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There are two things you can rely on when you watch a cheap porn film: rotten acting and porn. Meanwhile, away from the top shelf, this latest venture into mainstream, mass-market titillation from the Basic Instinct team of director Paul Verhoeven and script-factory Joe Eszterhas has plenty of the former, but - despite appearances - very little of the other.

That it's a good, old-fashioned swiz has already become painfully apparent to those American moviegoers hoodwinked by its controversial (and courted) NC-17 rating, who've voted with their backsides and refused to put any more of them on cinema seats for the sake of what Eszterhas maintains is a non-exploitative insight into the life of a Vegas "lap-dancer".

Nomi Malone (Berkley - you may have seen her in woeful US teen-com Saved By The Bell) begins life at the bottom, as a two-bit stripper, then works her way up to, well, the lap, as "private dancer" at the Cheetah Club, until her big break arrives and she graduates to the chorus line of a major casino show, Goddess, where, still very much unhindered by clothing, she gyrates around a plastic volcano. Along the way to this personal epiphany, she juggles amorous shenanigans with club owner Zack (a ventriloquist's dummy-like McLachlan) and jobless songwriter James (played with near-zero conviction by Glenn Plummer).

It seems over-vigilant to give the plot so much space, since it is little more than a crutch for some admittedly very athletic dancing, and related bosom-jigglage. Dramatically limp (romantic hepcat Plummer plays Berkley a "song he's written for her" and away she goes, slinking around to a tape as if she's only heard it about, ooh, 100 times) and about as genuinely arousing as intricately-choreographed nude livestock, Showgirls would be offensive if it hadn't been hyped ("Leave your inhibitions at the door" winked the US publicity). But it has.