Jun 21 • 6M

A PROGRESSIVE ANALYSIS OF DEMI MOORE’S “STRIPTEASE”

A really silly piece from the mid-nineties, that might not have run anywhere.

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Every seven years, it seems, Demi Moore is expensively chopped, dropped, shaved,  airbrushed and hydraulically re-sexualized for a new demographic of boner-attention.   The X-Box contingent is discovering, today, what the Gen-X boys witnessed before them: Despite Repeated Motherhood, Demi (through a vigorous combination of rude will and 6-digit surgeries) Is Still Fuckable! (see Kutcher, Ashton; Dude, Where’s My Mom?)

In 1996, La Moore was paid $12.5m -- the highest fee any actress had ever been paid, at that point – to unveil her Demispheres in the movie Striptease, to the delight of several sweaty,  jism-clogged fans worldwide.

One cannot say she didn’t prepare for the role: Demi’s first bionic overhaul was just as impressive as her most recent.  As stripper Erin Grant,  Demi might have been fifth runner-up in a Miss Prurient Fitness competition on ESPN2 -- walnut-crushing abs, speedskater legs, deltoids striated as brisket, 6-pack ass, barbeque-glaze tan.

The problem was the tits.

Demi’s breasts in Striptease posed the zen-koan like question: Are your breasts actually exposed if they’re not really yours?

The Striptease tits were new to Demi, who had already gotten a lot of mileage out of her old ones; they had been in Oui magazine in the 80's, revealed to Michael Douglas in 1994’s Disclosure, and on the cover of Vanity Fair twice.  Plus, her nipples had already been thrice-chewed by infants -- hence, she was arguably ready to set them out to pasture and unleash new honkers on the viewing public that she had fewer personal feelings of attachment towards.

As a tabloid aficionado, I happen to know that Pam Anderson speaks to her breast implants affectionately,  addressing them by their Christian names, ‘Bert and Ernie.’

In trying to think up names to anthropomorphize Demi’s Striptease breasts, I rejected Siskel & Ebert,  Andre Gregory & Wallace Shawn, and Tango & Cash before consulting Dickens and naming them Poverty & Ignorance, after the ghoulish urchins who live beneath the robe of Father Christmas.

Unlike Pam or Santa, Demi had no evident love for those tits.

The first time they are fully exposed, ‘Erin’ is supposed to be heartbroken over her custody battle,  and must express her pain through interpretive chrome pole-dancing in a pair of white platform gogo boots.  With all of the extreme unction that the Annie Lennox soundtrack demands, the grieving Demi squats, spreads her thighs, bites her lip and claws at her pudendum, a la Madonna.  On a Flashdance chair, she stands on her head and does the splits.

Then, crawling into the lights, she rips her bra off and thrusts it upwards with trembling hands as if she were St. Bernadette  sacrificing her PG-rating to an unforgiving God.  This gesture results in her fully-exposed new breasts being smashed together with her elbows, for maximum largesse.

Critics enjoyed criticizing them:

“(They) look like door knobs,” said critic Rob Blackwelder. “Decidedly unattractive and wholly unnatural,” wrote Carlo Cavagna.

Indeed, they were round, brown and motionless as plungers, with the usual mylar balloon-puckering around the sternum denoting an implant larger than the skin-bag that contains it.

There is no buildup towards Erin’s first shucking; it happens in the first 15 minutes, suggesting a dearth of basic moviemaking skills among the producers, director and screenwriter.  If the drama was to properly escalate from this point,  Demi would have had to foot-fuck a shemale panda in a vat of creamed-corn in the last 15 minutes. (There actually is mention of creamed-corn wrestling in the script, but it never happens.  I think chapter two in the Syd Field screenwriting manual dictates that if you introduce creamed-corn wrestling in Act One, Demi’s tits must be fouled by niblets in Act III, but, sadly, that is only one of numberless crimes in this clod of cinematic dung).

Demi’s sense of detachment about these tits is as palpable as the breasts themselves look detachable – like velcro-adhesive ostrich-eggs,  which could be taken off and used for a variety of purposes – as oversized shoulderpads, perhaps, or novelty headgear at an office party.

The unloved breasts were removed, during a later Demi renovation,  in favor of smaller implants; nobody knows what became of them.

Castle Rock Entertainment should have taken a cue from Cinemax and had Demi roll around on a fur rug, mock-whacking-off next to a blurry vase of irises.  Then Striptease could have been gone straight to video and been sold on the internet for easy home masturbation,  and might well be a classic of the softcore genre today.  As it stands,  Striptease is merely two oversized object lessons, which we can only hope the new Demi will heed: 

Ignorance of screenwriting-law is no excuse, and Poverty of mind is just as damning as the other kind, 12 mil or no.

Artwork: “Charlene Tilton,” oil on linen, 2020