I was very sad to learn yesterday of the death at age 73 of a true grindhouse legend and an early icon of female empowerment. I had the good fortune of having a couple of longish chats with Tura Satana, the legendary star of Russ Meyer’s 1965 grindhouse tour de force, “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” and other light classics of exploitation cinema. We both appeared in my friend Cody Jarrett’s women-in-prison opus, “Sugarboxx,” though she actually got to speak. She enjoyed talking about the old days and I certainly didn’t mind listening.
One-quarter Japanese, Filipino, Cheyenne-Indian, and Scots-Irish, her story included a childhood stay in Manzanar, one of the internment camps where all Japanese-Americans on the West coast were illegally forced to spend World War II. She was a victim of a childhood rape who, she said, eventually tracked down all her attackers. That anger would later find an outlet in her work, to say the least.
Her performing career began with notoriety as an exotic dancer and martial artist. A gig posing erotically for photographs by aging silent comedy superstar Harold Lloyd led Lloyd to suggest a career in movies. She eventually made a brief appearance in Billy Wilder’s “Irma La Douce” and that was followed by her bone-crunching interpretation as the villainous/anti-heroic Varla in Russ Meyer’s insane mix of sexual innuendo and, for the time, shocking violence. She would likely have appeared in later Meyer films, but she was unwilling to do the kind of nudity that was his usual calling card. A certain amount of tragedy followed her later in life and her 1970s career was cut short by a bullet wound, her children, and a second career as a nurse.
Tura wasn’t Dame Judi Dench, but then Dame Judi is no Tura Satana. She was one very cool, very brassy woman who held an audience’s attention in a way that was entirely unique to her and entirely unforgettable.
It’s plugging and self-aggrandizement time here at Premium Hollywood as I alert friend and foe alike that Cody Jarrett’s electrifying tale of injustice, exploitation, gratuitous sex, violence, and even more gratuitous revenge in seventies Florida, Sugar Boxx, premieres on Showtime tonight/tomorrow.
The film features true legends of exploitation cinema Tura Satana, Kitten Natividad, and director Jack Hill, not to mention the beauteous Genevieve Anderson and The’la “Rain” Brown. To whet your cinematic appetite, below is a NSFW trailer featuring my rather SFW presence right towards to end, because you all want to know what a blogger pretending to be a corrupt seventies corporate/political flunkie looks like when gawking at a stripper.
“Sugar Boxx” will show at the auspicious hour of 3:10 a.m tonight/tomorrow (9/16/10) on both coasts. If you miss this one — or we’ve gotten the time wrong — check your local listings for later showings.
And there may be some actual news mixed in here. Maybe.
* The big story today is that a lot of people have sussed out the the 23rd James Bond movie is, according to the possibly not-so-super reliable UK tabloid “canned.” Obviously, the same fiscal black hole at the once mighty MGM that is screwing things up royally for “The Hobbit” is also at least delaying the latest entry in what has to be the longest-running franchise in movie history.
He may be a bit emotional, but it’s hard to disagree with the passion of Harry Knowles on this, while Kevin Jagernauth provides some necessary background to the story. I agree that it’s a bummer this is happening during the era of Daniel Craig. As far as I’m concerned, Craig is easily the best Bond since Connery.
In which I shamelessly plug the new exploitarama from my long time friend and cohort, Cody Jarrett. “Sugar Boxx” a women-in-prison low-budget extravaganza of sex, mayhem and other tried and true filmic values premieres tomorrow night, September 5th, at midnight at the Sunset 5 Theatres on the eastern edge of West Hollywood. Those lucky enough to be in attendance will be treated to sexy nudity, a great score (by The Millionaire of Combustible Edison and Steven Adler, formerly of Guns ‘n Roses), gratuitous violence, nudielicious sex, a line of hilarious-yet-pithy dialogue 40% written by me as well as brief flashes…of me (in a nonspeaking role!), nudity, Russ Meyer superstars Tura Satana and Kitten Natividad and the smoking-hot stars of tomorrow (and reality TV), foul language, a little violence, and some more or less nude lesbian sex.
You can see just a hint of that below:
The show is likely to be crowded with famed cast members (including me!) and may well sell out, so buying your tickets early is a good thing. You may still be able to do so here. And, if you can’t make it — acceptable excuses include living thousands of miles from greater Los Angeles — the absolute least you can do is to check out the Sugar Boxx Facebook page as well as the fabulous official website which will no doubt help keep you informed as to various means of viewing this soon-to-be-enormous masterwork.
And while I’m promoting seventies exploitation homages, I should push one I’m actually in (and maybe some day I’ll get some lines in something).
Sugarboxx, a very tasteful, R-rated tribute to women-in-prison films of yore from the mind of underground cinema genius and complete-stranger-to-me Cody Jarrett, premieres at midnight, a week from tonight at L.A. Sunset Five theaters. For more on the movie and the premiere, details are here. Genuine, certified no-prizes for anyone who spots me in the very cool and moderately NSFW trailer below. At least one more plug to come.