Firstly, I would like to thank Tura Satana for granting me the privilege of this interview. It's not every day that I get to meet the woman who inspired me to love eyeliner, lipstick, bad boys, fast cars, go-go dancing, and ass kicking. She has my highest respect for being a gracious lady, true to herself and showing women we can be whoever the hell we want to be and still look good in heels at 70!
I must have been about 13...unlike the other girls who moulded themselves on Farrah Fawcett, Olivia Newton John, Cheryl Tiegs and Jaclyn Smith...I wanted to be just like Varla. Despite the fact I was blonde, blue eyed and did not possess her 44-22-36 man eating body, I didn't care...I could dream couldn't I? And, on Friday nights, all my dreams came true because that's the night mom and dad went out to socials...and that's the night I would have my own little party.
It would begin with me raiding my mom's closet. Putting on her hot pants, go --go boots, and topping it off with her frosty lipstick. I'd untie my ponytail; shake my hair out and take a huff from the spliff the16 year old neighbour gave me. Then, I'd retreat down to the wreck room and pull out my sacred records. I would dance around all alone; fantasizing that I was a living super hero, who could kill a man with one look. Staring at myself in the mirror, I would practice the art of come hither and get on your knees boy...I knew there must be others like me out there and I would find them one day, But, until then...on Friday night in the burbs, there was only me and Varla.
Some may ask who is Varla? If you don't know...that's ok...you will. Lesson number one - Google images of Tura Satana. One look at you will understand. I truly believe visuals are books, because they open the mind and the imagination to vastness. But never judge a book by it's cover (as breathtaking as it may be) because this Japanese born bomb-dropper puts the self obsessed, overrated into the realm of "you only wish."
Tura Satana is most famous for her role as the notorious villanessVarla in the Russ Meyer cult classic Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, however, the character she played as Varla is but a small part of this incredible woman who has been immortalized in film, song, art, and in the hearts of her many fans. Voted one of 10 best Undressed Women of All Time (she is 100% natural), ex fiancée of Elvis Presley (they were engaged for 3 years and she still has the ring). Tura was the first actress to kill a man on screen with her bare hands and her film career spans further than the Mohave Desert, as she is also the muse for Ted V. Mikels cult films such as Doll Squad and Astro Zombies. (In my opinion Charlies Angels is a rip off of Doll Squad) author, martial arts expert, stuntwoman, dancer, singer, mother, grandmother, teacher, icon, feminist, survivor woman and VIXEN!
I knew Tura Satana would be coming to Toronto, on behalf of Rue Morgue, to introduce a documentary film, titled The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels, and host a Question and Answer session about her life.
Much to my delight I discovered Tura would be stopping by Toronto's Rok Boutique the night before the premiere for an autograph session. I had to be there!
Donning a tight dress, heels, Brigitte Bardot bouffant, and my own sprinkle of Femme Fatale, I arrived at the Rok Boutique, and waited. A woman with signature long black hair, bangs; black t-shirt, tight black slacks and heels took her place at the table. I stood back to observe. A crowd ranging from ages 20 -- 50 gathered round her, I watched fascinated as Tura Satana brought them all into her realm; as if they were long lost friends.
Does she still look fantastic? Does she have the same character as Varla? Would she be approachable? The answers are - YES, she is beautiful. At 70, her skin is virtually line free and her smile is radiant and depicts a woman who is confident because she has nothing to prove. She did not possess Varla's sinister persona, as a matter of fact, she was approachable, humble, wickedly fun, and dammed sexy. Just watch out for the razor blade hidden inside the package because Tura's quick whit can still render anyone speechless. To sum her up in a few words...She just IS!!!
When I thought the time was right, I chided up closer and closer. It was finally my turn to take my place beside her and get my poster signed. I whispered into her ear that I thought she looked fantastic (as if she hadn't heard that one before). And, I just had to ask...had she had any botox? The answer was honest -- "No, but I wish I had," followed by a girlish giggle.
Somewhere between poster signing and another vodka, I found myself standing outside on the street with a gang of girls. Transported back to somewhere between the smoking section in high school and a scene from the Faster Pussycat Kill Kill movie. We were paying homage to a newfound leader of the pack ...Tura. Or was it Varla?
For the first time, I noted how Tura exposed a little bit of Varla. She was the top cat. We gathered round her, awestruck at the fact we were actually in the presence of an icon and that she was having a blast with us! Cameras were flashing, laughter was rampant, joking, prodding, touching, whispering and a whole lot of girl stuff; we put any Hollywood pajama party to shame. It wasn't Grease...that's for sure! At one point Tura grabbed a longhaired, blonde guy out of the crowd, bent him over and made his night buy giving him a kiss that he will remember for the rest of his life. Suddenly, we were all brought back to reality when her bodyguard told her it was time to get into the limo.
Akin to the driving skills of her most notorious character Varla...she peeled out as fast as she rode in! Lucky for me, it would not be my last encounter with Tura Satana, as I had been fortunate enough to be granted a one on one interview with her the following evening.
As the time came close for my interview, I was re-arranging questions in my head. There was so much to ask her; yet, part of me wanted it to be impromptu. I am glad I stuck with the latter.
There is a certain power derived from looking at someone in the eyes and stating "I did." Watch them register what is coming out of your mouth. You see their pupils dilate; they shift - sort of doing the squirm dance...then their faces go blank, as if they are trying not to show their fear. Why do I use the word fear? Blatant honesty stirs something up inside of people. In a split second, it can bond, or destroy, causing judgements to be passed upon us for choosing to expose (but fuck it feels good to say "I did it, so what?") Telling the truth at no cost is like being outside naked on the coldest night of the year in Antarctica. Tura is not afraid to tell it like it is.
If you had to spend one night with President George Bush what would you do with him?
Don't get me started, I would put my best Varla move on him and break his neck with my bare hands.
Hilary or Obama? Republican or Democrat?
Hilary? Nooooo. Let me tell you any woman who decided to stick by her man after what he did with Monica, sheds light on her own character and sets self respect back a lot of years. (She laughs that devilish laugh, and you know what? She is right.)
Who was the best lover you have ever been with? Have you had a love of your life? (I expected her to say Elvis)
Forest Tucker. The tall blonde guy from the show F. Troop. He was something else; and he was hung like a donkey. I remember being in Vegas with him and Milton Berle. They used to line up silver dollars on the table and see who could knock off the most.
Do you mean knock off the most with their dicks?
(Tura smiles fondly) That's what I mean, and Forest won every time. That man moved me.(We both giggle and agree that size does matter!)
Did you have any off screen affairs when filming Faster Pussycat Kill Kill?
Russ forbade sex on and off the set during filming. But I told Russ, I need to have sex every day or I was not going to work. It was bad enough being stuck out in the Mohave Desert, in the heat. And that heat made me horny. I found a way and it wasn't with any of the actors in the film...but I had my sex every day.
Do you feel as if your persona and character has been robbed and plagiarized in film, music and art?
I know it has, but I own all the rights to my own image.
Rumour has it that Quentin Tarantino is doing a remake of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill. Who would you like to see play Varla?
I hear he wants to use a porn star to play Varla, but he will NEVER make that movie while I am still alive.
What are you currently doing? Are you still working?
Next month, I am off to Sweden to teach strippers how to "tassel twirl", you know burlesque is still a fine art. I just completed a new film called Sugar Boxx (you will see a clip of it tonight in the theatre) and my voice is in a new animated movie, by Rob Zombie named THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO.
After the last answer Tura was advised she had a few minutes before she was to appear on stage to introduce the new documentary called The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels. Narrated by John Waters and Produced by Kevin Sean Michaels.
It took me 30 years to meet her in the flesh, and it felt as if I was meeting a long lost friend. 30 years of my own life lessons which have mellowed me, as they have her, and finally the myth has been put to rest, because the lesson I learned is that at the end of the day, it's all about what you do with it.
Update: Seated next to me at the film screening was Kevin Sean Michaels, I had no clue who he was and I am glad, because by the time the evening was over, I had been invited to Las Vegas by Kevin to hang out with him and Tura. I'll update you on that adventure!! I better pack my high heels.
Interview conducted by Kim Lapalme September 2008