“One of the things that I always said, and it was one of my father’s favorite sayings, ‘Always be good to the people on the way up, because you’re going to meet them on the way down.’ I have always lived by that philosophy. The one thing you’ve got to remember is that you just never accept defeat. Remember to never let life get you down, because there is always something new to learn tomorrow. Life is to be lived, and lived well.” – Tura Satana
Earlier this year, Cinema Crazed had the privilege to read Author Shade Rupe’s compendium of interviews entitled “Dark Stars Rising.” It’s a lengthy tome comprised of unedited uncut interviews with some of the biggest and not so biggest cult icons in history, all of whom were fairly deserving of their own lengthy tome. Among the interviews in the book, one of the interviews was from Ms. Tura Satana. Of course, since “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” is one of our favorite cult films ever made, and undoubtedly one of our favorite films of all time, Satana’s interview was the first we turned to.
Satana loved her fans, and most importantly she loved the role of Varla, the character she made famous in director Russ Meyers crime thriller “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” The reason Satana seemed to identify with Varla so much that Satana rarely took the character down when making public appearances was because Satana was Varla. Varla of course was a rebellious warrior woman, that of seering unique sexuality with an attitude that told the world “I’m getting you before you get me.”
Co star of “Faster Pussycat!” Sue Bernard explains in an interview for Russ Meyer’s film that Satana was always an aggressive and intimidating woman, and that she expressed considerable fear of Satana whenever they were filming. Varla was such a butch yet insanely sexual warrior woman with an allure and aggression that demanded attention from the audience.
When I finally sat down to watch “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” a few years ago on television, unedited, I was enamored. She looked like no one I’d ever seen before, and odds are if she ordered me to drop trou, I’d have done so in a matter of seconds. The late great Ms. Satana was a woman who had a tumultuous and traumatic life. The woman (as she explained in “Dark Stars Rising”) rarely ever had a break in her life to settle down.
She was often denied an education from her school, and due to her development in to puberty before she even reached her pre-teens she was abused and tortured by her classmates, all of whom were jealous of her assets. At a young age she was forced in to a loveless marriage, was horribly raped by five boys from her neighborhood. And in an effort to stave off the constant attacks from jealous classmates, took up martial arts. And yet in the end, Ms. Satana was a woman of good spirits and high energy. Whether elderly or on her last days touring the country, Ms. Satana was out and about making appearances for her fans, dressing as Varla, and even donning her own official website. And fan support was amazing with Ms. Satana garnering her own comic book, and her very own custom action figure for the collectors.
In spite of all of her hard ships, Satana kept a happy face and a brutally honest sexuality that made it impossible for her fans to resist. Tura loved her fans and more importantly she loved the fame that came with “Faster Pussycat!” as she was always happy to flex her sex appeal. And sadly, at the age of 75, Tura Satana has passed away and the world of film is at a loss for words and grieving the gaping hole she’s left in the cult world and the feminine world as a whole. There was no one like Tura Satana, and there will never be anyone like her again. But this shouldn’t be a time to mourn, this should be a time to celebrate the legacy she left behind.
“Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” is still a widely celebrated and much sought after crime thriller with Satana leading the charge, and she continued acting well in to her old age with films like “The Doll Squad,” and “Sugarboxx” to keep our appetites whet. Life couldn’t tame Tura Satana, so the odds of the afterlife turning her angelic are slim. Tura always calls the shots, no matter what. In the end, Tura may have passed on from life, but fans will never move on from Tura. Because we know deep down while “Faster Pussycat!” was iconic, Varla didn’t make Tura immortal. Tura made Varla immortal.
Rest in Peace, Tura. Go, Baby, Go!