||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2009)|
Rena Riffel at 7th Annual WeHo Awards, 2008
|Born||Rena Lynn Riffel
March 5, 1969 
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Occupation||Actress, dancer, singer, model, director, producer, writer, composer|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rena Riffel.|
Rena Riffel (born March 5, 1969) is an American actress, singer, dancer, model, writer, producer, and director. She is known for her supporting roles in films such as Showgirls, Striptease, and Mulholland Drive.
- 1 Childhood and early career
- 2 Showgirls
- 3 Striptease
- 4 Mulholland Drive
- 5 Czechsploitation, erotica and horror
- 6 Musical work and other projects
- 7 Filmography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Childhood and early career
||This section possibly contains original research. (December 2009)|
Rena Riffel was born in Los Angeles, California, United States. When she was two years old her family moved from Playa Del Rey to Atascadero. Her father’s side of the family came from the music business and vaudeville in South Bend, Indiana and included a father who studied tap dancing and acrobatic ballet, a grandmother who was an accomplished singer, and a great grandmother who was a professional opera singer. Her mother is an accomplished accordion player and has performed with Myron Floren and Lawrence Welk.
From an early age, Riffel enjoyed horseback riding, competing in rodeo barrel racing, and acting in home productions with her brother Todd. Performing in her first dance recital at age four, Riffel continued to study ballet, jazz, and tap. She also began taking vocal lessons and sang in a children’s all-girl group who performed locally at church events.
At age 11, she landed her first acting and dance part in a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Paso Robles Playhouse. Riffel’s parents began driving her down to Los Angeles at age 15 to take acting classes for commercials and to attend acting seminars. Riffel also excelled as a cheerleader and was appointed head song leader and choreographer for Atascadero High School during her senior year.
In 1987, the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce chose Riffel as Miss Atascadero to compete in the San Luis Obispo Mid-State Fair Pageant where she was crowned Princess of the Mid-State Fair. After graduating high school, Riffel briefly enrolled in college where she was a pre-med major, but left early on in order to pursue an acting career. She moved to Los Angeles where she auditioned for dance parts, modeled for Catalina Swimwear, and landed a handful of minor roles in movies and television. Riffel began studying acting with Floyd Levine and dance with Marguerite Derricks. She auditioned at the Rodunsky School of Dance where she earned a scholarship.
Riffel landed her first film role in the horror thriller film Satan’s Princess (1990) with Academy Award nominated Robert Forster. During this time, Riffel also recorded a demo and was signed to Mercury/Polygram records by Ed Eckstein. Her record was unreleased.
Riffel had minor roles on the television series Freshman Dorm and in the film Batman Returns as one of the Penguin’s Girls. She landed her first featured role opposite Patrick Stewart in the 1994 action movie Gunmen. She was also featured in the made for TV movie Sinatra playing May Britt, the wife of Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as the television series Quantum Leap. Riffel also began modeling for Robinsons-May and appeared in a Clio Award and Telly Award winning Fantastic Sams commercial, both of which contributed to her recognition.
Riffel then began studying the Meisner Technique at Playhouse West.
While working on her music, Riffel was asked to sing a song called "Spaceeba" for the 1992 film Back in the USSR. She was invited to visit the set in Moscow, Russia where she played the song to the Russian audience and received a standing ovation.
Riffel booked her first lead role as twins Meg/Julie Hudson in the 1994 independent film Art Deco Detective directed by Phillippe Mora, which screened at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. She also landed the role of Rain in the 1995 thriller Undercover Heat, which opened at #1 in the U.K.
Riffel landed her breakthrough role in the 1995 film Showgirls starring Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon, and Kyle MacLachlan. Initially reading for the lead role of Cristal Connors, Riffel was cast in the supporting role of Penny/Hope after director Paul Verhoeven decided that she was too young to play an aging showgirl.
While on the set of Showgirls, Riffel approached the music supervisor with a song she recorded, "Deep Kiss". The music supervisor tested the song on the production office (without telling them it had been written by one of the actresses) to determine if it was suitable for the film. Director Paul Verhoeven listened to the song and decided to include it in the lap dance scene at the Cheetah strip club.
Although an initial box office failure, Showgirls enjoyed success in the home video market, generating more than $100 million in video rentals and became one of MGM's top 20 all-time best sellers.
For the 2004 re-release as a DVD limited edition box set, Riffel, along with cast members Lin Tucci and Patrick Bristow, had their hand prints and names put in cement in front of the Hollywood Vista Theater at the red carpet event where they were also interviewed by Access Hollywood. Riffel and Bristow were also special guests at Peaches Christ's Midnight Mass midnight screening of Showgirls in 2008 in San Francisco, California. They were interviewed on stage after the live performance of the Goddess volcano dance performed by drag queens in gold lamé and featuring Peaches Christ as Goddess.
When asked if she expected Showgirls to produce such a cult legacy, Riffel replied, "No. I went into it thinking it would be a really erotic, serious, shocking exposé. People would be sitting on the edge of their seats from suspense. [... But] some people were trying to play straight comedy – I played my character with comedy, I was hoping to get a laugh – but no one was acting with tongues in cheeks. I know that everyone went into it thinking it would be like Basic Instinct. [...] Maybe it's Verhoeven. Even [Basic Instinct] seems kind of campy now [...] I think it's something with European filmmakers. I think – and this is my theory – [...] that there's something that European filmmakers have, a punched-up, extreme vibe. Everything's extreme."
She is also quoted as saying, "Showgirls just keeps getting more and more popular, it's a total phenomenon. I don't think a film could even try to have this afterlife happen to it. This cult status and celebration is all created by the fans and the people who saw something special in the film. I seem to be one of the only actors that represents and gets involved with the cult status. I think Elizabeth (Berkley) is still upset about how the film was received initially. I think she is brilliant in her role and she should have won best actress at some film festivals, and I think Joe Eszterhas's writing is remarkably brilliant. I suspect because the way they marketed the film, that is what led to the backlash. The marketing campaign was misleading. But at the end of the day, it all worked out for the best."
A sequel to Showgirls was announced in Entertainment Weekly magazine in its July 23, 2010 issue. Rena wrote, directed and starred in the film, released in 2011. Initially entitled Showgirl, it was later renamed Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven. It is a follow-up to Showgirls (1995) and inspired by the original.
Following her role in Showgirls, Riffel was cast in Striptease starring Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds. Showgirls was generally disliked and the filmmakers feared people would pre-judge Striptease on this basis. To avoid any association between the two films, advertisements were designed to make Striptease look more comedic than Showgirls, which was marketed as a drama. Besides the subject matter, Striptease and Showgirls did have two notable connections: the choreography in these films were by the same person, Marguerite Derricks; and both also featured performances by Rena Riffel.
Widely considered a box office failure, Striptease lacked the momentum that Showgirls gained in its cult status and has subsequently been referred to as one of the worst movies ever made.
In 2001, Riffel appeared in the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive. When interviewed about the film and if she “got it”, Riffel replied, “See…I can’t remember. No, I guess it still doesn’t make sense to me. It’s been a while – I’d like to watch it again….one website put a lot of clarity on it with their theories.”
Czechsploitation, erotica and horror
After Striptease, Riffel accepted minor roles on the television series Married… with Children in 1997, and Clueless as well as the HBO movie Breast Men before making a string of films with European director Lloyd Simandl. These movies, referred to by some[who?] as “Czechsploitation” films, include Dark Confessions, Bound Cargo, Caligula’s Spawn, and No Escape. These films, coupled with Riffel’s roles in Showgirls and Striptease opened the door for her to be cast in a handful of erotic/thriller films such as The Pornographer and Scandalous Behavior (with Shannon Tweed).
In 1999, Riffel appeared alongside cult-film legends Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, and Mink Stole in Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence, a gay-themed comedy/drama/art film. Riffel also appeared in several horror/thriller movies including Candyman III: Day of the Dead, Unstable Minds, and Dark Reel starring Edward Furlong and Tony Todd.
Musical work and other projects
According to the text trivia track on the 2010 Blu-ray release of Showgirls, one of the songs played during the film's lap-dance sequence was co-written by Riffel.
In 2004, Riffel’s song "Geisha Girl" was featured in Oliver Robbins film Wild Roomies. She also sang the theme song for 2007 E! Entertainment's series, Billionaire Heiresses, called "Livin' in the Fast Lane". In 2008, she starred in Coheed and Cambria's music video for "Feathers" playing the 1950s character, Judy Feathers. Judy Feathers is the perfect housewife with a secret of being a cannibal, killing then serving the milkman, postman, sailor, and a boyscout for dinner. It won Best Video in 2008 in the UK for the Kerrang! Awards and Rena appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on March 5, 2008 with the band.
In 2008, Riffel directed/produced/wrote and starred in the movie Trasharella, a comedy/crime/fantasy musical. She edited the film herself and her production company, Rena Riffel Films, released the film on DVD through Amazon.com in 2009.
When asked to describe Trasharella, Riffel stated, "It is a satire on B-movie horror films... I went against the grain and instead of trying to make this slick Hollywood film, I just let things be as they were and made it into a really bad grindhouse style exploitation film. ...it's not a dumb film, it's just 'bad'... in a good way. Mae West said: 'When I'm good I'm good, but when I'm bad I'm better.' And we use her quote in Trasharella."
Riffel developed a musical based on Showgirls, titled Showgirls! The Musical and also wrote and directed a sequel to Showgirls. The film had its first screening in October 27, 2011, at the Laemmle Theatre's Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, California. It played to a packed house who enjoyed the epic, which had a duration of 2 hours and 24 minutes. The film, now titled Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven received excellent reviews, with references made to David Lynch's Inland Empire by CraveOnline.com and LA Weekly. Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven was screened in arthouse theatres across the country and announced further surprise screenings on the movie website, ShowGirls2Movie.com.
|1990||Satan's Princess||Erica Dunn||aka Malediction (UK: video title)|
|1992||Sinatra (TV)||May Britt|
|1994||Art Deco Detective||Julie/Meg Hudson|
|1997||Breast Men (HBO)||Swimming Pool Girl|
|1998||Dark Confessions||Erica||aka Chained Heat III: No Holds Barred (UK: video title)|
|Shark in a Bottle||Receptionist|
|MP Da Last Don||Dancer|
|Candyman: Day of the Dead||Lena||aka Candyman 3: Day of the Dead|
|Goat on Fire and Smiling Fish||Party Girl #2||aka Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire (USA: new title)|
|Singapore Sling||Michelle Drake||aka Scandalous Behavior (USA)|
|Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence||Uncredited|
|2000||Between Christmas and New Year’s||Blue|
|2003||Lady Killers||Fantasy Girl (uncredited)||aka Gold Diggers (USA); aka National Lampoon's Gold Diggers (USA: new title); aka National Lampoon's Lady Killers (USA: complete title)|
|Bound Cargo||Widow||aka White Slave Virgins|
|Welcome to the Real Hollywood||Rena|
|2004||Roomies||Female Caller||aka Wild Roomies (USA: new title)|
|2008||One, Two, Many||Tiffany|
|Dark Reel||Detective LaRue|
|The Making of Gnome Killer 2||Detective LaRue/Gnome Queen|
|The Gertrude Stein Mystery||Agent Agnes Goddard|
|Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven||Penny Slot/Helga|
|2013||The Trouble with Barry||Pussy Johnson||feature|
- Paradise (aka Guns of Paradise) episode "Childhood's End" as Teenage Prostitute (1988)
- Freshman Dorm episode "My Boyfriend’s Back" as Lisa (1992)
- Land's End episode "Land's End: Part 1" as Taffi Bishop (1995)
- Land's End episode "Land's End: Part 2" as Taffi Bishop (1995)
- Minor Adjustments episode "The Model Wife" as Leslie (1996)
- Married... with Children episode "How to Marry a Moron" as Stripper #1 (1997)
- Clueless episode "Sharing Cher" as Second Masseuse (1997)
- The Pretender episode "Cold Dick" as Mona Jeffries (2000)
- The X Show episode dated 26 January 2000 as Herself (2000)
- Spyder Games episode "Episode #1.56" as Lydia (2001)
- Spyder Games episode "Episode #1.58" as Lydia (2001)
- Dante's Cove episode "In the Beginning" as Tina (2005)
- Dante's Cove episode "Then There Was Darkness" as Tina (2005)
- Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew episode "Sex and Trauma" as Herself (2008)
- Between Christmas and New Year’s (2000) (associate producer)
- Trasharella (2009) (producer)
- The Making of Gnome Killer 2 (2009) (associate producer)
- The Gertrude Stein Mystery (2009) (associate producer)
- Trasharella Ultra Vixen (2011) (Producer)
- Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven (2012) (Producer)
- Back in the USSR (1992)
- Showgirls (1995)
- Bloodthirsty (1999)
- Roomies (2004)
- Trasharella (2009)
- Showgirls (1995) (writer and performer: "Deep Kiss")
- Roomies (2004) (performer: "Geisha Girl")
- Forbes 20 Billionaire Heiresses: Young, Fabulous and Incredibly Rich (2007) (performer: "Livin' in the Fast Lane" – theme song)
- Trasharella (2009)
- Trasharella (2009)
- Trasharella Ultra Vixen (2011)
- Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven (2012)
- Trasharella (2009) (screenplay) (story)
- Showgirls 2: Penny's from Heaven (2012)
Costume and wardrobe
- Trasharella (2009)
- Trasharella Ultra Vixen (2011)
- ShowGirls2: Penny's from Heaven (2012)
- "Rena Riffel". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
- "Interview: Rena Riffel Talks to Mondo Celluloid – Part 1". Mondo Celluloid. 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
- "Interview with Dark Reel star Rena Riffel - Feature Article". Eat My Brains!. 2009-04-07. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
- Connie Lynn says: (2009-03-17). "Interview: Rena Riffel talks to Mondo Celluloid – Part 2". Mondo Celluloid. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
- Rena Riffel at the Internet Movie Database