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MOVIE BAD GIRL OF THE WEEK: NOMI MALONE

Embrace your inner bad girl with Movie Bad Girl of the Week!

 

Elizabeth Berkley as Nomi Malone in "Showgirls"

Elizabeth Berkley as Nomi Malone in “Showgirls”

 

In 1995 Paul Verhoeven made a movie that promised to take you where no other motion picture ever had before. It was going to cross the line into a new kind of eroticism in film. It was going to be dramatic, sexy, fun and was going to set a new standard for movie fans. The movie was of course “Showgirls.” The movie was a hell of a lot of fun not because of it’s dramatic impact but rather the fact that it was flashy, beautifully shot and much to the studio’s chagrin, campy and over the top. The movie should have curled up and died. Instead it quickly gained a cult following and to this day 18 years later it still has a life all it’s own.  I have chosen Nomi Malone (the main character in this movie) as my Bad Girl of the Week. For those of you that have not seen “Showgirls” here is a very brief synopsis.

Nomi Malone, a girl in her late teens, hitchhikes her way to Las Vegas so she can fulfill her desire to be a dancer in a Vegas hotel show.  She encounters two strangers on this day. One who steals from her and one who helps her.Nomi ends up with a job as an exotic dancer at the Cheetah Club. Her new found friend Molly is the wardrobe mistress for a Vegas show called “Goddess”. Because of Molly she gets to see the show and meet the star, a diva named Cristal Conners. Nomi sees the world that she hungers for. What she does not know is that a power struggle between Cristal and herself is about to begin.

Cristal sees something in Nomi that reminds her of her younger self. Something she admires and on some level something she fears. Cristal arranges for Nomi to be invited for an audition and she gets the coveted spot as a dancer. Cristal and Nomi’s rivalry heats up as she enters a world that is corrupt and where people use and manipulate one another to achieve their own goals. No one is to be trusted and no one is safe. The harder Cristal tries to put her thumb down on Nomi the more aggressive Nomi becomes. Nomi succeeds in her quest trampling the aging diva and becoming the star of the show. This is all leading to an event where Nomi will have to make a life changing decision. Does she do what she knows is right or does she sell her soul and lose herself to hold on to her dream?

 

What can we learn from Nomi Malone?

In the opening of the film Nomi puts her trust in a stranger to give her a ride to Las Vegas. He abandons and robs her of all her worldly possessions that are in a suitcase in his truck. Just a few minutes later she puts her trust in another stranger, Molly Abrams, who offers shelter and friendship. Molly will become the one and only person that Nomi loves or cares about in this world. How does this apply to our lives? People come in and out of our lives at different times for different reasons and at one time everyone of them was a stranger.Even family members are strangers until we meet them.Some people bring our lives unlimited joy. Others will bring us pain and hurt. When someone hurts you does this make you more cautious about the next person you meet? It did with me. I was in a relationship that was abusive. When that relationship was over it took me years to get past the pain I suffered. I would not let anyone get too close because I was sure I was setting myself up for more grief.  I finally did get past it and have a wonderful marriage now, one that is everything I hoped for. What I am trying to get at is this: We cannot blame new people we meet for what someone in our past has done. They are not that person. We have to trust people even if it is a degree at the time. It is okay to have someone earn your trust. We should never deny a person that chance because of someone else’s actions. This applies to all kinds of relationships (i.e. work, social,romantic..) and without relationships the world is a lonely and cold place.

Nomi arrives in  Las Vegas with no family.  She builds her own extended family. It is a small one but they are people that care for her. Molly is Nomi’s best friend, sister and confidant. The other two members of this extended family are parental figures (Keep in mind that Nomi is a teenage girl) Her father figure is her boss at the Cheetah Club, Al Torres. You can see he cares for her and she drives him up the wall like any teenage daughter is capable of. The other is a mother figure. The club’s house mother who also performs naughty, foul-mouthed comedy between the girls’ dance numbers. She is big, bawdy and goes by the name Henrietta “Mama” Bazoom. Both she and Al are sad, hurt and a little confused when Nomi leaves the nest to pursue her Vegas dream. They go to see her in the show at a later point in the film and Henrietta even says she is Nomi’s mother so they can see her after the show. We all have or have had a family. Some of us have no living relatives, some of us have “some” family while others are “The Brady Bunch” and “The Partridge Family” combined. I fall into the “some” category. However I have a very large family. A very large “extended” family. These are people that I have come to know through work, social life and entertainment career. This family is just as dear and important to me emotionally as my natural family. They may not be blood, however they “are” family. We all have extended family. Take some time to think about them. My message here is we are all a bit like Nomi. If we have people in our life that care for us we are never truly alone. The factor here is not blood. It is love, caring and compassion. If you don’t have an extended family start making one now. You’ll thank yourself.

All of Nomi's dreams have come true but at what price? Kyle MacLachlan and Elizabeth Berkley as Zack Carey and Nomi Malone in "Showgirls"

All of Nomi’s dreams have come true but at what price? Kyle MacLachlan and Elizabeth Berkley as Zack Carey and Nomi Malone in “Showgirls”

In the final segments of the film Nomi has become the star of “Goddess” by manipulation of those around her. She believes all her dreams have come true until Molly is brutally raped and beaten at a party thrown in her honor as the new star of “Goddess” At the hospital she is furious because the police have not been called and the only person she truly loves is lying in a hospital bed injured by a singing star named Andrew Carver. She is told that the police will not be called and that she is part of a team. Being she likes Molly they will give her enough money to open a dress shop. Nomi reaches for a pay phone to call when entertainment director (and her lover) Zack Carey reveals to her that he has had her background checked and knows that she is actually Polly Ann Cassell. Her mother was murdered by her dad who then turned the gun on himself. She turned to a life of prostitution as a young teen with no family. She tells Zack she did what she had to. The implied threat is he will go public with this information. He also makes it known through innuendo that no one has to know.He embraces her from behind and tells her that it is okay because she is going to be a huge star and make the Stardust a lot of money. She breaks into tears now as the true horror of the situation becomes clear. She can have her new life as Nomi Malone,Vegas star, IF and ONLY IF she is willing to pay the price. The price is to betray Molly, one of the only people in the world that gives a damn about her. She does not call the police. The next day she goes to Andrew Carver’s hotel suite and beats him within inches of his life. She knows she has to leave Las Vegas before she can be arrested for her actions. She stops by to see Molly one last time and let her know what she did. She leaves Molly with “I Love You” as parting words. She also stops in to make peace with Cristal who she injured badly to take her spot in the show. Nomi leaves Vegas with her dream now tarnished. She leaves the way she arrived. Hitchhiking with all her possessions in a single suitcase heading into an unsure future.

1. Nomi is the identity that Polly created to begin a new life and hide a shady past. We all have things in our past that we would rather leave behind. I myself have things in my life that I am not proud of. For a long time I hid things about myself and/or my past. Some of it came back to bite me on the ass. Trust me, no matter how careful you are: There is always a chance of being confronted with these things. I now own my past. It is harder for someone to throw something in your face if you are already claiming it.

2. How far are you willing to go for something you desire? Are you willing to sell your soul? Or do want to be true to what you know is right? Be very sure of what you wish for because you may get it. All that glitters in not gold.  There are things we all want. What we need to keep in mind is there is a right way and a wrong way to achieve these things. Use sound judgement and always be true to yourself. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in like Nomi does. You may get your desires and lose yourself in the process.  If that is the price you must pay look into yourself and ask “Is it worth it?”

Nomi is young, ambitious and self-empowered. She is not entirely ethical, is an opportunist and is very manipulative of those around her if it will get her closer to achieving her goal. She does have the ability to love, however, that is not enough. Nomi is not a good role model, nor should she be looked upon as one. But as with every movie bad girl (good or bad) there are lessons to be learned.

Until next time Embrace Your Inner Bad Girl because being bad feels so damn good!

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