In You Don’t Nomi, a chorus of critics and fervent devotees explore the complicated afterlife of 1995’s biggest flop, Paul Verhoeven’s salacious Showgirls. From disastrous release to cult adoration and extraordinary redemption, it’s all here in the new project. The documentary features Adam Nayman (Vice Guide to Film), April Kidwell (I, Nomi), and Peaches Christ (Milk). Additionally, the movie features archive interview footage with the cast and crew of Showgirls from around the time that the movie opened in theaters.
When Showgirls was released in 1995, Paul Verhoeven’s NC-17 look at Vegas dancers was met by critics and audiences with near universal derision. But in the intervening decades, the movie has become a cult favorite and has inspired an ever-growing fan community. An impassioned debate over its quality, artistic intent, and messages about sex and gender continues to this day. Guided by critics, scholars, and fervent devotees, Jeffrey McHale’s You Don’t Nomi explores the legacy and broader implications of Showgirls, while diving into its cultural inspirations as well as its place in Verhoeven’s filmography.
Showgirls was supposed to be the big and controversial break for Saved by the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley. However, that was not to be the case. Berkley plays Nomi Malone in the movie and her performance was torn to shreds. But, that was over 20 years ago now. Directors Jim Jarmusch and Jacques Rivette, have gone on the record defending Showgirls as a serious satire piece. Quentin Tarantino has stated that he enjoyed the movie, even going as far as to refer to it in 1996 as the “only… other time in the last twenty years [that] a major studio made a full-on, gigantic, big-budget exploitation movie.” The director went on to compare it to Mandingo.
In tracing Showgirls‘ journey from notorious flop to cult classic and unlikely artistic resurrection, You Don’t Nomi takes a thought-provoking and entertaining look at an unforgettable piece of American popular culture and the surprising ways we connect with film and each other. This is more of a labor of love than anything as Jeffrey McHale actually has love for the original Paul Verhoeven movie. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that the documentary doesn’t take a critical and realistic look at Showgirls.
You Don’t Nomi was originally going to open in theaters on June 5th, but that obviously won’t be able to happen now. Instead the documentary will be available Digitally and On Demand, starting on June 9th, 2020. In addition to directing, Jeffrey McHale also wrote the documentary. Adam Nayman, April Kidwell, Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, David Schmader, Haley Mlotek, Jeffrey Conway, Jeffrey Sconce, Matt Baume, Peaches Christ, and Susan Wloszczyna all appear in new interviews, which are spliced in with older interviews with the cast and crew when Showgirls premiered. You can check out the first trailer for You Don’t Nomi above, thanks to the RLJE Films YouTube channel.