In 1995, Showgirls gave the world Nomi Malone and Cristal Connors in all of their glitzy glory. Trashed and reviled by mainstream critics, Paul Verhoeven’s camp ode to Vegas showgirls became a cult classic, due in large part to queer viewers. In the documentary You Don’t Nomi, out Tuesday on DVD and Blu-Ray, director Jeffrey McHale examines the legacy of Showgirls and its afterlife in queer spaces.
"There's no question that the queer community has kept Showgirls alive for all these years through pure adoration. It was a topic that I was really important for me to cover in You Don’t Nomi and I think it starts with Nomi herself,” McHale told The Advocate in a statement.
“The 'hero's journey' of Nomi Malone as someone who sets out to follow her dreams in a big city, finds her chosen family, and uses her strength and sexuality to fend for herself is a story that so many queer people can relate to,” he added. “Nomi fights to be seen, to be heard, to be recognized. What queer person hasn't had to do that too?”
Showgirls starred Elizabeth Berkley, in a 180-degree turn from her role on Saved by the Bell, as the wide-eyed gal navigating the seedy underbelly of the Strip while becoming a rising star in the show “Goddess,” gleefully mispronouncing “Versace,” and flirting with Cristal (Gina Gershon a year before the lesbian classic Bound was released), the sexy doyenne of the headdressed beauties of Vegas.
Along the way, Nomi makes one good friend in her roommate Molly (Gina Ravera), a costume designer and the sweetest person in the city, to whom terrible things eventually happen. And Nomi becomes involved with Kyle McLachlan’s Zack, the sleazy entertainment director at the Stardust. Who can forget Nomi and Zack's coital pool splashing?
“The cast of characters, the dialogue, the glitz, and the seediness of the story are all so bizarre and beautiful, just like queer culture. It's a movie for us, even if it wasn’t intended to be,” McHale said. “This big-budget studio film was just so vehemently rejected by the mainstream, but we took it in, raised it back up, and celebrated it at the midnight hour for the last 25 years.”
Watch the trailer for You Don’t Nomi below. The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray from RLJE Films.