I don’t know why everyone thinks Angelina Jolie is so tough. I mean, no offence to her legions of misguided fans, but if you take a close look at Jolie, she’s really just an overprivileged Hollywood face who plays overprivileged women who carry guns and get shot at in slo mo. That’s not tough. That’s just firepower.
If you really want to see tough, in my humble opinion, you shouldn’t be watching movies about rich antique collectors in wet suits. If you want hard-core tough and some cleavage to boot you need to check out cult classic B-girl flicks like Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! starring the meanest B-girl ever to hit the silver screen, Tura Satana. Satana’s character in the film, gang leader Varla, wears skintight boob-busting black, kicks major ass and delivers classic lines like (in response to an offer for a soft drink), “We don’t like nothin’ soft. Everything we does is hard!”
Born in Japan, raised in the US, Satana not only spent time in a Japanese-American internment camp in California, she also did time in reform school and ran with a gang (which included an initiation ritual where members pierced their ears with a knife — no cheating with ice or anything). Married and divorced before she was out of her early teens, Satana has also worked extensively as an exotic dancer and was voted one of the 10 best undressed burlesque dancers of the 20th century. In other words not only can Satana easily beat the snot out of Jolie, she can also twirl a pastie. Beat that!
True fans of hard-core toughness were present at Toronto’s Rue Morgue last year to catch a screening of Faster Pussycat with Satana in the house post-screening to answer questions. I got to ask Satana a few questions of my own prior to her TO appearance.
MARIKO TAMAKI: Would you describe yourself as a natural born tough girl or do you see your experiences in life — as a girl in American-Japanese internment camps, later in gangs and reform school — as being a huge influence on that toughness?
TURA SATANA: I would say that I learned to be tough because of what life kept handing me. I could either go down for the count or I could get up and kick ass. I would say that I learned to take the punches and then started punching back.
TAMAKI: You’ve been described as one of the most bad-ass girls in film history. Do you see anyone on screen today that reminds you of your own bad-assness?
SATANA: Yes, I would say that the one that comes closest would be either Lucy Lawless as Xena and possibly Rose McGowan. I can’t think of too many others that even come close.
TAMAKI: If you were to look back and pinpoint one element of your performance history that meant the most to you would it be your film work or your work on stage?
SATANA: I would have to say that it is a little of both. My career as a burlesque star helped me learn that not all of life sucks. I loved the closeness of working before a live audience. It made me aware of fans and how much I counted on the response from the audience. But being the first woman who is noted for killing a man on screen with her bare hands kind of makes a star shine. Mostly it is still the fans who let me know that what I did and do means something to them and has helped some of them with things in their lives. Somehow I made them stronger and better. That makes me happy.
TAMAKI: Do you have any advice for the girls and drag queens out there as to the secret to awesome cleavage?
SATANA: Well, I would say that for good cleavage, you need to build up your pectorals. But barring that, you can learn how to shade and colour a lovely cleavage.
TAMAKI: And finally, would you rather go down in history as a role model or a rebel?
SATANA: I think that I would rather be a role model who was a bit of a rebel.
Tura Satana has launched her collector doll in Canada (a very tough doll). She also voices a character in Rob Zombie’s animated feature The Haunted World of El Superbeasto out next year and she has a role in the sexploitation film Sugar Boxx (costarring fellow Russ Meyer girl Kitten Natividad). Satana’s biography is due out soon (go to Turasatana.com for updates), so keep your eyes peeled, wimps!