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‘Showgirls’ star Elizabeth Berkley (!) writes a self-help book for girls

April 15, 2010

Elizabeth Berkley

The mind boggles. What’s next? Weight loss tips from Paul Prudhomme? Marriage advice from Charlie Sheen? Graceful Retirement, by Bret Farve? Lady Gaga’s Guide to Elegant Deportment Donald Trump’s Spirituality Handbook?

I could shoot the fish in this barrel the livelong day, and so could you. But Berkley, who played a robotic exotic dancer in Showgirls, has apparently remade herself into an expert on self-esteem for teenage girls while the rest of us weren’t paying attention.

Titled Ask Elizabeth, Berkley’s book is scheduled to come out next spring from Penguin Young Readers Group.

The story goes like this: Berkley’s husband, Greg Lauren (a soap actor-turned-successful artist and nephew of Ralph Lauren –really, I couldn’t make this stuff up), remarked that everywhere she went girls asked her for advice. Presto-change-o, before you know it, Berkley had a website and was, apparently, touring the country hosting self-esteem seminars with small groups of girls.

This raises more questions than it answers. To wit: Why would adolescent girls approach an actress who seems to have exactly one facial expression and share their most secret insecurities? (Visit her website, Ask-Elizabeth if you want to play the game “Find a second expression!”).  How did these pioneering girls get access to Berkley? Is this story ever going to make sense?

I will give Berkley credit: Her website is cleverly constructed, if overly cute — but what do I know? Maybe it’s just the thing that appeals to teens confused about body image, dating, parents or whatever.

In the years since Berkley set up shop in 2006 as a guru for girls, she’s gained credibility with grown women. She’s been on TV with Oprah, “The View,” and elsewhere. Her website boasts testimonials from Hayden Panetierre, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner, Fergie, Sarah Michelle Geller, Naomi Wolf (!) and other celebrities.

In the interests of investigative journalism, I examined Berkely’s site and it seems at least harmless, and possibly helpful. The only thing I could find objectionable (before I overdosed on the color pink and fled) is the explicit assumption today’s parents can’t relate to the pressures facing today’s girls (but a washed-up 37-year-old actress can).

This, of course, is hogwash. Girls have wrestled with the same pressures to be pretty, thin and compliant at least since the days of Evelyn Nesbit. The key problem isn’t that parents don’t understand kids, but that they don’t give them enough time and attention.

Otherwise, I seem to lack the standing to pass judgment on Berkley’s new career as a self-help avatar for girls. Does anyone out there have experience with her program? Is it possible for an actress who still looks like a teenager herself to be a good role model? Is your mind still reeling?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Tommy Smart permalink
    April 15, 2010 11:46 am

    I have a couple of free moments this morning, so I’ll bite.

    The flash animations on Ask-Elizabeth are annoying, like totally. I remember Berkley most from a little television show called “Saved By The Bell”. On this show she was the tall girl. Yes, the dreaded tall girl, who always felt strange and different and goofy because of her tallness. Maybe this role is why girls look to her for advice. “Liz, how did you handle being tall, how did you survive in the make-believe world of Bayside, Is Slater a good kisser, Was Mr. Belding ever inappropriate?” The best episode of Saved… ever was the one where Berkeley’s character Jesse in an attempt to balance getting good marks on finals, maintaining a loving relationship with Slater, winning the Dance Contest gets hooked on methamphetamine. So surely there is some advice for youngsters on the perils of drug use, right? Wrong. What I did learn is that “Lip Gloss is the key to Life, Lip Gloss is the juice of Life.” and I am not Juicy.

    Chauncey, I sometimes envy that you and John K. have daughters and get a chance to be good Dads, but not today. I do however, salute you both.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 15, 2010 4:51 pm

      Tommy, I’m either too old or too young for Saved by the Bell, so I never saw any of its gifted cast members on the show. I’ve seen enough of Showgirls to know its reputation for stupidity and sleaze is well earned. I don’t wish to rush to judgment regarding Berkley’s qualification as a role model for girls. But parents may want to google stills of her Showgirls dance routines.

  2. April 15, 2010 12:08 pm

    Just the facts Mam. I must see her show before I comment. I have to find the facts. Any tickets available out there. Tommy?

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 15, 2010 4:52 pm

      Showgirls is available from Blockbuster, Netflix, and not infrequently on HBO or Showtime.

  3. John Karwacki permalink
    April 15, 2010 12:26 pm

    Evelyn Nesbit? Could you have sighted a more obscure reference point for me Chauncey? By the way, you owe me for the clothes I’ve soiled rolling around on the floor laughing.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 15, 2010 4:55 pm

      Aw, c’mon, John. What cultured individual of middle years has not either read Ragtime, or at least seen the inferior movie made from it? Evelyn Nesbit, according to some culture critics, was the first modern celebrity sex symbol. But surely you knew that already. As for your clothes, pal, you’re on your own.

  4. April 15, 2010 12:53 pm

    Nesbit? Go farther back if you’re looking for femme fatales to rival sweet Evelyn. Go to 19th century Russia and the most beautiful airhead to ever bed Pushkin, the much celebrated Natalie who got the poor bastard killed in a duel. Dear Ask-Elizabeth, if you want fame, take note: the Rooskies still haven’t gotten over it.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 15, 2010 4:56 pm

      Yes, Duff, but did Natalie have that scary cyborgian stare Berkley sports in almost all her photos?

  5. Marco Quesada permalink
    November 13, 2010 3:10 pm

    Elizabeth’s great acting in several films I’ve seen, this of course together with its beauty.

  6. February 10, 2011 9:59 am

    Im searching for the net searching for exactly how to do this blog site thing as well as your website is nearly certainly really impressive.

  7. June 22, 2011 7:30 am

    I and also my guys appeared to be viewing the good information and facts located on your web site and so immediately came up with a terrible feeling I had not thanked you for those tips. Those boys had been as a result passionate to learn them and have now really been having fun with those things. We appreciate you genuinely simply helpful and also for opting for varieties of remarkable themes millions of individuals are really desirous to learn about. My personal sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

  8. March 24, 2012 9:45 am

    To criticize the lovely Ms Berkley encouraging young women anyway she can demonstrates a crass lack of support needed to be worthwhile. So you can’t stand pink reveals too thin of a skin to be dishing out so much negativity. It’s too late to admit that your assessment may be questionable after so many insults. .

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