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Elizabeth Berkley Makes Peace With ‘Showgirls’ at Academy Museum Screening: “You Always Believed”

A sold-out crowd of 1,200 Showgirls lovers gave the film’s star Elizabeth Berkley three standing ovations during her introduction of the much-maligned, then adored 1995 camp classic at a screening at the Academy Museum’s David Geffen Theater on Wednesday.

Berkley, 49, looked radiant as she addressed the audience in glittery eyeshadow and a tailored tuxedo. She noted in her remarks that her mother asked her agent after getting cast in Showgirls if there was a chance she might be nominated for an Oscar for the part. “Every girl in Hollywood had fought for this role,” she said. “So it was not a strange thing to ask.”

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“So tonight I’d like to thank the Academy … Museum,” Berkley said, to cheers from the audience.

A visibly moved Berkeley told the crowd that Showgirls “really pushed the boundaries at that time that now have been embraced — not misunderstood but truly embraced. And I’m so grateful that the film has found its way not only in your hearts but especially the LGBTQ community.” Her remarks brought the crowd once again to their feet.

“You stood by the film,” she went on, then grew tearful, pausing as the crowd applauded through the silence. “You always believed, as did I, and for that I’m eternally grateful.”

She closed her remarks by moving center stage and doing her character Nomi Malone’s signature scissor-hands dance move, then blowing a kiss to the audience.

Showgirls was the follow-up effort from director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas after the runaway success of 1992’s Basic Instinct. It was envisioned as a gritty take on the real and sometimes dangerous lives of Las Vegas entertainers.

Some of the stranger moments in the film — including one character’s reference to eating dog food — were taken from actual interviews with Vegas dancers conducted by Eszterhas, the writer revealed on THR‘s It Happened in Hollywood podcast.

The final result was destroyed by critics, who saved their choicest words for Berkley, calling the 21-year-old newcomer — whose previous major credit was the teen sitcom Saved by the Bell — “irritating” and “a bimbo.” Showgirls was nominated for 13 Golden Raspberry Awards — a record that still stands — and won seven of them. It bombed at the box office, making only $20 million on a budget of $45 million and stumbling Berkley’s career just as quickly as it began.

Yet the film, unintentionally hilarious and consistently entertaining, built a loyal following over the years through home video releases and midnight screenings.

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