'Thank you for giving me strength and confidence in becoming the woman that I am'

By Christopher Rosen
Updated June 28, 2015 at 08:29 PM EDT
Maybe it would have been less fontrum -y if Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) had been wearing Ver-sace.
Credit: Murray Close
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Elizabeth Berkley has discussed how difficult the response to Showgirls was her back when the film was released in 1995 — speaking to Ellen DeGeneres in 2013, Berkley called the virulent criticisms “cruel” — but on Saturday night, the actress publicly embraced the film before an anniversary screening in Los Angeles.

Calling the event — a screening of Showgirls as part of Cinespia’s Hollywood Forever Cemetery outdoor screening series — 20 years in the making, Berkley praised Showgirls fans for keeping the film alive and helping her come to terms with its response.

“I had the most extraordinary experience making the film. When a dream is happening, it’s unlike anything you can ever imagine. Which is why when the movie came out it was more painful than anything you can imagine,” Berkley said. “I’m not going to spend a lot of time on that moment, because why do that? We don’t live in the past. I’m just bringing it up for a point to tell you that 1995 was such a different time, where taking risks like that were not embraced. They were laughed at. They were shamed publicly. To be a young girl in the center of that was something that was quite difficult. But I found my own resiliency and my power and my confidence — not only through what I had to find out, but because of you guys.”

In the years since Showgirls, Berkley wrote Ask Elizabeth to help young women navigate growing up and high school. Berkley was 23 when she played Nomi Malone in Showgirls, but told the crowd on Saturday night that she couldn’t enjoy the film’s initial premiere because of the negative attacks against the film.

“So tonight is this magical circle moment, where I actually didn’t get to experience the sweetness of a screening with a crowd that embraced it,” she said. “Tonight I want to thank you guys for giving me this gift of truly getting a full-circle moment of experiencing the joy with you. You guys and the love you have for this movie have made this the cult film that it is. Thank you so much.

“I really do want you to know this movie is something I love, but I love it because you love it too,” she continued. “Whether this film has been your guilty pleasure, whether you have played ‘Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl,’ or whether Nomi’s own plight and her fight and struggle has become your own anthem in your life, I hope that it’s brought you comfort, I hope that it’s brought you joy, I hope that you have made incredible memories with your friends watching it cozy on your couch. I hope you’ve over-lined your lips and put glitter on like crazy. I hope when you eat your french fries you go crazy like Nomi.”

Berkley closed her remarks by thanking the fans who have supported her over the years, “for giving me strength and confidence in becoming the woman that I am.”

“Nomi hitchhiked her way to Los Angeles,” Berkley said. “If this is where she ended up, this is not bad.”

On Instagram, Berkley praised the film’s fans for writing a “new chapter to this story.”

She also posted video of her oft-quoted “Versace” scene from the film.


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