started and I said, ďOkay
guys, Iím going, so you have to do this with me,Ē so then
everyone just did it and it was so free. We were giggling
like little kids. From then on, it was fine. Between takes
we didnít throw our robes on, you know what I mean.
you go to craft services naked?
everyone did. People would be sitting there, talking, eating
bananas, smoking, whatever. The thing is, the way it was shot
is so beautiful. Even though there are 21 pretty much naked
bodies on the stage itís not like you go, ďOh, breasts breasts,
there any scene that was a lot harder to do than you expected
it to be?
bottom line is the character is so emotional. Sheís constantly
on the edge of a breakdown so that was hard because whatís
two minutes in her life was 17 hours for me. There was one
scene in particular where Iím on stage auditioning for the
showgirl spot where Alan Rachinsí character is wanting me
to put ice cubes on my nipples. That was so difficult. Everyone
on the set just felt really upset by it because the fact is
that goes when showgirls audition. I mean, itís part of the
process. And also some of the strip numbers were hard. Even
though thereís the director, and the DP, thereís and all these
wonderful people that I love there, there are still 200 to
300 extras sitting there with me naked and actually doing
must have been a zillion horny extras wanting to appear in
the club scenes.
just as there are guys that go to these strip clubs. Everyone
goes in for a different reason. Like some go because itís
a power trip. They can reject any girl they want and take
any girl they want if they pay the money. The girls all work
there for one reason, the cash.
makes more money, lap-dancers or showgirls?
that kind of a bummer?
is. I have no judgment on it because I think they deserve
whatever they can get. Thereís a girl here in L.A. that sometimes
brought in $1000 a night, but thatís not common.
you werenít an actress, would being a Vegas showgirl appeal
top you as a dancer?
mind canít even go to thinking about my life without acting,
to tell you the truth.
your favorite style of dancing?
always did love tap, jazz and ballet, but now Iíve added a
couple of new things to my repertoire. (Laughs)
you aware that the project existed before you auditioned for
The year before I met Paul I saw an article in the trades
that talked about Esterhaus selling the script and what it
was about and I thought, ďOh my God, I have to get a hold
of this script.Ē Then they put in on hold for a year and in
that time I was so curious about these strip clubs and lap
dancing clubs that when I was in New York or Vegas I went
to see what it was about. I watched and talked to the girls
but I never got up there. I think for a lot of them itís very
hard to disconnect from whatís happening and to not have anger
towards men. Sometimes when I would leave there I would be
are the ground rules of lap dancing?
girl can touch them, but the guy canít touch the girl.
some of the men have orgasms?
they canít whip it out.
itís a no-no. No whipping.
many auditions do you have to go through before you got the
Plus I just had to get past my agents and people telling me,
ďTheyíre definitely going to give this to a big name star.Ē
it be hard to find a name that can dance and that would be
willing to do that do what the role required?
me, a lot of people wanted to kill for this. Everyone and
their mother went in for this.
know. My mom didnít even get a callback.
fact is, they would have used a dance double, so the bottom
line was the acting because she carries the movie.
what point did they ask to see you dance?
third audition was a dance audition and after that I went
to Idaho to do this TV movie for Disney called Cry of the
there any lap dancing in that movie?
but I was practicing pole dancing in the woods in case I had
to go back for another interview.
Paul have to go to the studio and fight for you?
He just said, ďThis is who I want.Ē They really trust him.
Look, this is the first director who in his contract, knowing
that itís going to be NC-17 was able to release it as a wide
release movie in like 1000 or 1500 theaters.
are you from originally?
Hills, Michigan. Everyone knows everyone. I went from kindergarten
through high school with the same people. I finished up high
school out here actually. I live with my parents out here
What do your parents think of Showgirls?
excited. Matter of fact, I called my dad at work today and
heís going to drive by to see the billboard. Theyíre very
supportive. They knew what it was before I did it.
they come to the set?
Theyíre not stage parents. My mom saw the eight-minute trailer
and loved it. She actually had a similar reaction to me. She
saw someone else up there. I mean, itís not gratuitous. The
nudity is necessary and essential to the story. To portray
her any other way would be a lie, you know. Sheís a stripper.
You wear a G-string and five inch heels.
you have brothers and sisters?
have a brother named Jason.
weird to imagine him watching you doing a lap dance?
my God. Well, heíll get turned on by the other girls in the
movie. Heíll be grossed out by me. His friends, who have seen
me grow up, used to tease me about being flat-chested because
I didnít develop until later in life - I was like 17 - so
they havenít seen me since then so theyíre going to be in
for a surprise. And his friend said, ďOkay, I donít have a
lot of cash right now so Iím going to put $7.50 for a movie
ticket in an envelope and save it for September 22nd.Ē
you ever get recognized from Saved By the Bell?
I think that it will be fun for the people who grew up watching
Saved By the Bell who are now seventeen to be able to watch
you get to keep any of the clothes?
going to get some of it, like these suede hip-hugger pants
that lace up the front and of course, the S & M outfit with
the thigh-high boots. Where Iíll wear that, I have no idea.
you have a boyfriend?
There hasnít been time to meet anyone.
you have one at the time of shooting?
I was like Nomi. She was a Lone Wolf. I was a Lone Wolf.
you ever get turned on while you were shooting?
yeah. Definitely. I canít tell you which scenes because it
was pretty constant. I mean, Iím dancing to amazing music,
Prince and Dave Stewart from the Eurhythmics, thatís enough
right there. The dancing scenes were a real turn on. The music
in this movie really got me. I could hear it twenty-million
times and it still gets me. Itís all new and original in the
movie. Thereís one song by Prince called, ďRip, Pop Go Da
you get to meet him?
met him by chance right there in Tower Records. I was walking
down an aisle and he saw me and he went, ďNomi?Ē because they
had sent him a tape of me. And I turned around and it was
did you say?
didnít know what to say, because I didnít know what to call
him. So I told him how much Iíve loved dancing to his music.
you do any gambling while you were in Vegas?
wasnít old enough to gamble plus I was in every single frame.
I never had a break. I worked seven days a week, sometimes
17 hours a day. Weíd film six days a week and then on the
seventh I had to rehearse with the dancers. We had a few days
off for the holidays and Marguerite and I, it was so funny,
on New Years, we were sitting in this little dance studio
in Burbank--they had built a pole there and thatís where we
worked--and we said, ďDo you realize itís New Years? Happy
New Year.Ē But I wouldnít have rather had it any other way.
Thereís nothing Iíd rather do than my work to tell you the
truth. The feeling that I had waking up in the morning everyday,
I couldnít wait to get to the set.
love that they built a pole for you in the dance studio.
I loved it. I wanted it in my bedroom when we were done. Iím
still asking where it is. I want it installed.
few weeks later, I see Showgirls in all its naked glory and
I howl with laughter at a hundred or so things I donít think
Iím meant to, I still find myself getting into the characters,
appreciating the performances (particularly Berkleyís and
Gina Gershonís) and want to know whatís going to happen next.
But then, I had a good time at Exit to Eden, so what does
that tell you?
I said I was upset or offended in any enduring way, Iíd be
lying. Color me screwy, but Iíd rather see a movie that treats
lap-dancers like lap-dancers than one that treats hookers
like ingenues. Besides, Iíve always been a sucker for the
unmitigated tackiness of Vegas. Whatís not to love about a
film that appears to have been treated head-to-foot by a Ronco
talk to Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven a few days after
I see his film, and despite the backlash I can feel brewing
in the media, my thumbís still turned up. Fittingly, he calls
just as Iím about to welcome guests to my annual Miss America
party. Though I forget to ask, I have a hunch Verhoeven is
in favor of keeping the bathing-suit competition.
you remember the first time you laid eyes Elizabeth?
course. She came into my office on the second day of the auditions
and said, ďWell you can stop looking because I am Nomi.Ē Of
course I was testing everybody in the Central United States
that I could get to; actors that can dance or dancers that
can act or strippers that can do both but after a certain
amount of weeks, it was more and more clear that the surest
choice would be Elizabeth.
seeing the film, it seems to me that you not only needed a
girl who was pretty and talented, but one that was completely
devoid of inhibitions.
When I felt that she was confidant in both acting and dancing,
I started discussing what was necessary for the movie which
was that she should not be inhibited by any of the scenes
that were in the script, especially, the pole dance, lap dance
and some of the more sexual scenes. But it turned out that
she was extremely easy with all of that. She seemed to have
no problem and I believed her and I was right.
there ever times on the set that she balked?
That never happened. Long before we started shooting I described
the scenes and tried to prepare her for the fact that she
had to face two or three hundred people being completely naked.
Ultimately when it happened, she seemed to be prepared because
she never was a afraid of doing anything that was written
in the script.
her lack of inhibitions surprise you?
Especially for an American woman. You would expect this attitude
more from a European actress than an American one. Yeah, I
was highly surprised, but of course, it was great that she
felt that way about her own sexuality or about her own body.
I think sheís very confidant about how she looks and she seen
not to be inhibited in any way. Iíve never seen her inhibited
in any way throughout the process of shooting.
you ask to see her body during casting?
You could just tell it was hot? The way she was dressed, yes.
I mean, she had a very flimsy dress on and I donít think she
had any bra on so basically, you didnít need much imagination
to check out if she would look good naked or not. And I asked
her precisely if she had any scars or things that would be
difficult, and nothing was there of that kind.
seemed that the film paralleled her own life in that the character
does morally questionable things to be come a ďstarĒ and Elizabeth
does what some people would consider morally questionable
things in a film that could make her a star.
it does. Basically, you could even argue at the end of the
movie showing her on the road to Los Angeles is exactly what
might happen when the movie comes out, isnít it? The character
Nomi is driven by ambition, to a large degree, and Elizabeth
is also well aware of the ambition in her life to get to some
ending seems ripe for a sequel. If the film hits, would you
like to do one?
never done one. Iím easily bored when Iíve done a certain
kind of movie to do it again. The ending was more winking
to the audience what the next step might be. Iím not sure
really that any of us is really interested in continuing that
story although I know that Joe Esterhaus in some interviews
has said that the sequel will be called ďBimbos.Ē If I would
do a sequel, I guess it would be a bout a girl making her
way in Hollywood or it could be a movie about Marilyn Monroe.
If you study the life of Monroe, then itís clear that the
movie about her life in Los Angeles would probably be expressed
the same as we are expressing in this movie about Vegas.
you do anything wild or unconventional to coax a certain performance
really, no. Iím not that kind of director. Iím not very manipulative
in trying to obtain goals. Iím much more into telling them
exactly what I want and trying to describe it as precisely
as possible. Iím not a director that gives them information
that is A but means B. If I want B, Iíll propose B. Iíll try
to clarify what B means and how it could be done. The only
thing with Elizabeth is that sometimes sheís so thrown into
the part that she overachieves so I have to relax her more
than anything else. Sometimes she would hang on to the original
design and choreography and needed some psychological guidance
to loosen her up to say ďForget what you leaned, itís in your
body now. Just give yourself over to the music and it will
come.Ē That is the only thing really where I would say that
I did something psychological, but it was in all openness.
do you see for her future?
possibility to do other movies, I would say and I think sheís
dying to do so. It depends a little bit how the movie is doing.
If the movie does very well, then basically she would be a
star but she would also have to carry the burden of being
a star, which to a certain degree, is something that is enjoyable,
but on the other hand, especially because itís put in such
a sexual context, the movie might propel her into a direction
that can be a burden as we all know about Marilyn Monroe.
Of course, Monroe was a much more unbalanced personality than
Elizabeth is, who has much more better support systems with
her family and friends, so I think she is certainly much better
prepared to deal with the fact that the attention would go
to her for some time in a certain direction.
was it like meeting her parents?
nice. Her mother seemed to be as open to the whole thing as
Elizabeth herself. Her father, I saw only once on the set
for a moment. It was in the disco so it was pretty much a
normal scene. I think her mother might have been a little
bit thrown off when she saw the first shots of Elizabeth in
the tapes but never expressed that to me and always seemed
to be extremely supportive and really, I think, had an attitude
like ďGo for it. Letís just do it. This is something that
is important. This is something that you can do. This is something
that you have been dreaming to do and now you should just
do it.Ē Itís a little bit weird probably for parents to see
their child in full natural glory, but hers seem to be liberated
enough to not worry too much about that really. I never got
a feeling from her mother, who I met really several, that
there were any inhibitions from her side. It was like the
inhibitions were left behind when she was growing up. I think
she probably got an education that made this vision possible.
In what ways was working with Elizabeth similar or different
that working with Sharon Stone on Basic Instinct? With Elizabeth,
in the beginning, it was more finding out what her character
was and how she would react on direction and what you should
say and what you shouldnít say and what would propel her in
a good direction. With Sharon Stone, I knew much better of
course when I did Basic Instinct how to approach her because
I had worked with her in Total Recall and had my fights with
Sharon already there as I had my fights with Sharon when I
was doing Basic Instinct. Itís a different situation because
the relationship between me and Sharon was often more antagonistic
that it ever was with Elizabeth.
you ever fight with Elizabeth?
Sometimes Iím a little bit crude, you know. If sheíd say,
ďCan I have 30 seconds of intro to the music?Ē I would say
something like, ďOkay, give her ten minutes.Ē which is kind
of irritating to her. And then Iíd feel bad and apologize.
But I think we never got to any clash on any serious level,
ever. While with Sharon doing Basic Instinct, there was an
antagonism that certainly, in the second part of the movie,
made the set a really tense place.
did you learn from your ratings battles on Basic Instinct
that affected the making of Showgirls?
that I felt very unhappy at the end of Basic Instinct when
I thought that the movie was kind of perfect, at least in
my eyes, and then I had to cut it down and tone it down to
get an R rating which the studio required. It was like cutting
your own flesh a little bit and I decided that if I would
ever feel that another movie would require a real NC-17, that
I would only do it on that condition that it could be given
an NC-17. So when this project came along, it was clear to
me that in that environment it would never be possible to
tell that story as an R and I said to Joe then, ďIf you want
me to direct that movie, you have to auction it as an NC-17Ē
and so he did. And Carolco and later Charguers bought it and
MGM-UA had the audacity to go for that kind of rating.
like thereís no need to Directors Cut on video?
there is not. There is no other version. There are no other
scenes of any relevance. This is it. This will be the movie
that goes to Europe and to whatever country. They might cut
it themselves, but not me.
do you think is the audience for this movie?
would say everybody above 17 but I think young people would
probably, I think, have a good time. I think that people that
are older could really enjoy the dancing and perhaps even
the sexual freedom of the movie. Because of the policy that
MGM/UA set up, which is a little bit different than the way
Joe Esterhaus has expressed it lately, we are of course, in
a position where we have to enforce the NC-17. I mean, I think
to a large degree itís possible to argue that a young woman
of 16 years old would have enough understanding of the world
to see this, but we are now living in a situation where the
rules are as such and I think that should be the rule for
your movie, I felt, was like a way of rebelling against Bob
Doleís idea of what we should watch. Did you intend it to
serve as counter-programming in that way?
we didn't know that this thing would happen. The situation
with Dole started to happen six or seven months ago when the
movie was almost shot. But I think you could argue that Joe
Esterhaus made this movie because he intuitively felt this
kind of climate and felt that it would be interesting to put
an alternative there. And I think it is an alternative, in
so far as it says, if you are an adult, you should be able
to see this and you might appreciate it. Instead of saying,
like Bob Dole, that sexuality is a wrong thing and that basically
seeing sexuality - letís forget about violence for a moment
because thatís such a different issue - that seeing sexuality
would lead to depravity or moral decline which I strongly
disagree with. I think that people seeing this movie will
simply not go in moral decline because of seeing it.
enjoyed seeing a movie that didnít seem compromised . It seemed
like one clear vision as opposed to something that had been
tinkered and test screened and sanitized to death.
not a top heavy movie at all. Itís not trying to make a sexual
statement. It just has a certain lightness and freedom in
expressing itself in sexual or nudity terms which I feel is
refreshing if you see how American filmmakers in general are
forced to treat sexuality in their movies because they cannot
do you think this film will play in Europe?
sure that it will be much less provocative and much more based
on the dancing and the music and the story and the characters
than that they would be so much intrigued by the nudity which,
Iím not saying completely common in Europe, but itís a lot
it a conscious decision to not have male nudity? I mean, would
it have killed you to give a little dick?
be honest, I could not find a really good actor that wanted
to do it. I wanted to show it at that moment that they go
to the swimming pool because I felt that it would be natural.
Iím sure I could have found somebody that wanted to do the
nudity, but I could not find somebody that could do the acting
and the nudity. Of course, Kyle is nude throughout the whole
scene on the set and I thought that was already pretty audacious
for an American actor to spend all night nude in front of
a fifty or sixty-man crew. You could argue that male nudity
in a sexual situation like that would lead to a erection anyhow
and thatís very difficult to show. I mean, you could, but
basically, itís a bit too much to ask from actor to perform
that right in front of the camera. I think itís not that much
of an acting thing and as nobody wanted to do the nudity anyhow,
it seemed to be a far-fetched situation.
it true that Gina Gershon bought you a lap dance?
She and Elizabeth sat on both sides of me while the woman
was doing it so they both could see exactly what it was all
you learn anything from it?
probably learned to be humble because you feel pretty silly
if two women are looking at you while another woman tries
to make you come. It was much more for them than for me. I
didn't do it for myself because I had been lap danced before
in the same club when we started to do our research. The natural
reaction would be for me to say, ďIím not going to do that,Ē
but I felt that it would be unfair to not stand in for two
or three minutes when they were supposed to start doing this
the man doesnít climax, when does the lapdance end?
the songís done. You donít get a second chance unless you
pay another thirty of forty dollars. I think it might be rare
that you would really come so easily, you know. (Laughs) You
might have to spend a little bit more money to get to that
do you make of these rumors that you and Elizabeth are having
started from the beginning because of the way that I behave
on the set. Normally, Iím a director that when somebody is
upset about something, especially if it would be a female,
I would just put my arms around them and just try to console
them in a very nice and warm way. Of course, if you do that
on the set with a naked woman it looks pretty strange and
I think that the rumor probably started in Tahoe when there
were probably 500 people in the audience sitting there. My
behavior might have been a little bit strange to them and
I think that probably evoked the idea that there was something
going on. I mean, it has been said before in the case of Sharon
Stone and other actresses and basically as a rule I feel that
if you have a sexual relationship with your actress, I feel
that you cannot get to what you want in the movie. I think
thatís inhibiting. I think that what you feel in an artistic
sexual way for your actress if you would consume that in bed
then I think that you cannot portray it very well on the screen
anymore. Because that interest seems to be consumed. I felt
exactly the same with Sharon where I had the same kind of
feeling of sexual attraction to as with Elizabeth but I that
if you give in and say ďOkay, letís do that in reality,Ē then
I think that thereís no way that you get it on the screen.
So in both cases, I felt that it should be something that
is not consumed although itís clearly something you feel.
Sure, I felt a strong attraction to both women. it certainly
was there. But for me, if feels like if you go in that direction
that you will never be able to transcend it and thatís what
you should do because it should not be in my personal life,
it should be on the screen.
you meet actresses that you havenít worked with socially,
how do they react to you?
think they see me probably as God and the devil, you know.
That Iím the person that could do something special with them,
but on the other hand ask them to do things that they might
not be immediately willing to do. They have to be confident
that everything you do with them is something that ultimately
they wonít regret. In the case of Sharon, I think she regretted
that she had put her trust so much in me and herself at the
moment where she opens her legs and she has no panties on.
When it happened I think the relationship was such that she
felt that it was okay to do so. I think 5 months later when
she saw that scene in the presence of her friends her manager
and agents, she felt that the situation was so different that
she could not accept her openness at the moment that it happened.
I think it was feared that people would be abhorred by seeing
that and that it would hurt her career. So she tried to make
it undone and basically because I felt that it was very important
and it had been discussed and she had seen it on the video
and had accepted it that it would be too late now to go back.
I felt that was not fair. I felt that it should not be taken
out and I refused. Ultimately of course, you know that Sharon,
after protesting and accusing me of having betrayed her, ultimately
the last stand on that story of hers, in the last half year,
is that she invented that scene. So now she tells everybody
that it was her idea. After two years of accusing me that
I betrayed her, she changes her tune and now itís suddenly
her idea. I think she accepts it in her heart because she
knows itís such a strong scene. I
think that the strength of the scene is probably proven by
the fact that so many people remember that shot of her, and
any shot of her sitting in the white dress in the chair is
symbolic for sexual power, isnít it?
was the defining moment of the movie.
it was. It turned out to be. It was not when we shot it. I
was never aware of that until the movie came out.
you set out to make films that are shocking, or are you just
exploring what you want to explore and if we find that shocking
then itís our problem?
movies always have a tendency to be NC-17 even Robocop because
of my inclination to go for ultra-violence. Itís not because
I want to be that way or I want to get an NC-17. Itís just
because my mind goes that way. I never set out really to do
something which would be... well, perhaps thatís not even
true, I know sometimes when I do these things that people
might be upset but I do them anyhow because I feel that itís
exactly what I want to express. Iím not saying that there
might not be some provocation, but my idea of provocation
in this case would be more like saying ďOkay, guys, what you
normally see in the movie is not really the truth.Ē What I
want to show is the truth from a sexual point of view. The
way sex scenes are portrayed in Hollywood movies has not much
to do with reality and I would like to show how I think that
reality really is. And I know that of course, to deviate from
the normal images to go to a reality that is more real, letís
put it in these words, is always provocative and I might enjoy
that aspect of it.
you meet men socially do they ever say like, ďHey, thanks
dude. Keep it up."
men do, but there are also men that are telling me that from
a feminine point of view people could be really offended by
this movie. I donít know if they think that from themselves
or if they take that position for the sake of argument. I
haven't gotten the feeling that there was a very strong difference
between the opinion of men and women. But I hope it stays
thing I enjoyed about talking to Elizabeth is that sheís not
at all coy or ashamed about her work in the movie.
because I think that her convictions are real. When she told
me that she would be able to handle it, it was based on something
thatís internally hers. That was not something that she faked
to get the part. It was something that turned out to be the
reality of her inner being and I think thatís why she can
talk about it and can defend it and strongly stand behind
it. I think itís an essential thing to her. Itís an inner
truth of hers; that these things can be shown and that you
can behave that way and that it is fine.
canít argue with her because it seems organic.
what I feel. To be honest, if it had been different if somebody
would have pretended that that attitude then basically we
might have worked ourselves into a real big problem during
the shoot of that movie. It was a real major possible to do
next for you?
going to make a science fiction movie called Starship Troopers.
you work with Elizabeth again?
For sure. I think sheís great. I had great time. I admire
her. I like her. She has a great personality. Sheís very audacious.
Itís difficult to upset her. Sheís a very strong independent
woman and itís fun to be with her in an artistic situation
where you can really direct her as a director wants to direct
actors so that the best things come out for both.
you have cast Elizabeth if she wasnít a strong dancer and
used a double for the dance scenes?
The dancing was so much a part of the story that you could
never have done that with a double like in Flashdance because
you couldnít be close enough. Here you had to express a relationship
on stage, where the psychology should be visible in the faces
and in the dancing and that would never allow you to do stand-in
are you gearing up for the Miss America Pageant?
is the first Iíve heard of it. Probably, Iíll have a nice
dinner and relax form the eight hours of interrogation that
I have gone through today.
needs Miss America when youíve got Showgirls.
next day, Elizabeth Berkley calls from a limo on her way to
JFK airport. Sheís been in New York City to do more promotion
for Showgirls, and if her lap-dancing love-I with David Letterman
is any indication, her enthusiasm for plugging the film show
no signs of waning. Berkley gave good letterman.
Not only did she take the uptight Midwesterner to ďLap Land,Ē
but she spoke out herself and Showgirls with the kind of no-apologies
bravado that Iíve decided, as Verhoeven said, canít be faked.
And thought David is famous for making pretty young things
blush, this time it was he was seeing red.
I say casually after telling her how much I enjoyed Showgirls,
ďDid Dave pop a boner?Ē
the first time, the actress takes on a tone that says I may
have crossed her crass-line. ďOh, come on,Ē she says harshly
and then lightens, unable to say offended for lone. ďI was
on his knee, I wouldnít know.Ē
What question are you the most tired of hearing?
ďWerenít you nervous about the nudity?Ē But I can understand
why people ask that though, especially in America. When I
was at the Cannes Film Festival that was never really a question
that was asked because itís such a natural thing there. They
kind of embrace that in movies.
you know that in the press kit thereís a picture of you actually
licking the pole. Canít wait to see that turn up in USA Today.
classic, isnít it. Itís funny because that came literally
out of the moment. I mean, how could you choreograph a tongue
was Kyle McLaughlin like?
great. I think people will really see a different side of
him, which he hasnít been able to show in movies yet.
like his backside. Speaking of which, some people I saw the
film with were kind of bummed that there was no penis in this
you know, itís called Showgirls, not Showboys. Let me just
say that Kyleís butt looks really great on screen, so theyíll
get a good fill of that.
you werenít in this movie and went to see it, what would you
think about the way young women are portrayed in it?
of the things I like is that the women in the film are definitely
in their power. Theyíre in control of their destiny and making
their own choices. I think that thatís really important to
show, especially, within Nomiís character, this women whoís
on this discovery of her self-worth and knowing that sheís
enough and kind of tested with the questions of How far would
you go to get what you want? What part of your soul would
you sacrifice to get what you want? I think these are important
issues and I think itís exciting that itís explored in a very
sexually charged place.
you wonder if Showgirls is going to do for you what Basic
Instinct did for Sharon Stone?
have asked me that. The thing that I would love from it is
this is my beginning as a feature actress and I hope that
people really love my work in it. Hopefully, it will open
a lot of opportunities. It already has. Since I completed
the film, Iíve had a few meetings and some offers that were
really lucrative but I want to make smart choices about my
next thing. Iím not saying, ďOh I wonít play sexyĒ because
sexuality can be explored different ways. It just depends
on the script, the directors, the character, the other actors.
Iím also going to college. Iím a sophomore English Literature
major at a major university. Iím going to have to take this
so itís going to take me a long time to graduate but thatís
you suspected that some male producers and directors called
in so they could Ďcheck out the chick from Showgirls?í
some one wants to meet me because theyíre curious about Showgirls
or whatever, thatís fine. I donít let people take advantage
of me. I can see through that when thatís happening. Some
men are curious just because itís a young pretty girl, maybe
more so with this type of movie, but thatís okay. I mean,
if theyíre curious, thatís good. Let people be curious.
Ezsterhas has come out and said that young women should do
what they have to do to see this movie because it speaks to
them. What do you think this movie says to young women?
think itís like an everybody kind of a movie, but for some
women I think that the message would be that itís great to
have goals and you should go after them and not sacrifice
yourself a long the way.
you prepared for the backlash if, when this comes out, people
argue that itís exploiting women?
hereís the thing. First of all, Iím a very strong woman. I
go after what I want, you know. Paul, in his films, portrays
women only in their power. I mean, theyíre not victims. Look
at Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. No one can say sheís a
victim. Nomi Malone, my character, is not a victim. The film
itself explores the exploitation that goes on in Vegas which
is a reality there, believe me. I talked to showgirls and
the things that happen in the film are things that happen
to them throughout their careers. Because it is provocative,
this kind of movie will evoke a strong reaction.
youíre prepared for that?
I mean, I donít do things just to get a reaction but I know
that it definitely will get a strong reaction, especially
with whatís going on right now in the political world, but
the reality is these strip clubs are popping up all over the
world now. These lap dance clubs are part of the sexual culture
of the 90ís.
you remember how you learned the facts of life?
think Dr. Ruth had a show like on Sunday nights when I was
growing up and I would listen to it. But my familyís very
open about discussing that so I know I could talk about stuff.
was Joe Esterhaus like?
very intense, really wonderful. First of all, I went up to
him and said, ďI just want to thank you for creating this
did you think of Joe and Paulís last collaboration, Basic
I loved it. I saw it a few times.
you ask Paul or Joe what the hell happened at the end?
with Joeís writing the characters can be ambiguous.
the invasion of the Showgirls cast and crew big news in Vegas?
we were there and so was Casino at the same time.
you meet Sharon Stone?
while we were filming, but Iíve met her before. We had the
same acting teacher, Roy London, who passed away two years
ago. He was unbelievable. He was one of the biggest nurturing
forces in my life.
still live with your parents, right?
I do my own thing. Thereís a lot of mutual respect in my family
and itís like I have complete freedom. If I didnít, I wouldnít
be there. Itís great because I can go upstairs and have a
lot of love around me.
it tricky introducing them to Paul Verhoeven?
it wasnít at all. Are you kidding? Here, Iíve been working
at this my whole life and hereís someone who believes in me
and gave me a big shot. My parents think heís wonderful.
do you feel about the rumors that you and Paul are having
of all, itís not true. I mean, I love him. We have a wonderful
artistic and professional relationship and the thing of it
is, itís the nature of the movie. The nature of the movie
causes peopleís fantasies to go kind of wild. They want to
think that things went beyond the work.
it hurt having the rhinestones removed from your nipples?
put rhinestones on her nipples. I didnít.
the women in the film curious about each otherís nipples?
It seemed to me like every size, shape and color was represented.
Thatís the beauty of it. You look on the stage, everyoneís
bodyís are so different. Itís not like they all went for a
certain type. It was kind of celebrating the human body in
an artistic way. I remember running toward one of my partners
and doing a high kick where I put it on his shoulder and do
like a back bend and I came up and heís like, ďWow, they look
great!Ē Everyone was just complimenting each other.
you wonder how your having appeared in this movie will affect
the guys you date?
put it this way, theyíll know what theyíre getting, right?
(Laughs) Like there are no secrets, although there are. Actually
if they expect you to be, say, more sexually adventurous than
your average young woman?
Well, who says Iím not?
people been telling you, ďYouíre life is going to change--are
try not to have any expectation of what will be. One thing
I am prepared to do is continue working. Thatís what makes
your fantasy scenario for Showgirls 2?
Nomiís hitchhiking into L.A. and Paul Verhoeven picks her
up and wants to put her a starring role in his next movie.