'Showgirls' Turns 20: How David Bowie, U2 & Madonna Are Linked to the Cult Camp Classic
Showgirls -- starring Elizabeth Berkley (then best known for Saved By the Bell) and directed by Paul Verhoeven (then best known for directing RoboCop and Basic Instinct) -- entered the world 20 years ago today on Sept. 22, 1995.
The All About Eve-esque tale of a stripper turned Las Vegas A-lister suffered an NC-17 rating, an onslaught of critical hatred, the wrath of moralists and poor box office returns (it would go on to make plenty on rentals, however). Frequently listed as a contender for Worst Film Ever in the first decade of its existence, the campy showbiz satire has gained a cult audience and some critical reappraisal in the last 10 years.
While you'd be hard pressed to call the film respected, Showgirls is no longer the cinematic punchline it once was. Second-generation viewers drawn to the film under the aegis of ironic appreciation found the movie to be more nuanced and self-aware than most people who saw it in theaters (but for the record, Roger Ebert -- who didn't love the film -- called it underrated in the face of frothing hatred back in the day).
In commemoration of 20 years of this sensationally strange film, we're rounding up five bizarre music facts about Showgirls you probably didn't know.
Madonna Was Considered for a Role
According to the 2005 book Casting Might-Have-Beens by Eila Mell, Madonna's name came up while casting for the part of Cristal Connors, the mentor/rival to lead character Nomi Malone (Berkley). The role eventually went to Gina Gershon (who is absolute perfection in the movie), but before that, Madonna's former music video co-star Debi Mazar reportedly auditioned for the part of Cristal Connors.
Showgirls Featured the First Appearance of a David Bowie Classic
While most of Bowie's beloved compositions hail from the first 20 years of his career, his '90s song "I'm Afraid of Americans" has grown in stature to become one of his best-loved latter day tracks. Before appearing on Earthling in 1997, Bowie released an early version on the Showgirls soundtrack with slightly altered lyrics.
Showgirls Premiered a U2 Remix
The nudity campfest that is Showgirls is an odd place to exclusively find a U2 song, but then again, Zooropa was an unusual U2 album. Two years after its release, Showgirls featured a remix of "Numb," the "Gimme Some More Dignity" mix. The special remix didn't make the movie's official soundtrack.
It Features the Only Song From a Curve Side Project
Scylla was a side project for British alt-rock/electronica act Curve. Its only release was "Helen's Face," which appeared on the Showgirls soundtrack. Explained Curve/Scylla singer Toni Halliday to Select magazine in 1996: "I met Paul Verhoeven and he was just so charismatic. He wowed me into this horrible film, selling it as some intellectual comment on the sex industry. I walked out after 45 minutes."
It Boasts the Vocal Talents of Pamela Anderson
Well, not THAT Pamela Anderson, but actress/singer Pamela Anderson lends her vocals to "Walk Into the Wind," an original song written for Showgirls by two musical heavyweights: Eurythmics' David A. Stewart and The Specials' Terry Hall. The track netted that year's Razzie for Worst Original Song.