Legendary cult movie sex symbol Tura Satana died on Friday. She was the scary/sexy stripper/vigilante star of Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Apart from that masterpiece (John Waters called it “the best movie ever made”), Satana’s filmography is disappointingly skimpy, yet sometimes all you need is one masterpiece to be a legend.
Here’s her official New York Times obituary.
The real life Tura Satana wasn’t too different from Varla, her Faster, Pussycat! character. A curvy burlesque dancer who could kick your ass in any number of ways, her life story is one of challenge after challenge. Born in Japan of Japanese-Filipino-Scots/Irish-Comanche heritage. Confined to an internment camp in California during World War II. Constantly bullied as the only “oriental” kid in a poor, urban Chicago neighborhood. An early developer who was gang-raped at a frighteningly young age and sent to reform school for being a wicker pre-teen temptress. Following that terrible experience, her father taught her martial arts (she would eventually become proficient in three) and she resolved to be the ass-kicker, and not the ass-kickee, for the rest of her life. When a rival stripper scratched Tura’s back (not in the nice way), Tura broke her arm and cleaned her boyfriend’s clock. While her film career was in a dormant phase, Tura worked as a nurse, and was shot in the stomach in the ER. She later did a stint as a bodyguard, shepherding wide-eyed diplomats around and dismissing would-be troublemakers with a sneer.
Her life would, and someday might, make a great film. And for awhile it was rumored that Quentin Tarantino wanted to remake Faster, Pussycat!
But who to get to play Tura, or to re-portray her iconic Varla? It’s a tough question. Tura herself was of the opinion (she was always of some opinion) that the only actresses who could pull off Varla were Lucy Lawless and Rose McGowan. At one time, Tera Patrick was rumored to be the likely Tura channeler — an idea Tura hated. Though physically qualified for the part, Tera — according to Tura — lacked the mojo and moxie to do Varla justice.
Time for a gallery, no? Here are some great shots of Tura, and just for good measure a few of the Girls Who Would be Varla.
Sayonara, Tura Satana, it was a pleasure.