It was on the 4th that I remembered that Filmme Fatale’s avatar was of the timeless, sultry Tura Satana. Before Tura it was a photo of me, and I realized that I didn’t want FF to be seen as a personal blog; my admiration for Satana had been cemented ever since I saw her powerful performance in Russ Meyers’ cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!!, so the choice was an easy one. I’m sorry - to myself the most, really - that I haven’t yet written about Tura’s influence on me.
Any Wikipedia search could tell you about Tura’s career and her life. It’s common knowledge that she was raped, that she grew up and tracked down her assaulters and beat up each and every one. It’s common knowledge that she was an exotic dancer, an actress, a singer, a muse, and turned down a marriage proposal from Elvis Presley.
Tura was a force, in life and in show biz. An adolescent girl-gang leader, a teenage runaway, an underage nude model. I’d say she was a bad seed if not for that strong, clear head on her shoulders. Maybe “badd seed”? People still say “badd,” don’t they? Oh - did I mention she’s a Chicago girl?
But what struck me most of all was just how positive Tura was about strong females. In her interview with Zuri Zone [link], Satana states that while she and her friends were in a girl gang, “…we didn’t go around looking for trouble. Usually we went looking to prevent trouble, especially to other girls.” She carried this sentiment with her ‘til the day she died, during a time where women (especially Asian women) had no strong female role-models who took charge of their sexuality.
Even now, we still need Tura’s rage-filled Varla from Faster, Pussycat!, and her ruthless Satana from The Astro-Zombies. Even now, Tura is revolutionary in seeing women as both strong and feminine, as capable of both integrity and sexuality, of owning their autonomy.
Though her entire life seemed to be a struggle to overcome her many adversities - growing up Asian-American, hitting puberty much earlier than her peers, brutal sexual assault, harassment and even violence throughout her entertainment career - Satana is a symbol of strength and self-assuredness in a world that remains sympathetic to men. Her humor was said to be infectious, her beauty statuesque, and her work ethic was limitless. And despite her notorious piercing glare, she was known by all to be a very fair, grounded woman.
Even now, “Tura” - a sigil to those who did not know her personally - is an incredibly powerful woman.
Though the film world mourns her death, I mourn her more as a woman. To close her interview with Zuri Zone, Tura states, “Remember that life is not like movies. There is good and bad all around. Make sure you are never a victim but always a survivor.”