“I'm gonna dance!”
Nomi Malone has a dream, damn it. With a beat-up suitcase at her feet, she stands with her thumb out at the side of a desert highway, 300-odd miles from her destination: Las Vegas. In under 10 seconds, a pick-up truck pulls over. The driver's doing his very best young Elvis impression. He invites her to sit closer. “Chill!” she exclaims at the mere suggestion. Nomi's from the streets—we can tell by the way she handles herself and that switch blade she whips out to keep Elvis at bay.
You only get that kind of street tough from living on the seedy side of town. That's also where you get a fringed leather jacket like the one Nomi's wearing.
It's nightfall by the time they pull into Vegas. Elvis tells Nomi to leave the Samsonite in the truck. He can help her find a job: “My uncle is a host at the Riviera.” She hangs out in the casino playing slots until it dawns on her he isn't coming back. Nomi runs out to the parking lot where the truck was parked. Elvis has left the building.
Nomi throws her whole body against the car next to her. “F**k! F**k! F**k!” is all she can say as she pounds away at the defenseless Toyota. Played by Elizabeth Berkley, Nomi is leggy and tall, with plump lips that never fully close, saucer eyes and curly blonde hair. She's exactly like an inflatable sex doll, but with less acting talent.
A short black woman runs up to her. “Hey! That's my car!” Stop over-emoting all over it, bitch. They tussle. Nomi turns and pukes for no apparent reason. Perhaps her acting is making her ill too? Nomi runs out into oncoming traffic. The stranger pulls her back just as a car blows by. They stumble to the sidewalk, holding onto each other. Wordlessly, their faces pull close. The stranger hugs puke-breath Nomi. This scene is a bunch of baloney.
What do you do with a crazy woman who assaults your car? Why, buy her dinner, of course. Nomi is still fuming. She jabs her straw into her soda cup like she's cutting someone's heart out.
Cut to six weeks later. Molly and Nomi are sharing a double-wide off the strip, eating chips and sharing clothes. Life is good. And improbable. Molly is a seamstress working for the Stardust Casino's big topless extravaganza, Goddess, sewing G-strings. Why didn't director Paul Verhoeven, or writer Joe Eszterhas, whose other credits include Basic Instinct, use a better hotel for this movie? Perhaps Steve Wynn and that gang wanted nothing to do with this mess?
Nomi accompanies Molly to work. Watching the show from the back of the house, Nomi's eyes light up like a neon sign. A set comprised of props from an old Star Trek alienscape covers the stage, as nearly naked dancers frolic and writhe over the rocks. There's a flash pot bang, and foam boulders “explode” back on their hinges. It's about as realistic as the Earthquake! ride at Universal Studios. Out of the smoke rises Gina Gershon. And she's just about naked. A moment of silence please.
On cue, all the dancers start stripping. Playing the show's “big star,” Cristal Connors, Gina dances passably in the ridiculously choreographed number that looks like a Larry Flynt production of Antigone. Michael Kidd must be rolling over in his grave. Nomi Baloney is enthralled.