June 14, 1999 12:00 PM

The Learning Channel (Sun., June 13, 9 p.m. ET)

Strange thing about these showgirl stories: The more skin they reveal, the less interesting they are.

Narrated by Anjelica Huston, the documentary shifts back and forth in time, introducing us to elderly Ziegfeld Follies alumnae, a 1950s burlesque queen known for mimicking Marilyn Monroe, exotic dancers from the flesh-and-feathers revues of Paris and Las Vegas, and nubile London strippers who flaunt their natural talent in front of big-tipping businessmen. The old Ziegfeld girls are charmers—upbeat, spirited and funny—and the aging Monroe imitator is quite a character. (She runs a burlesque museum in the Mojave Desert.) But the dancers from the glamorous cabarets tend to be dull and/or dreary, and the young lap-dancer types are downright boring—as conversationalists, anyway. One of them complains about working in an atmosphere that’s all money and sex, yet blithely admits she’s “being completely hypocritical” by cashing in on her physical assets. The film as a whole is similarly ambivalent, leaving the viewer to decide whether showgirls are exploited, empowered or just trying to make a living.

Bottom Line: So-so study of girls, girls, girls

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