Few things are as outlandishly bad (and therefore funny) as 1995’s “Showgirls”—unless you count the diary entries of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, excerpted in his recent memoir, “Hollywood Animal.” In all seriousness, he envisioned the movie as a realistic tale about the gritty world of Las Vegas boob shakers. “I’m going to call her Nomi,” he wrote, naming the main character, a trashy, abrasive hellcat with showgirl ambitions, after his wife, Naomi Eszterhas. For the role of Cristal, Nomi’s female nemesis, he briefly considered Sharon Stone, star of another Eszterhas-scripted movie, “Basic Instinct.” The idea is quickly nixed when he wonders: “Can Sharon dance? Vertically?” Elizabeth Berkley (permanently squashing her nerdy girl rep from “Saved by the Bell”) and Gina Gershon ended up in the roles, and any concerns about dancing ability proved unnecessary—both women are topless (or nearly so) in every scene as they rip through some of the cheesiest dialogue this side of Velveeta. In 2002, a few drunken pals got together and created a parody of the movie called “Sock Puppet Showgirls,” hosted by Harvey Finklestein, a fictitious, foul-mouth puppet MC with a bad British accent. It became something of an underground hit, and the troupe has re-launched the homemade burlesque for a brief local run before heading out to the New York Fringe Fest next month. Clever, perverted and flat-out stupid, the show is like an XXX-rated “South Park” episode populated by the entire cast of “Jackass.” “I’m so patriotic, I’m shitting stars and stripes,” Finklestein deadpanned during the July 4th weekend opening. For some reason, hearing a puppet utter the words “felching” and “fisting-for-dollars” is funny. It helps if you’re familiar with the movie—and somewhat soused when you see the show. “Welcome to Vegas,” a puppet merrily chirps, “Sooner or later, you’re gonna have to sell it.” Now that’s a motto. (Nina Metz)
“Sock Puppet Showgirls” plays at The Theatre Building, 1255 West Belmont, (773)327-5252, through July 31.