john waters features in a new doc about tura satana, asian american trailblazer

Badass vixen Tura Satana returns to the screen for a documentary about her life featuring John Waters and narrated by Margaret Cho.

by Jo Rosenthal
21 March 2017, 4:45pm

John Waters is known for making outrageous underground art films. The larger-than-life performances and costumes of his 1972 crime thriller Pink Flamingos, starring drag icon Divine, and the hilarious and poignant 1988 love story Hairspray have continuously inspired the fashion and art worlds. His eye for detail, love for the color pink, and riotous celebration of the counter-culture have transformed his films into parties both onscreen and off. And now the multi-talented director, author, actor, and visual artist is helping to reintroduce one of his favorite cult movie stars to the spotlight.

Waters is slated to appear as a talking head in a new documentary about the legendary actress, cabaret star, and exotic dancer Tura Satana.

With her straight black bangs, perfect winged eyeliner, and furiously arched eyebrows, Satana became an icon after playing Varla — the ruthless leader of an all-female gang — in the 1965 Russ Meyer cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

The Japanese-born actress had a tumultuous upbringing. She lived in an internment camp in California with her family during WWII and survived a racially motivated rape in Chicago before she turned ten years old. But Satana overcame these hardships to become a famous burlesque dancer and even dated Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Because of her wild stunts and fierce attitude, many called her the "female Bruce Lee."

Titled Tura!, the upcoming documentary will feature interviews with Dita Von Teese, Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon Lee, and Waters himself. The film will be narrated by actress and comedian Margaret Cho, and is being co-produced by Satana's longtime manager and friend Siouxzan Perry.

Independent studio Tropico FIlm has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the production. So far over $13,000, of the $50,000 goal, have been raised.

"Any kick-ass leading lady you see in movies today? Tura was there first. She blazed the trail for them and deserves recognition for that," producer/director Cody Jarrett told IndieWire.


Text Jo Rosenthal
Image via Youtube

john waters
Tura Satana