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Tura Satana

Interview by Lucifera Elena

Tura Satana is infamous for her character Varla a strong and fiendish go-go dancer in Russ Meyer's 1966 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. When I first saw this movie I was moved by the boldness of her character. And Tura Satana herself is also amazing , she knows karate, has two daughters, used to work as a stripper, and presently works as a personal bodyguard for a casino. I was so happy when I finally got an interview with her and I present it to you here. Other movies Tura Satana is featured in are: Astro-Zombie released in 1967 and The Doll Squad released in 1973.

1. How does it feel to be a cult figure?
It feels wonderful. I enjoy knowing that my fans appreciate my work.

2. If you had to do the movies "Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!" again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I feel that I put a lot of myself into that film and I would probably have done a few more scenes involving showing that I could be as feminine as I wanted and still be a tough cookie.What where you so angry about when you filmed this movie? I just let a lot of my anger when I was a child come out in that character of Varla. I also needed to make the women of this world understand that they didn't have to be doormats any longer. They could be female and strong too.

3. Tura Satana, why was this name chosen and how?
Tura is my real name. Satana was one of my married names.

4. What was your relationship to Russ Meyers? Did you enjoy working with him?
Russ and I have been friends ever since we filmed FPKK. Strictly professional respect for each other and our abilities. Yes, I did enjoy working with him. He is a very fantastic cameraman.

5. Do you feel more women are starting to enjoy "Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!, than when the movie was first released in 1966? What message do you feel this movie sends out to it's audience? Is is different for men and women?
Yes, I do. I think that more women are enjoying this film than when it was first released and I think that the women are starting to believe that message. You can be and do anything that you want to. Yes, the message is different for the men than the women. For the men, it shows them that we women are no longer the weaker sex.

6. You mentioned in an interview with "Film Threat" that you are as tough as the character in your films, but not because you want to. Why do you feel you have to be tough then?
It is basically because of the time I was growing up. I was interned in the camps during the war and I was angry about that. When I started to school in Chicago, I had to fight my way to and from school, because we were the only Japanese family in that entire neighborhood. I either had to be tough or get trampled in the process. I refused to be a punching bag for anyone. That's why I had to be tough and why I will continue to be as tough as it takes to survive in this world.

7. Why did you get so upset when Tarrie B. decided to use the name "Tura Satana" as the bands name? Didn't you think of it as complimentary? I believe she even tried to dress as the character Varla?
The only reason I was upset about the band using my name was that I was never asked if it was okay? Yes, it was complimentary and I am sure that Tarrie B never meant anything derogatory in taking my name, but I still would like to have been asked.

8. You you be as upset if they would have approached you and asked to use your name instead?
I think that I just answered this question up above. I know that Tarrie B wrote and told me the reason why she chose the name. I am flattered that I made that big an impression on her.

9. When did you decide to start your own website? It's a great idea? There are many websites already that promote your movies?
I did it out of a request from many of my fans and because there were so many people out there who are still using my name. I have found several websites who claim to be me, but are not.

10. Tell us a little about how you felt when working on Astro-Zombie in 1969? Was it fun or was it a lot of hard work?
I would have to say that it was fun to work in Astro Zombies. I especially loved working with John Carradine. He was such a lovely man and he made me feel like he was really enjoying himself when we were in make up together.

11. Were you or are you still in contact or friends with Haji, Lori Williams and any of the other people you worked with in the film industry?
Yes, I am and always will be friends with Haji and Lori. We recently appeared together at the Chiller Convention and At the Cult Movie Expo. We had a ball together and we will probably be going to Australia together in July of this year. We are also talking about doing a couple of films together again as well.

12. What do you do for fun? Where does Tura go to enjoy herself at night?
Actually, I just enjoy life and the people around me. I flirt a lot with all of the people that I meet. I enjoy people and I love to watch them and what they do. That's one of the reasons that I always loved working nightclubs. I got close to the people.

13. Are you a vampire? lol How do you keep yourself looking so young? A lot of the pictures I've seen you look quiet young:)
Not that I know of. I think one of the reasons that I continue to look young is that I still feel young. I don't drink, don't take drugs, I eat well and I like to swim. I enjoy my family and I try to be a positive person.

14. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
I love all types of music, but mostly I listen to country. At least, the country that is out these days. I love easy listening music, I enjoy any music that makes me want to move. I am going to be doing a few songs with a group in England and also the Electric Frankenstein band.

15. What did you work in before working in B-films?
I worked as burlesque dancer for about 18 years.

16. I understand you have your own engine-rebuilding facility? How did you decide on this line of work or business?
Not any longer. Since my husband passed away in October and my sister passed away in November, I no longer have the engine rebuilding company. I gave it up in October after my husband died.

17. How do your daughters feel about the films you have been in? Do they enjoy them as well, or are they not sure what to make of mommy?
My daughters always enjoyed my films. They are their own persons and know that I am just as human as anyone else.

18. How do they feel about the fact that you dated Elvis? That seems to be a favorite theme but what a couple you and Elvis must have made :)
I can only tell you that when I dated Elvis, he was still one of the sweetest people you would want to know. Granted he was starting to get a name for himself and a lot of people started to hang on, but our time was time that we spent together. Even after we broke up because I wouldn't marry him, we still kept in touch until he married Priscilla. If you notice, she was made over to look like me in many ways. I was flattered in a way, but I also felt very sorry for Priscilla. She wasn't me and could never be me. She should have been loved for herself. After he married her, I wouldn't take his calls any longer, because I didn't think it was right to see him any more. He was a very lonely person, even with all of the people around him, because no one really ever listened to him. They just envied him and what he had. I sometime blame myself that he died, because he wanted to talk and I wasn't around to help.

19. Tell us a little about Tura Satana, the dancer? How long did you do this and was it profitable enough for you? Was it something you wanted to do or had to do?
I started dancing when I was about 13 years old. Shortly after my divorce. I couldn't go back to school, even though I tried. They would not let me, because they thought that I would corrupt the other female students with stories of married life. Who knows? I might have! I basically started dancing, because even though I had a vocal range of about 4 octaves, no one wanted to hire me to sing. At least very few did, so I started dancing legitimately. I started out as a Spanish dancer and Hawaiian dancer. The audience loved the body, so the owner of the club stated that he would give me a $50.00 a week raise if I would start to take my clothes off. I was working in Calumet City at the time, with Evelyn West as the headliner. I knew that I was a better dancer than her, so I said yes. My brother and I , worked there for a while and then when I wanted to leave, the owner told me that I couldn't. He stated that I belonged to him! I told him, that I belonged to no one. I made a phone call to a friend that owed me a favor and after he finished talking to the owner of the Rendezvous Club, I was able to leave with the owners blessing.

So my brother and I went on to New Orleans with a friend. After I was there for a short time, I met my agent Mike Riaff. He was my agent until he passed away. I was already doing films by then, but he wasn't an agent for film work, only for A.G.V.A. No, it was never a necessity for me to dance, but I did love what the music made me feel. That was the only way that I did dance, by what the music made me feel.



20. I understand you are working on a book and a film, an autobiography. When can fans expect to get their hands on this book? What do you have in mind for the movie? Who do you want playing your role?
Yes, I am working on my autobiography and when it is finished, there is a producer who would like to make it into a film. I have been working on it for about 5 years now. I work on it when I get into the mood, which isn't very often lately. Especially since I lost my husband and my sister last year. I just hope that it isn't as long and drawn out as Russ Meyers autobiography. The producer who wants to make the it into a film, wants to show that we Oriental women do have some thing gong for us. He wants to show that women can be beautiful, feminine, sexy and still be a force to be reckoned with. I have several women in mind for the lead and I will make a cameo appearance in the film also. I just haven't made up my mind as to who will be the lead.

21. Any additional comments?
Right now, Haji, Lori and myself are still making personal appearances and last year, we were at two of the cult conventions. I know that we have two offers to make some additional films from some other companies who would like to reunite us again. Since we all still look pretty good, I think that we just might do it. We are also in negotiation with a possible tour to Australia in July. If we go there, it will be the second time that we have all appeared together since the film was completed. I am just so sorry that Russ is so ill these days and he has Alzheimer's now, so he doesn't know any of us. He can't remember our names now, he just knows that he knows us. It was really heartbreaking to see him like that. He was such a vital man. God only knows what will happen to his works, once he is no longer around.

Well, now that I am single again, after 21 years of marriage. I will be on the prowl again. Look out guys, I comin' out. Don't forget to send my fans to my website at www.turasatana.com.