Light a Candle in Memory of Elizabeth Berkley's Career
July 14, 2004
Today I woke up with a strange metallic taste in my mouth, a taste not unlike sweaty
stainless steel. Weird, I thought. The morning continued and I went about my daily
routine. As I poured two bowls of Iams Mini Chunks, I realized that I was fighting
back an overwhelming desire to eat the dog food. What the hell? My forehead didn't
feel hot, yet that taste in my mouth continued to intensify. Then, as if channeled
from another dimension, a voice boomed inside my head. I immediately knew I was
dealing with a Power much higher than I.
TOO MUCH TIME HAS PASSED ALREADY. STOP TRYING TO RESIST THE TEMPTATION OF SHOWGIRLS.
GIVE IN, FOR YOU ARE ONLY A MORTAL. THE GHOST OF ELIZABETH BERKLEY'S CAREER HAS SPOKEN!
The Ghost of Elizabeth Berkley's Career also warned that I would lose a finger (followed
by toes) every Tuesday at 2 pm until I helped lay her spirit to rest. As you can see,
I was left with little choice in the matter. Without fingers, I would never fulfill
my dream of playing the cello.
Elizabeth Berkley rocketed to super stardom after Showgirls came out in 1995.
Wait...let's start over. Elizabeth Berkley plummeted to the lowest echelons of Hollywood
credibility after Showgirls came out in 1995. She was 23 years old, fresh
from the hit show, Saved by the Bell, and poised to conquer the world. Faced
with a crossroads, Elizabeth had to make a choice. Would she take the path of nudity,
atrocious dialogue and emotional problems or would she opt for a perfectly respectable
syndicated WB sitcom possibly opposite Martin Lawrence?
Indiana Jones: What is it, my friend?
Grail Knight: She has chosen...poorly.
I am baffled by the logic that led her to believe Showgirls would be her vehicle
to fame. It could have been a bad day when she signed the contract, maybe her cat died
or she burned the green bean casserole...her agent could have been too coked up to
stop her. One can only speculate.
Whatever the case, it is clear that Ms. Berkley wanted to inform the world that
the days of Saved by the Bell and Jessie Spano were over. Gone was the Straight-A,
Bayside High Class President who balked when AC Slater called her "mama." (I
always found that somewhat disturbing...who actually says that in high school?) A
new era dawned as Nomi Mallone rose like a phoenix from Jessie Spano's ashes. Elizabeth
Berkley was reborn as a woman who was kicking ass and taking names. If that meant
she had to show everyone her cervix while swinging around a pole at the Cheetah,
then so be it. Fame comes at a price.
In addition to a shot at the Big Time, Showgirls presented Elizabeth with the
moment she'd been waiting for her entire life: she was going to DANCE. Hailing
from an affluent Detroit suburb, she began practicing her craft at the tender age
of five. All those years of sweat and determination finally paid off when she landed
the role of Nomi. Occasionally, you caught a glimpse of her moves in the rare
Saved by the Bell episodes that weren't focused on Zack & Kelly's break
up or Zack & Kelly's prom or Zack's "drunk" (one beer!) driving incident. In
the infamous episode where Jessie "becomes addicted to caffeine pills," she proves
that she can not only dance, but sing as well. She really was excited as
she belted out that old Pointer Sisters' favorite and flailed around her
bedroom. A well-timed intervention by Lisa and Screech helped steer Jessie back
onto the path of the righteous. I shouldn't joke. Caffeine pills can be some scary
stuff. They're equivalent to two cups of coffee each.
Hitching a Ride to Fame
As with many great films, Showgirls opens with the heavily made-up profile
of our anti-heroine. She's thumbing a ride to Las Vegas, City of Sin, and the look
on her face tells us ain't nobody gonna stand in her way. Nomi soon discovers the
road to Vegas is not paved with gold. Her suitcase is stolen and, after losing all
her money to the slots, she's propositioned by an old lecher who tells her that "sooner
or later you're going to have to sell it." Hmmmm, foreshadowing? The movie can't
be that transparent, can it?
We experience the first of Nomi's Psychotic Rages as she pounds her well-manicured
fists on the roof of the nearest car. Molly Abrams (Gina Ravera), the car's owner,
quickly intervenes. She not only pulls Nomi out of on-coming traffic, but buys her
a cheeseburger and fries. Nomi has no family, no money and nowhere to go. Her past
consists only of "different places." Cue the violins. Luckily for her, Molly has
a soft spot for emotionally-disturbed trash and invites her new friend to stay in
her trailer. Anyone would do the same, wouldn't you?
The women develop a cozy little friendship in the cozy little trailer. Molly is a
seamstress at the Stardust for the Goddess cast and Nomi has hooked
herself a gig stripping at the Cheetah. Upon seeing Goddess, Nomi
is dazzled by the sparkle of gold lamé, exploding volcanoes and the writhing
animal magnetism of the dancers. Mostly, her eyes are riveted on the grand dame
of the show, Ms. Cristal Connors, played by Gina Gershon and Gina Gershon's breasts.
Oh Gina, what a long, strange trip it's been! Word has it that she called her agent
in a panic after only 10 minutes on the Showgirls set. She knew a bomb when
she saw one. Yet to the delight of teenage boys and old men everywhere, she stuck
it out. Unlike Elizabeth Berkley, she has sustained a somewhat successful career.
With Showgirls, she just took one for the team, as they say.
The same may also be said for Kyle MacLachlan who plays Zack Carey, the Stardust's
slimy, greasy-banged Entertainment Director. A few years after Showgirls,
Kyle made a strong comeback as Trey MacDougal, Charlotte's impotent husband on
Sex & the City. That he was cast as a man with erectile dysfunction makes
perfect sense if you consider his encounter with Elizabeth Berkley/Nomi Mallone in
the Showgirls pool scene. As Nomi thrashed upon Zack like a spawning salmon,
one can almost pinpoint the exact moment he became a eunuch. Nomi set a new standard
for ball breakers everywhere. Kyle MacLachlan should be thankful he can walk.
She's not a whore, she's a dancer!
Our first taste of Ms. Berkley's dancing comes courtesy of the Cheetah stage.
Nomi's pole licking, pelvic thrusts and simulated sex with her co-dancer, Penny/Hope,
serve to excite Cristal and Zack who have stopped by to see the dancer (not a whore!)
perform. After a $500 offer from Crystal, Nomi is forced by her boss, Al, to pleasure
Zack with a private lap dance. As Ms. Berkley's bald pubic region glistens in the
pulsing strobe light, visions of her more dignified acting days flicker through my
head. Jessie Spano, environmentalist, saving the whales! Jessie Spano, feminist,
standing up for her rights! Jessie Spano, activist, leading the "Just Say No!" drug
awareness campaign at Bayside High! Did she go for the Brazilian wax back
then? Someone call Mario Lopez to find out.
The Showgirls plot thickens when Nomi is invited to audition for an open spot
on the Goddess chorus line. Psychotic Rage #31 erupts when she storms off
the stage after refusing to ice her nipples. Despite this, she gets the
part...with a little help from her close "friend," Ms. Cristal Connors.
Kibbles & Bitches
Great lengths are taken to establish the contempt between Nomi and Cristal. Nomi is
repeatedly brought into her archrival's good graces and subsequently humiliated.
As she struggles to set herself apart from Cristal, the similarities become all too
evident. A brief bond forms when they find they share memories of eating Doggy Chow
back in the day.
I used to love Doggy Chow
I used to love Doggy Chow
Forget about brown rice and vegetables and bring on the Snausages
The Stardust is Never Dark!
Her status at the Stardust rises and Zack Carey takes note of both Nomi's
"talent" and how great she looks in her Ver-sase dress. As the relationship
evolves, they each learn a little something: Nomi discovers what "MBA" means and
Zack comes to understand what it's like to have sex with a jackhammer.
Nomi's biggest triumph comes when Cristal takes a little tumble down a flight of
stairs. Remember, darlin', there's always someone younger and hungrier right behind
you. Cristal's broken hip turns out to be exactly the break (pun) Nomi needs to be
crowned the star of Goddess. Everything is going her way. She's got the
show, she's got her man and a bump of coke off a lacquered pinkie nail is
just the ticket. Until...
Enter Andrew Carver
Andrew Carver is a singer who hob-knobs and canoodles with the Vegas elite. If
Fabio and Michael Bolton had a child he would be it. With his long flowing tresses
and slick velvet suits, he is Molly's favorite performer. She can barely stop gushing
when she meets the man himself at a Goddess after party. While Nomi dances
the night away with Zack, Molly is beaten and gang-raped by Andrew and his goons as
they howl and scream "Pussy!" Director Paul Verhoeven must have figured, in addition
to all the tits and ass, the film needed some violence in order to strike box office
gold. I know it's horrible, but I laugh every time Molly, positively dripping with
gore, collapses in the hallway. It's all so...unnecessary. In addition to "Bleeding
Heart Doormat," she can now add "victim" to her curriculum vitae.
Besides hearing Kyle MacLachlan utter the words "vaginal tears," the true motivation
for the bloody rape scene is to allow Nomi to finally demonstrate the Kung Fu skills
that she's kept secret until now. Who would have thought that she can dance and whip
some honky ass? She ventures to Andrew Carver's room to deliver a few round house
kicks to the face with her thigh high bitch-boots. It is admirable that Nomi wants
to avenge her friend, but what's with the red nipples? If we haven't already seen
them enough, we now have to see them resembling a pizza topping. It took me awhile
to understand what was actually going on in this scene -- until I realized that she
was using the ancient Red Areola Technique developed by Master Tashimoto in 1300 BC.
Of course! How stupid of me to forget. For it is written: The Power of Red Areola
is second only to the Power of Purple Labia. Everyone knows that.
Fifty dollar whore! Fifty dollar whore!
The last few puzzle pieces of Nomi's life fall into place as Showgirls thankfully
ends. Born as "Polly," Nomi is a former crack-addict transient who has served time
for soliciting, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of narcotics, robbery and
more soliciting. Did I mention she was a prostitute? You can't fault her though,
as "she did what she had to do." If that meant sucking someone's dick in an alley
behind a dumpster, so be it.
Hey, did you hear that? It sounds like someone is moaning. Oh wait, never mind --
that's just air escaping from the putrified corpse of Elizabeth Berkley's career.
Like post-mortem twitching, these false signs of life can fool even paramedics
from time to time.
"Alright, boys, good work today! Let's pack it up and get her down to County and
tag her. These young ones are always the hardest...such a waste..."
Los Angeles County Office of the Coroner
Legal Name of Deceased: Elizabeth Berkley's Career
Date: September 22, 1995
Estimated Time of Death: Sometime between 9:00 and 11.30 pm
Last Known Address: Las Vegas, NV
Where Death Occurred: Box Office
Probable Cause of Death: Suicide
Next of Kin: Unknown
I don't want you to feel too sorry for Elizabeth Berkley. She can always fall back
on her dancing...or at least put that formidable pelvic thrust to work. If those fail,
I imagine she could have a modest career as a manicurist in Chinatown. She'll
paint and decal your nails for $10...but only if you're into that "whore-y look."
See ya later, darlin'.