Paul Verhoeven won't change anything about "Showgirls" if he would be given a second chance. Critics panned the movie before its release on September 22, 1995. It underperformed at the box-office, which wasn't the case with Verhoeven's previous films. Gratuitous sex is not the reason, as "Basic Instinct" turned Sharon Stone into a star. The premise reminded film enthusiasts of "All About Eve", only set in the sleazy world of Las Vegas. It billed itself as the Entertainment Capital of the World, but the (stage) world of showgirls had its share of politicking and backstabbing.
A Verhoeven film is a satire with excessive sex or violence. In the case of "Showgirls", Nomi Malone is a drifter with a checkered past. She kept on telling anyone that prostitution was not her trade. Only Verhoeven and Joe Exterhas, his screenwriter, would turn it into a compelling story. Elizabeth Berkley, who played Nomi, didn't get the big break (after the release of "Showgirls"). But the movie achieved cult status.
Verhoeven liked to push buttons, and "Showgirls" wasn't an exception. Maybe the 1990s wasn't the right to gamble in such a story. The nudity may have turned off viewers, but opinion changed twenty years later. (Some thought it was hilarious.) And those who believed that the filmmaker was a controversial figure have no idea what they were talking about. Here is a look at some of Verhoeven's past works:
The Fourth Man (1984). Religion and sex go hand in hand in this unsettling feature, about a bisexual author who had a premonition about his death. His days were numbered, which made him skittish about what would lie ahead. Eyebrows were raised at the sight of the crucified Christ, which would come to life. The author gave him a suggestive stare. This won't be for pious viewers.
Basic Instinct (1992). A female novelist was suspected of being a Black Widow, and it was up to a detective to prove it. No one was immune to her charm, and he had no guarantee that he would be alive after a horizontal encounter. Many would be reminded about "The Fourth Man", but Verhoeven didn't use subtleties. Moviegoers were like voyeurs, and they won't get enough of it.
Starship Troopers (1997). This was about an interstellar war between mankind and insectoids who could be a threat to the human race. Verhoeven didn't try too hard to conceal the satire on certain aspects of American society; the Yanks love to go to war, and they are willing to die for it. Some would question Verhoeven. (It may be a European sentiment, as Verhoeven hails from Amsterdam.) The film was released before 9/11, which the filmmaker might not have foreseen. Maybe he can do an update of Robert Heinlein's novel, from which the film is based from.