A long time ago Don Simpson, Jerry Bruckheimer, Joe Eszterhas, and I compiled our substantially masculine Hollywood power together and made a porno called Fleshdance. It was about a girl who strips at night while working at a blue collar factory by day. Her dream is to become a professional stripper, but her lower middle class background keeps her from knowing which influential Hollywood types to screw. Will she figure it out in time to make her big break?
Our porno dreams were never meant to be, however. We made the film, but no one would release it except porno companies, and we didn’t want to be associated with those types. In the end we had to scrap the porn and scrape together whatever stupid film we could from the B-rolls. This unwanted Frankenstein of a film would be renamed Flashdance; it would go on to make ten billion dollars and change the way girls wear sweatshirts for a whole two years.
Jennifer Beals plays Flash, the head welder at a Pittsburgh spark factory. Since the film is not a porno, we never find out how she got the job or why they keep her on when she clearly doesn’t know what welding is. Flashdance simply assumes that no one in America knows anything about industrial work. As it turns out, that is a correct assumption. She just makes sparks all day and no one tells her to go home or read a manual.
At night, Jennifer Biel “dances” at a “dance bar” where people pay money to watch sexy women perform avant garde dance pieces which do not end with nudity. It’s dark and cosmopolitan and yet there is this Super Mario looking stereotype (Ron Jeremy) cooking customers cheeseburgers and fries. Two of the three dancers are hot 80’s lesbians. Robert Wuhl is seen twice in the audience but has no lines in the finished film. Without the porno context this bar makes no goddamn sense at all.
When Jennifer Alba is not working or dancing, she is at home exercising. Her exercise routine is a strict regimen of humping the floor and licking her lips. Flashdance simply assumes that no one in America knows anything about aerobic exercise. As it turns out, that is a correct assumption. I’ve heard theories that Flashdance‘s wide use as a workout video is the primary cause of our current obesity epidemic. I disagree, but only because I choose not to see junk in the trunk as an epidemic.
At this point, we are thirty minutes into Flashdance. The ratio of narrative to music video is about 1:9 which is a great ratio for porn, but sort of weird for a feature film. After all that crazy set up, it’s finally time to introduce Flashdance‘s one measly plot thread.
See, Jennifer Animeface has a dream to dance (not strip) for the American Ballet Academy (not for a high-end urban escort service). Her dream is a longshot for two reasons: one, she is just a blue collar welder with no glamor, money, or high-class connections. And two, she has a rather disgusting sweating problem. When she shakes her head (a dancing must) drops of sweat rain out of her like a rotating sprinkler system. It’s so bad that sometimes she must pull a string to shower herself in the middle of performances.
To solve problem number one, she starts sleeping with her boss, a man so rich that he can support a metalworking site filled with hot women who have no idea what they’re doing. She seduces him by inviting him to her place, feeding him cold pizza, and removing her bra without taking off her sweatshirt. He tells her he always wanted to fuck a stripper; she tells him she always wanted to fuck a guy who looks like Chris Sarandon. Everybody’s happy. She sweats a lot during sex but that’s okay. She has a little shower string she can pull above her bed, and it made for a really dramatic pornographic sex scene that we had to cut, but that’s okay. Ten million twelve year olds made this movie profitable, so eveything’s okay.
He gets her an audition, but she has to earn her way beyond that. This leads to problem number two, the sweating. She knows she can dance well enough, but she also knows no one will hire a dancer who flings salt water all over the stage like a Girl-Gallagher. Her answer is to dance and exercise for 48 hours leading up to the audition. She sweats out everything she’s got and refuses all beverages. By the time she auditions, she is dry and beautiful!!! I’ve heard theories that this aspect of Flashdance is the primary cause of our current Anorexia epidemic. I disagree, but only because I think bulimia is so much easier.
How does it end? Well, I don’t know. She dances well and doesn’t sweat, but we never see her actually get accepted because the whole thing turns into a climactic orgy, and we didn’t film anything else. Instead it just freezes on Jessica Beals’ smiling face. Let’s just call it a happy ending minus the details.
In fact, let’s call Flashdance itself an entity without detail, cause that’s what it is. We’re all glad we made tons of money off it, but its success was more than a little confusing and, ultimately, depressing. After Flashdance, Hollywood cynicism took over when it came to teenagers; they really would watch anything so long as it had tits and an immediately dated soundtrack. The braingloves were officially off. I’ve heard theories that Flashdance is the primary cause of our current low-culture epidemic. I disagree, but only because I know which side my bread is buttered.