Showgirls is a 1995 American drama film written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Paul Verhoeven. It stars former teen actress Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, and Gina Gershon. The film centers on a "street-smart" drifter who ventures to Las Vegas and climbs the seedy hierarchy from stripper to showgirl. Produced on a then-sizable budget of approximately $45 million, significant controversy and hype surrounding the film's amounts of sex and nudity preceded its theatrical release. In the United States, the film was rated NC-17 for "nudity and erotic sexuality throughout, some graphic language and sexual violence." Showgirls was the first (and to date only) NC-17 rated film to be given a wide release in mainstream theaters. Distributor United Artists dispatched several hundred staffers to theaters across North America playing Showgirls in order to ensure that patrons would not be sneaking into the theater from other films, and to make sure the film-goers were over the age of 17.