It was in the fall of 1995 that Showgirls—about a wide-eyed young dancer trying to secure her big break, replace the aging star in a musical extravaganza—(think 42nd Street but set in Vegas and porny), the most reviled and revered film of the decade, premiered. Feelings about the work, even after 25 years, have yet to settle, remain as unresolved as ever: Masterpiece or piece of shit, or, in the words of critic Adam Nayman, “Masterpiece of Shit”? The answer is “all of the above,” is “none of the above,” because Showgirls is beyond good or bad, is beyond category altogether, and seems more miracle than movie, created by God or accident, not by man or by design.
Which is why it’s so difficult—almost impossible—to imagine Showgirls actually being written. Could a writer have sat down at a computer and typed out this line of dialogue: “Must be weird not having anybody come on you”? Yes, and that writer was Joe Eszterhas, off of Basic Instinct.