Years ago, Showgirls star Gina Gershon admitted that she was aware of how ridiculous the movie was while they were filming it. Then just this summer, Elizabeth Berkley finally made peace with the movie she was widely ridiculed for and whose name she didn’t speak of for years. Now, in a Rolling Stone interview pegged to the camp classic’s 20th anniversary, the Dutch madman who directed it, Paul Verhoeven, has revealed that the movie is precisely as tacky as he wanted it to be.
Verhoeven blames himself for Berkley’s frenzied, finger-in-a-socket performance, explaining, “Good or not good, I was the one who asked her to exaggerate everything — every move — because that was the element of style that I thought would work for the movie.” And boy does it work.
I asked David Stewart of the Eurythmics, who was our composer for the film, to write the music for the big Vegas shows in a kind of banal way, because I was thinking an American audience seeing a show called “a musical” was probably expecting these numbers to be written by Leonard Bernstein and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. So I didn’t do that. I wanted to push the fact that it was all not-so-good stuff. I won’t say “shit,” but that’s what it would be. It was basically over-the-top Vegas. And I’m responsible for a lot of those things.
I always felt that it was what you might call a hyperbolic approach to filmmaking. Yes, it was over the top. And that was on purpose. The environments were very flashy. There were too many lights, too many idiotic things, and too much Vegas — not only in the surroundings, but “Vegas” in the way the people behaved, in the dialogue, in the acting. As for the finished product: I thought it was perfect. Otherwise I would have changed it. I had time to change it. I could change whatever was there.
Well, would you look at that? Though seeming like an out-of-control disaster has always been this movie’s charm, at a 20 year remove Verhoeven contends that the chaos was intentional. It just goes to show that some things are never too old for that whorey look.
Additionally, Verhoeven calls Showgirls a “very elegant movie.” Yes, as elegant as a pairing of champagne and Doggy Chow. Here, taste the elegance: