There are Legends, there are Icons, there are Super-women – and then there is TURA SATANA, the immortal star of Russ Meyer’s masterpiece Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! (1965) as well as many other cult classics, who boldly embodies all three attributes with stunning style, sensuality, wit and strength of character. I am privileged to know this great lady personally. But I still don’t mess with her…
Will the Thrill: How did you get involved with the new Women In Prison film, Sugarboxx?
TS: Cody Jarrett wanted to use some of the Russ Meyer women in his film so he asked my manager Siouxzan (Perry) if she could arrange it? Supposedly all of the gals from FPKK were going to be in it, but it turned out all he could afford was Kitten Natividad and myself, beside using my manager Siouxzan in the film as well. I just play the judge in the film but had fun doing it. Cody did a good job on a shoestring budget.
Thrill: What are some of your best (or worst) memories of working with Russ Meyer?
TS: I really didn’t have any bad memories of working with Russ, except when we argued over the scene when I was crushing the vegetable with the car. We argued over the spinning back wheels of his car. I guess when I got so frustrated with him, I turned around and hit a railroad tie wall and broke my hand, he finally realized that I was serious about the scene. He finally gave in. The best time was during the lunch scene and we had to get Lori (Williams) drunk for the last half of the scene. We had to make that the last scene of the day for Lori.
Thrill: What about Ted V. Mikels, with whom you worked on several cult classics (Astro Zombies 1968, Mark of the Astro Zombies 2002, The Doll Squad 1973)?
TS: Ted Mikels is a lovely man to work with, but he is a stickler for staying with the dialogue. I always enjoyed working with Ted. We had a ball doing Doll Squad because we filmed that on Catalina Island and the desert around Bakersfield, Ca. All of the ladies got along and enjoyed our stay at the vegetarian compound there. Astro Zombies 1, he basically wrote the script for me after catching my dance routine in Las Vegas. He wrote the second one as well, but he did have the budget for #2 that he had for the first one. The first was SAG sanctioned and was done on a SAG contract. The second was not. He is filming a third AZ, but he is using my ghost in the last one.
Thrill: Though still best known for Faster Pussycat, one of the greatest films of all time, in any genre, you gave us fans a long, legendary, multi-layered life, including your career as an exotic cabaret dancer. What are your thoughts on the Art of Burlesque?
TS: I shall always try to help when it comes to entertainers who want to learn the art of stripping. I was an exotic dancer for 21 yrs and I have to say that I enjoyed every last minute as one. I also have the privilege of being voted one of the 10 Best Undressed for the 20th Century. I still say that most of the dancers have trouble using the full stage and it always bothers me that they don’t. Of course when I was dancing we had house singers and parade girls and chorus lines. We had first and second bananas, talking women and men, besides having the star of the show, co-star and extra added attractions. There are not shows like that any more. We also had vaudeville acts in between dancers. We had shows that were well worth seeing. Most of the women had flawless skin and gorgeous bodies draped with gorgeous and expensive costumes and headdresses. I used to carry a large box with me that held my 6 foot tall Buddha. I also carried my own orchestrations for the bands that played in the theaters. I would love to see burlesque back in its glory days.
Thrill: What’s up next for the indestructible Tura?
TS: Well, I think that the next will be the filming of my documentary and whatever film I decide to do next. I will also be releasing my biography in book form at the same time that the documentary is ready for release in theaters. I think that it will be great news for the fans because they are all anxious for the biography to be released and I hope that they will love it as well. I am looking for the release of Rob Zombie’s animated film, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto . I will enjoy seeing that myself, because of my grandchildren. I think that the fact that he brought Varla back to life to be in his film is wonderful and I had a ball doing the voice over for it. Hopefully, I will be able to do more voice overs and some additional films before I fully retire.
Tura passed away on February 4, 2011, in Reno, Nevada, United States. Her long-time manager, Siouxzan Perry, stated the cause of death as heart failure.
She will be deeply misssed.