Showgirls with David Schmader
Upon its 1995 release, Paul Verhoeven’s glitzy stripper drama Showgirls earned some of the most extravagantly awful reviews in cinema history. “A film of thunderous oafishness,” wrote Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, with critics around the globe unanimously damning Showgirls as a failure doomed to die in infamy.
Only it didn’t. Since its original release, Showgirls has grown into a full-fledged cult phenomenon, thanks in no small part to the cinematic missionary work undertaken by David Schmader, the critically acclaimed writer and performer who hosted his first annotated screenings of the film at Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum in 1999. Part art-appreciation lecture, part sit-down comedy routine, all against the backdrop of Verhoeven’s peerlessly offensive, flesh-drenched disaster, SHOWGIRLS with David Schmader was an instant hit, packing theaters in Seattle and touring to film festivals across the country, with Schmader reintroducing Verhoeven’s hideous folly to a generation of filmgoers as the most inadvertent, surreally hilarious comedy in film history.
In 2003, Schmader’s theory was confirmed by MGM Studios, which invited Schmader to record his commentary for a special-edition, 10th anniversary Showgirls DVD box set, which was released to acclaim in 2003. (But nothing can top the live show, featuring an audience of aghast others and an annotation-providing host who skips the rape scene.)
About David Schmader
David Schmader is the author of the solo plays Straight, Letter to Axl, and A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem, which he has performed in Seattle and across the U.S. Since 1998, Schmader has worked for The Stranger, the Seattle newsweekly where he's an associate editor and columnist, writing the pop culture-and-politics column "Last Days." In his spare time, Schmader is the world's foremost authority on Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven's brilliantly horrible 1995 stripper drama.