‘Showgirls’ Star Elizabeth Berkley Moved to Tears by Queer Community’s Support


The 1995 film Showgirls was a critically slammed, commercial flop at the time of its release, but since then the film has seen a resurgence and become a cult classic—thanks mostly to the LGBTQ community, according to the film’s star Elizabeth Berkley.

“You always believed as did I and for that I’m eternally grateful,” Berkeley said while introducing a screening of the film at the Academy Museum’s David Geffen Theater.

There were “things that we really pushed the boundary at that time that now have been embraced,” Berkley also said, “Not misunderstood but truly embraced.”

Showgirls, the first major studio release to have an NC-17 rating for nudity and sexuality, follows Berkley’s character Nomi as she moves to Las Vegas to pursue her dream of becoming an erotic dancer. Along the way she becomes entangled with seedy characters who bring her into a world rife with sex, money, and drugs.

Winning the lead role in a film helmed by director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who were fresh off the monster hit that was 1992’s Basic Instinct, the Saved by the Bell alum understandably expected that Showgirls would launch her into super-stardom. She noted in her remarks Wednesday night that she thought the role might win her an Oscar.

Instead, the film wasn’t able to recoup its $45 million budget in a brutal box office run and earned the record for the most Razzie Awards. Critics were particularly harsh towards Berkley as the film’s lead.

“It’s hard not to reflect back to fall of 1995, when the movie was met with such ridicule and the critics wrote such vitriol and personal attacks and I had my head handed to me on a national level and my heart wanted to know why,” she said during her speech, referencing critics who’d called her a “bimbo” in a film that “managed to make extensive nudity exquisitely boring.” Her career never took off after that.

“Despite all the vicious attacks, and there were many, the absolutely cruel nature of what was allowed then in the press,” she continued, “I'm so grateful the film has found its way,” especially, she said, with the LGBTQ community.

Even though the film was not the success she’d hoped for, Berkley considers it a win. “My soul is deeper and richer for playing her,” she said, “and I love you guys.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.