It was a long time coming. But finally the wait, the tease, is over. Striptease, the Safeway Supermarket, made-for-TV, paint-by-numbers sitcom has landed, belly up, on the American summer-movie-going public like a bloated fish out of water. And if the Kentucky-Fried-Chicken-eating, mouth-breathing hordes have any sense, they will throw it right back at the geniuses who uncorked this cinematic brain fart.

Hopefully, after suffering through Demi Moore’s one-dimensional performance as Erin Grant – the woman who’s only stripping to regain custody of her daughter, we can all, pah-lease, just get over Demi Moore. With three flops in a row (The Juror, The Scarlet Letter, and now Stripcheeze) maybe the media will finally give us shelter from the Demi Moore Blitzkrieg Publicity Machine.

But can Demi dance? In her three principal numbers, she performs to stale music (Annie Lennox was cool back in the `80s) with an angry, kung-fu fighting style that looks like she’s out to destroy anyone who would dare criticize her or Bruce (Die Hard hubby) and their wonderful life. College cheerleaders have more sex appeal than Moore. Sure, she unveils about 90% of her hard body, sculpted by the best trainers money can buy. And we finally get to see a few moments of Demi’s expensive “Beverly Hills.” But long before the credits roll, this writer could only say, “Who cares?” Or, as my real stripper companion said, “I’m only watching this because it’s in front of my face.”

Director Andrew Bergman has pulled a few funny, quirky, engaging original screenplays out of his butt with Honeymoon in Vegas, The Freshman and Blazing Saddles. But here, adapting a novel by Carl Hiaasen, Bergman goes for the kind of slapstick, sightgags and schtick that worked in his screenplay adaptation of Fletch, riding the comedic talent of the still-hungry Chevy Chase. But there’s no comedic talent, no sex appeal, dancing appeal and no hunger in Moore’s ho-humm, just another 12.5 million dollar day at the office performance. Burt Reynold’s decent performance as the sleazy southern congressman is not enough to save the day. If Bergman had just made a Burt Reynolds film with a nobody filling in Moore’s part he could have possibly salvaged a grade B comedy and saved at least 12.5 million dollars.

The film starts out with Demi doing her I’m-so-self-righteously-angry routine (that we’ve all seen a million times before) at the custody hearing for her daughter. A corrupt judge grants custody to Erin’s (Demi) deadbeat, white trash, loser criminal ex-husband, Darrel (Robert Patrick). How did super mom, Saint Demi ever wind up marrying a guy like him in the first place? The former FBI secretary, Erin, struts out of the courtroom and on to the stage of the Eager Beaver so she can earn the 15 large she needs for an appeal. No sweat. Just get up there and do the same moves she does in the bathroom while blow drying her hair. In no time, a star is born at the Eager Beaver. She’s strong, she’s powerful, she’s independent and unrepentant; she’s the Super Perfect Stripper Mom.

But Congressman Dilbeck (Reynolds) stumbles into the simplistic plot and tries to make things interesting with his obsession for Erin and his blackout behavior which prompts him to hit a grabbing-for-Erin customer over the head with a champagne bottle. The champagne clubbing aborts Erin’s first strip tease number just as she’s about to get down to business. How convenient. When...or will...Demi take off her top and T-back? The suspense (and that’s the only suspense this film could muster) was killing me.

Someone snaps some pictures of Congressman Dilbeck defending his Demi-gawd and the saccharine plot congeals around attempts to blackmail Dilbeck weeks away from re-election. Meanwhile, Erin snatches her daughter (played by Moore’s real life daughter, Rumer, who steals every scene from her own mother) away from her wheelchair stealin’ ex-husband and falls under the protective eye of a homicide detective (Armande Assante, lousy as a good guy) investigating the murder of the first Dilbeck blackmailer. Of course, Detective Al Garcia doesn’t even bat an eye at Erin’s illegal custody. He’s just there to save her from all the baddies that get in Super Perfect Stripper Mom’s way.

This low-cal cotton candy, PG-13 fare (although it’s rated R for very brief nudity) muddles along to its slapped on slapstick ending, looking like a life raft thrown together by the rats deserting this sinking ship of a movie. A schizophrenic on thorazine could come up with a more plausible finale than this one. Along the way, Bergman throws monkeys, snakes, Dilbeck’s lint fetish, Pandora Peaks’ 72HHH breasts and anything else he can find (besides Demi’s dancing) at the audience to keep them awake. Still, I would not hesitate to recommend caffeine products to help you make it to the end of this slow carnival ride.

Given all the hype that has bludgeoned the public since shooting began on Striptease in September of `95, we can all give a sigh for three reasons: (1) it’s finally out, (2) it should be forgotten by the Fourth of July, and (3) it’s not as bad as Ishtar.

Ever sleep with someone because they happened to be in your bed? The sex was okay, just another night minus the predictable thumping quickly forgotten before you hit REM. Ahhh, sweet Striptease. The overblown sensation that will pass like the two cups of coffee the morning you drank it. Got to hand it to Demi though, she hustled Hollywood out of 12 mil like no dancer I’ve ever met. Just forget about the cootchie shot- this Sunday Night TV Movie got lost in shipment and was mistaken for a C-, two-hour hoo-ha fit for the BIG screen.

Demi did have one pair of shoes to die for; all white 5 inch platform boots that laced up just under the knee. A knock out.

And watch out Travolta, I declare this movie as Burt Reynold’s comeback. This guy kills me with his blonde wigs, Floridian twang and big ass smile. He greases the screen with that politician sex slime I crave for in a movie that will hit video stores before the dollar theaters.

This movie deserves credit because it doesn’t lend itself for the real reason strip clubs are in a script: to let the audience know the plot is getting sleazy. If only our job was as exciting as it is traditionally portrayed. Striptease shows a mother in the midst of a custody battle with her whacked out white trash thieving ex-husband. She needs to pay the lawyer, so she dances topless.

It’s only hilarious that droves of the American public will pay $7 to see Demi’s tits and will walk out bored to tears by the normalcy of the woman behind her profession. Not that there aren’t quirky moments and funny one-liners. See a matinee. Or have someone else pay your way. Better yet, recommend this flick to family members who are convinced you work in a donkey show whore house equipped with mounds of cocaine, crack pipes and track marks. This movie may change some minds.

– Teresa of “Danzine”

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This is reprinted from Exotic Magazine © 1996 X Publishing