Nomi Forever

People are noticing something even gayer about Elizabeth Berkley’s Showgirls speech

When Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls came out in 1995, the world was divided as to its merits. While some forward-thinking viewers (the girls, gays, and probably a few theys) considered the piece an instant camp classic, a flamboyant sapphic masterpiece on the level of Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct, other viewers came away with a dizzying sense of confusion and exhaustion. To this day, the film remains a controversial but undeniably powerful piece of filmmaking, and the story of Nomi Malone continues to divide viewers as to its true artistic merits.

But there’s one community that continues to embrace the good word of Showgirls: the queers. We love Showgirls like nobody’s business, and we’ll always fight to defend it. From Elizabeth Berkley’s logic- and gravity-defying scene in Kyle McLaughlan’s pool to her S&M-soaked relationship with queen Vegas baddie Gina Gershon, the movie’s many absurdist moments instantly won our hearts, and we’ll never forget where we were when we witnessed its glittery, coke-encrusted insanity for the very first time.

And thanks to us, Showgirls may finally be getting its due: not only is the film currently streaming as part of the Razzies collection on the Criterion Channel, The Academy Museum in LA just hosted a screening of the film with an introduction by other than Elizabeth Berkley. In Berkley’s powerful speech, she thanks the queer community for understanding the Showgirls vision from the start.

“I’m so grateful that the film found its way into your hearts,” Berkley told audience members last night, “and especially the LGBTQ community, who stood by the film.” Berkley had to pause, getting choked up in response to the vocal support of the queer viewers in attendance. “You always believed, as did I, and for that I am eternally grateful.”

It was a powerful moment for the film’s legacy, and for Berkley herself, a woman who was mocked, maligned, and ridiculed for decades simply for what misogynistic audiences and critics deemed at the time to be her lack of talent. What they couldn’t see was that Berkley was delivering a completely new kind of performance in Showgirls: the kind of performance that seemed tailored to a queer audience’s exact needs and desires.

But as queer as Berkley’s turn as Nomi Malone will always be, audiences noticed something even queerer about her intro to Showgirls last night.

The look was giving Tár—it was giving butch realness, it was giving icon.

It’s perfect: if Nomi Malone is the definition of the “I support gay rights AND wrongs” meme, Lydia Tár can’t be far behind.

Not only that, but the look is bringing us back to Berkley’s other great queer role, that of Bette’s “straight” ex Kelly Wentworth in The L Word.

What can we say, every little thing she does is iconic, and it’s beautiful to see her and Showgirls finally getting their flowers.

Now the people are calling for a Berkleyssance, and rightly so!

Nomi, you’ll always have a special place in our hearts.

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