Tura Santana, Exploitation Film Icon, Dies at 72
FEBRUARY 7, 2011
Tura Santana’s role in the 60s exploitation film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, that violent joyride through the California desert, has become an ardent and violent cultural touchstone.
Just ask Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez, two directors who have made a career out of paying homage to pulp in films like Death Proof and the Kill Bill series. Babes, boobs, violence, wrath, and certainly no mercy.
Or ask John Waters, who called the film, "not only the best movie ever made but the best movie that ever will be made."
Santana played Varla, the leader of a trio of go-go dancers who raced their cars in the Mojave Desert and wreaked havoc on vacationers and pensioners alike. She wore black leather pants, a black short sleeved shirt with an eye-popping neckline, a shock of raven black hair with scythe like bangs and fierce, black-lined eyes. In short, she was a woman to be feared.
That trope has manifested itself in pop culture from Xena Warrior Princess’ to Aeon Flux: the dominatrix-as-action-star. In real life, Santana was a go-go dancer and pin up model. She was born in Japan and spent time in internment camps during World War II after her family emigrated to the U.S. She claimed to have turned down a marriage proposal from Elvis Presley (yeah right) and appeared in a few other films. But none as lasting, or as mean, as Varla.
Santana died Friday at the age of 72.
- from Obit magazine
rest in peace