Oh, Tura Satana, how do I love thee? Let me count the curves, but also the kicks, the punches, the smoldering stares, the black-suited, unique beauty and the awe-inspiring power that ripped through the screen like an amazon from another universe. As much as I love these actresses, Tura wasn't sublime Anita Ekberg, she wasn't Lynda Carter's busty Wonder Woman, she wasn't delicious Ann-Margret circa Kitten with a Whip -- Tura was a tiger with a blackbelt, a true exotic who actually lived a life of hard knocks and one she, no doubt, disgorged in cathartic release on screen. And she did it with style.
Tura accomplished and endured many things in her eventful life, a life that could only be described as cinematic -- a veritable Kill Bill Part 1, 2, 3, and 4. There were her stories at an internment camp, an early, horrific gang rape, reform school, and a 15-year revenge on her victimizers (Beatrix Kiddo indeed, but the real thing). There were her impressive stints as model, dancer, girlfriend and influencer of Elvis Presley, her work with Billy Wilder in Irma La Douce and then that movie, the most obvious, but the most iconic and emblematic of Tura, the icon.
Her Varla in the beautifully shot exploitation classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! remains one of the toughest female performances on screen. Though director Russ Meyer and his unique, often gorgeous filming, did help create the ultimate ultra-vixen uber-babe -- one who inspired countless other bad babes of the big screen, and one so brazenly scary that you definitely didn't want to take her home to mom and dad (but then, maybe they'd like her. I can personally attest that the woman was certainly nice in person) -- he couldn't have done it without her.
Tura is so potent, she personifies "powerful woman" far beyond her obvious assets. Taking charge as the leader of three bad girls who first, kill a dragster in a smashing fight and then kidnap his bikini-wearing girlfriend, Tura is the one to watch. She lifts the picture to a whole other level. Taking in the spectacle of Tura and a man actually fighting -- hand-to-hand combat, is sexy, for sure, but it's genuinely terrifying. And unlike many cutesy action babes of present times (those big screen Charlie's Angels kick butt "girls rule" fantasies) you actually believe she could take down any man.
Yes, as Meyer so fetishized, she has a tremendous pair, but she has a tremendous face and a tremendous presence and a tremendous style all her own. Who was ever like Tura? To me she IS the ultimate Meyer icon and even outdid her director by becoming something of a feminist icon on top. Ace Meyer shot her perfectly, but he needed that look and that attitude and that realness. Out of her tough and lovely life, she was her own creation.
Rest in peace Tura Satana. If there is a god, he's been eagerly awaiting his Satana.
Read more Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun.