Tuesday, June 09, 2020

No You, Nomi

I refuse to do a search because I'm afraid what it would tell me about how repetitive I get here on this website, but I'd wager a guess that at this point I've told the story about my opening night screening of Showgirls in 1995 as many times as I've actually watched Showgirls. I'd like to think that can hardly be the case -- I've easily seen Showgirls dozens of times by now here 25 years on -- but who knows. Nomi excuse me nobody knows. Anyway the story's real short so I'll indulge us again: it was a midnight screening, September 22nd 1995, and there were only five people scattered about the large theater. Me, my best friend, and three middle-aged men not sitting anywhere near each other. The lights went down, the projector started, and the three other men in the theater suddenly began chanting, as one, "Tits! Tits! Tits!" And that, my friends, was love at first Tits.

Telling a personal story about one's relationship to Paul Verhoeven's 1995 so-called "Masterpiece of Shit" here to introduce the brand new Showgirls documentary You Don't Nomi, which is out on demand today, only seems right, since that's what You Don't Nomi turns out to be -- it's not really about the making of the movie, as it doesn't talk directly to any of the talking heads involved with the film's production; You Don't Nomi is about the critic and the viewer's relationship to the movie, and how it's changed, critically and culturally, over the past 25 years. And as such it's catnip to Camp Fanatics.

I definitely also recommend checking out Adam Nayman's book It Doesn't Suck as a companion to watching You Don't Nomi -- Nayman is interviewed here and speaks at length, enough that Nomi at times feels like a straight adaptation of his book, with some added off-shoots about the midnight screenings and the off-Broadway musical version. And there's supposedly a second documentary coming from the king of queer documentarians Jeffrey Schwarz (I Am Divine, Tab Hunter Confidential) currently in post-production that's about the other stuff, Showgirls speaking -- point being set aside your need to hear Elizabeth Berkley herself ponder the film's 2020 legacy for the time being, as that'll be coming soon. ("Must be weird not having anybody come on you," the writer finds himself thinking instinctively.)

You Don't Nomi skirts fine around its lack of access to the filmmakers with plenty of clips of the players through the years though, including a touching sequence towards the end that charts Berkley's transformation from punchline to her seeming giddy embrace at one of those recent screenings -- a transformation that basically mirrors the way the film itself's trash legend has shaken and shimmied itself free of things like "logic" or "reality" to become something more -- something more spiritual, something more transcendent. 

Because make no mistake -- Showgirls is a religion. I feel as if You Don't Nomi could be updated fifty years from now with a new chapter of the story where that is actually, literally the case -- there will be Showgirls Churches, rites performed with handfuls of shiny little stripper beads and Cristal-flavored Holy Water splashed in one's face. It'll be Jesus all over again, just with the Sacred Sacrament of the Doggy Chow this time around. Goddess, indeed.

In all seriousness if you're a Showgirls disciple like me you've probably already watched this doc since it's been online this morning and you need no formal introduction. You've already dimmed the lights and began chanting the ritualized chant of "Tits! Tits! Tits!" as it was once spoken in the holy book by the Saint Joe Eszterhas of Assisi. If you haven't, well, don your robes, your biker bustiers, your Revenge Nails, open all the bags of chips and loose the chimps, cuz you're in for a damn treat.

and it's also going to be hitting blu-ray in July.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why this movie is considered a bad movie. I freaking loved it. I seriously don't understand.