Up until about a month ago, I had shamefully never seen Showgirls. I say shamefully because I love Paul Verhoeven and have seen most of his American films and a few of his earlier European films as well. I was prompted to watch the movie when I knew I would be interviewing Jeffrey McHale, the director of You Don’t Nomi, a film about the afterlife of the critically panned film, where it was resurrected from the cinematic trash-heap and relegated a cult classic. I’m so glad I saw both films because firstly, the Kyle McLachlan/Elizabeth Berkley sex scene in Showgirls is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Secondly, You Don’t Nomi shows us the rise of the once-maligned NC-17 masterwork through the people who appreciate it the most. Here’s my discussion with Jeffrey McHale about his film. Please check it out, and if you haven’t seen Showgirls already, trust me, it’s worth it!
I really enjoyed You Don’t Nomi and I had never seen Showgirls before…
Jeffery McHale: Oh, wow!
Yeah, so I watched it probably a week before I watched your movie and…there’s so much I could say about it, but I wanted to ask you, when did your own personal journey with Showgirls start?
I came to it late in life. Sooner than you did, but I was a little too young when it was in theaters. It was about ten years after it came out, and it had already kind of become a queer cult classic. I was just hanging out with a friend one night in a Chicago apartment, and Showgirls came up, and he was like, “Oh, you haven’t seen it? We’re watching this right now!” My mind was kind of blown, and I don’t know why it had taken me so long. I think maybe I thought I knew what it was about. It was just one of those things that wasn’t really on my radar.
“…the perfect opportunity to work on something myself for personal reasons and see what would happen with it…”
Yeah, same here.
Yeah, my mind was blown. It’s one of those films that you can’t re-create. It succeeds because of its failures, and that’s so unique and so special because you see so many films. So many great films, so many amazing films and I usually never need to see them again. Showgirls is one of those interesting things where every time you circle back to it, something new or something interesting pops out. Once I started speaking with the contributors and reading all these interesting perspectives and experiences with it, I thought, “maybe there’s something here.” (I had my) day job as an editor, (and this is) my first feature film. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to work on something myself for personal reasons and see what would happen with it, without setting any sort of expectations for myself. I was able to edit on weekends and evenings and parse out time over a year and a half to edit it after the interviews were done. We didn’t shoot anything in the making of it. I just interviewed the contributors over Skype and had sent them an audio kit to record, to mic themselves up, so we had good audio on there. Once the interview was done, they’d ship the kit back to me, so it was a very nerve-wracking few days waiting for the audio to come.