Some movie personalities don’t have to do much to leave a lasting impression. The sheer power of their presence is enough to leave the audience wanting more and this was never more true in the case of Tura Satana.
Satana’s beginnings sound like a line from a pinky violence flick or some girl gang movie starring Mamie Van Doren. The victim of a brutal gang rape at a very young age and a grotesque miscarriage of justice found her in the dojo learning karate. She would later use those bad ass hands to track down her attackers and dole out justice proper over the following decades. Seriously. A life story like this could only wind up in a reform school, too. Tura Satana was the real-deal; a tragic, angry icon before a single frame of film had ever been shot. Naturally, this road leads to several seedy destinations and Satana found her way to burlesque and into exploitation’s hall of fame in Russ Meyer’s legendary bad girl picture, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! She’s even said to have turned down Elvis’ marriage proposal. Honestly, you can’t make this shit up.
Satana explodes on screen in Meyer’s flick! She is pure energy and every second of screen time feels unbelievably dangerous! There isn’t a man in America who wouldn’t mind having his ass kicked by that. Head to toe black and topped off with black curtain bangs, Tura Satana on the Pussycat poster is one of those iconic pieces of art, recognizable even to people who’ve never seen the movie or heard the name Tura Satana.
Sad news came down yesterday, February 4th, from Tura’s manager Siouxzan Perry, that Tura had died in Reno, Nevada of heart failure. That single performance in Faster Pussycat is carved in stone and she will go down in history as one of if not the baddest, most gender subversive women in film. She will be missed.