Thursday, February 10, 2011

Goodbye Pussycat (Tura Satana 1938-2011)

"I never TRY anything. I just do it. Like I don't beat clocks, just people! Wanna try me?"

Men smart enough knew NEVER to try Tura Satana.

She had an onscreen journey that went from the witty and regal cinema of Billy Wilder in the 1950s (Irma Le Douce) to the rough and raw exploits of filmmakers like Ted V. Mikels (The Astro Zombies) and Russ Meyer in the role that made her a cinematic icon: as the violent and fierce go-go dancer Varla in Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! in 1966. She was exotic beauty with a background in strip clubs. She had a towering build and a robust chest. She didn't stand down from an ornery man onscreen nor off.

Tura passed away on February 4 at the age of 72. She lived a full and unmerciful life. She was tough and had to be. She experienced rape and abuse as a child but lived to strengthen herself and build a larger than life sense of character that made her a survivor. She was the only woman to stand up to the iron fisted ways of Russ Meyer. Meyer demanded that while shooting Faster Pussycat that no cast member was allowed to have sex while the film was being made, as a calculated way of controlling his actresses and keeping any sexual tension saved for the camera. Satana was brave enough to object to Meyer's orders and she enjoyed a roll in the hay with the assistant cameraman in defiance. Despite her insubordination, she gained Meyer's respect. She solidified herself as a true individual and standout cinema siren of the 1960s. She was one of a kind and has been imitated but never surpassed.

Back in 2006, I made a goofy short film entitled Naked Democracy which was basically a cutesy little comedy about nudists who stand up to the ultra conservative Prime Minister of Canada. I sent it to Tura eager to hear her opinion on it. She politely commented that she thought the storytelling was unpredictable but overall said she really didn't care for it. I was little crushed by the response but after thinking about it I did appreciate her honesty and attention. She was nice to her fans and appeared at conventions to meet them. An acquaintance of mine sat on her lap at a Toronto convention while she signed her autograph for him.

Her contribution to cult cinema is an important one and she paved the way for strong and dominant females in the movies in a unique and powerful way. She won't be forgotten.

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