“You can still be feminine and have balls.” – Tura Satana
She was born in Hokkaidō, Japan in 1935 to a silent movie actor and a contortionist who performed with the circus. She’s of Japanese, Filipino, Scotch-Irish, and American Indian heritage. Her family spent time at the Manzanar Relocation Camp in Southern California before they were relocated to Chicago during World War II. Satana grew up on the Westside, in what she calls “The Mafia Section of town.”
Hers was the only Asian family in the neighborhood. As a result, she suffered daily harassment from other schoolchildren that forced her to continually have to fight her way to and from school. She also blossomed early – by age nine she was wearing a size 34C bra – a matter that made grade school life even worse.
At the age of nine, Satana was assaulted and raped by five men. They were caught and arrested, but never prosecuted. It was rumored that the judge had been paid off with a $1,000 bribe. She was sent off to reform school for “enticing” them – the victim had been blamed.
Her father taught her self-defense and she went on to earn a green belt in aikido and a black belt in karate. In Jimmy McDonough’s Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film, Satana says, “If I could help every woman this has happened to, I would. It is in your spirit to conquer this degradation.”
Satana made a vow to herself that she would get even with each and every one of her attackers. Over the course of several years, she tracked each one down, and she kicked their asses.
After her assault, she was in a girl gang that was for the protection of females in the neighborhood (initiation rites included piercing your ears with a knife). A few years later, at the age of 13, she was briefly married to a 17-year-old in an arranged partnership. After their divorce she moved to Los Angeles, got a fake ID and worked as a blues singer and nude model. At age 15 she began her career as a burlesque dancer in Calumet City, Illinois.
Satana dated Elvis in the 1950s – a relationship that was kept quiet for obvious reasons. He copied some of her dance moves, and even asked her to marry him, but she told him “No.”
Her first film role was in 1963’s Irma la Douce. She then appeared in episodes of Burke’s Law and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The part she’s most recognized for came in 1965’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! in which she plays Varla – the thrill-seeking, vicious, and deadly leader of a girl gang of go-go dancers.
Kicking Ass and Taking Names: An Actress Spotlight on Tura Satana | Bitch Media