In his 1981 book Shock Value, John Waters wrote:
After nearly twenty years of being the top fan of Faster, Pussycat, I tried to locate the star, Tura Satana, to find out what her life is like today and how she felt about being involved in such a masterpiece. I finally got her telephone number in Los Angeles and decided to give her a call. A little girl answered the phone and when I asked for Tura, I was startled to hear the child say "Hold on," and yell "Mommy!" After so many years of fantasizing about the real life of the meanest pussycat of all, it was a shock to realize that Tura Satana was, after all, just an actress. Our interview was short but sweet.
Tura explained that today she is working as a nurse and runs a doctor's office. Noticing my surprise at her career switch, she laughed and added, "My patients don't give me any trouble though." She claims that Tura Satana is her real name, and I try to imagine the buxom beauty in a nurse's outfit with a little badge saying "Nurse Satana." She used to be a popular burlesque star and reminisces, "It kept me in good shape." She got the part in Pussycat because her agent suggested her to Russ, feeling she was "right for the part," with the added attraction of "knowing karate." Tura has never seen any of Russ's films except "the one I'm in" and shrugs that the film "neither helped nor hurt my career." She was also in Irma La Douce, Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed, Astro Zombies, and The Doll Squad.
Tura seems to have fond memories of Pussycat and its two other cinematic sisters in crime, but didn't seem to care for the actress who played her victim. "She was a typical Hollywood brat. She was never in time for anything. I'd get so mad at her that I'd turn away and smash a railroad tie with a karate chop." Her leading man evoked even harsher memories—"Ha! Those love scenes were real acting. The guy was a health-food nut and had bad breath!"
Miss Satana's opinion of cult stardom might give pause to any aspiring actress of today—"When the film came out, everybody who saw it wanted to punch me. I got a lot of letters from guys who wanted me to beat the crap out of them."
Soon after Waters' book (which, incidentally, I consider a masterpiece of American humor on a par with the work of Twain, Perelman, those kinds of guys) was published, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film and Re/Search's Incredibly Strange Films compilation saw print. A new aesthetic of cult film came into being, and soon, characterizing a film such as Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! as a "masterpiece" did not seem quite so provocative, or perverse, a pronouncement...or act...or gesture. The subsequent rise of fan conventions and such plucked Satana out of the relatively contented obscurity where Waters had re-discovered her, and she became a beloved fixture in that world. I think I met her at at least one such wingding, and recall her being as nice as pie.
Anyway, like the man said, it's a strange world. And it will miss Tura Satana.
The image at top is from the aforementioned Irma La Douce, with Jack Lemmon. Because even though I can't imagine anyone's sick of seeing shots from Faster, Pussycat, I still have to do something different.
UPDATE: My old friend Joseph Failla has more detailed memories of meetings with Ms. Satana: "