July 10, 2009
Clad in a leather jumpsuit, tiny waist offset by enormous bosom, her performance in Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) transformed what could have been a run-of-the-mill B-movie into a parable of female power — and sealed her place in the pantheon of pop culture. But the story of TURA SATANA (born 1938) is far more compelling than any low-budget creation. She survived internment at Manzanar, a brutal rape, and a stint in reform school all before her mid-teens. Shortly thereafter Satana made her first appearance on the burlesque stage, where she was frequently billed as “Miss Japan Beautiful.” A chance encounter in Biloxi gave her the opportunity to teach martial arts — and more — to a young Elvis Presley. About her Faster Pussycat role as the man-killing go-go dancer Varla, Satana once remarked that “I took a lot of my anger that had been stored inside of me for many years and let it loose.”
READ MORE about members of the Reconstructionist Generation (1964–1973).