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Light a Candle in Memory of Elizabeth Berkley's Career

July 14, 2004

The Ghost of Elizabeth Berkley's career 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.


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.

Opportunity Knock(er)s

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?

Grail Knight and Indiana Jones

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 Jessie Spano or she burned the green bean casserole...her agent could have been too coked up to stop her. One can only speculate.

AC Slater 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 I like the pole and the hole. 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

Vegas or Bust 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?

Molly Abrams 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.

Gina Gershon 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.

Kyle MacLachlan 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!

Don't you know where that pole's been? 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 really like Doggy Chow.

Cristal: I used to love Doggy Chow.

Nomi: I used to love Doggy Chow, too!

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 Nomi is Goddess 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 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.

How much did you charge?

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."

The whore-y look

See ya later, darlin'.

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