Nobody had to hurriedly write a tribute song to Tura Satana after she passed away in February of 2011. The legendary stripper and hipster sex symbol already had plenty of rock songs written about her over the decades. The Japanese-born exotic dancer–born, in fact, with the exotic name of Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi on July 10th, 1938 –was an unforgettable icon for going from a daring nightclub act to starring as a legendary tough gal in Russ Meyer’s classic film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Satana had actually enjoyed a surprisingly mainstream career, though. She made her proper screen debut in Billy Wilder’s 1963 classic Irma la Douce, and also showed up that year in the Dean Martin comedy Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed? The sizzling 1965 epic Faster, Pussycat! became an instant classic amongst the adult theater crowd. That was a pretty select clientele back then, though. People didn’t exactly rush out to talk about the amazing new talent that they’d discovered in a sleazy movie about Amazonian sexpots.
Satana was back to working as a dancer when she showed up in the 1966 spy spoof Our Man Flint. Then she went on to B-movies like 1968’s Astro Zombies and 1973’s The Doll Squad. That was a big deal to Faster, Pussycat fans, but–as noted–that was a shameful cult. Satana, however, finally began to enjoy some long-delayed success in the 1980s as Meyer’s films became available on VHS. Faster, Pussycat! soon became a legend of home video, In fact, the movie gained a reputation as the movie most likely to be stolen from video stores. (It didn’t help that smart capitalist Meyer was charging $100 for home copies.)
Tura was ready to emerge from her retirement as a Los Angeles housewife. The savvy lady had copyrighted her name and image. She was a little shapelier than expected when the former femme fatale hit the convention circuit, but the fans adored her. Rightly so, too, since her interviews and personal appearances had Satana living up to Russ Meyer’s praise. He’d always described her as a whip-smart gal who had ad-libbed plenty of his movie’s best lines. That was sure believable, and it was still a shock to lose the lively lady at the age of 72. Tura will live on, though–and while this clip is kind of expected, the opening to Faster, Pussycat still needs to be seen all the time..