The people of Peoria weigh in on the racy Elizabeth Berkley flick

Showgirls kicked off its opening weekend at Peoria’s Willow Knolls 14 Theater for a small, mainly male bunch of 20- and 30-year-olds. Those who didn’t beat a hasty retreat after the credits rolled proved what we’d guessed about the movie’s appeal — it’s a guy thang — and disproved screenwriter Joe Eszterhas’ prediction that they’d find it a religious experience. Though some said Showgirls did show them a few things they hadn’t seen before — like one TV ingenue’s private parts — the ”light” didn’t seem to be one of them.

David Chen, 23, student ”You might see this stuff in strip clubs in Vegas, but I don’t think things go this far in Peoria. But maybe I haven’t gone to the right ones.”

Mary Welch, 41, diamond technician ”There was all sorts of hype, but the movie doesn’t deliver.”

Jason Maynard, 22, student ”The nudity is shocking, but we’re supposed to be the MTV generation — open to that kind of stuff. As for the Saved by the Bell girl — she’s my hero, man.”

Shane Boyd, 25, computer technician ”I used to work at a strip club, so I wasn’t bothered by it. If anything, the movie was a little tame. I think I’d label a lot of the blood-and-guts movies NC-17 before I would this one.”

Pamela Houston, 35, dietitian ”It’s entertaining, but all those absolutely perfect bodies bothered me. In the sleazier places you’re going to encounter some women with cellulite and sagging breasts.”

Jaime White, 19, waitress ”Jessie from Saved by the Bell in a role like this? She was a good dancer, but it was a little shocking.”

James Ross, 18, student ”My dad wanted to see it, but I thought it was boring. My friends would get a kick out of it, because you don’t see that every day.”

Tricia Allen, 21, nail technician ”It was far too explicit. There’s no way I’d take my parents.”

Jim Volk, 57, truck driver ”I didn’t find it all that sexual. It was pretty tame for my tastes.”

Jean Boyd, systems analyst ”The nudity was too much. By the end, you’d seen so many breasts, you didn’t even notice anymore.”

Mitch Robinson, 32, TV promotions director ”To see Tiffani-Amber Thiessen smoke pot on Beverly Hills, 90210 was one thing, but Elizabeth Berkley as a stripper far surpasses that. It’s like watching The Bell Girls Go Bad.”

Gene Tanquilut, 31, physician ”I’m going to Las Vegas for my bachelor party. Showgirls has made me think about that trip in a whole new light.”

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