1938-2011. Miss Japan Beautiful, femme fatale, mistress of revenge.
John Waters called her iconic character Varla in Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! “One of the best villains in screen history,” but in real life, Tura Satana was a femme fatale of even more epic proportions.
She did not have it easy as a child. Tura spent years at a Japanese internment camp with her father and brother; her mother, who was Native American, was forbidden from seeing them. In a twisted form of a super-heroine origin story, she became a hardened girl gang member after she was gang-raped at ten years old. By sixteen, she had moved to Los Angeles and was a well-known showgirl on the Sunset Strip, raking in money from patrons who lusted to see “Miss Japan Beautiful.” By twenty-one, she enchanted a man who would become an American icon.
Tura Satana not only taught Elvis “The Pelvis” Presley how to dance — as she once recalled, he’d asked her to show him how to twirl her nipple tassels, and she responded that she could teach him how to twirl one specific tassel — but how to kiss, and beyond: “He was definitely worth the effort,” she told Pamela Des Barres in Let's Spend The Night Together. Elvis eventually became so enamored with her that he proposed. She turned him down, but kept the diamond ring.
So, in 2017, just remember… you can get the guy… but grit is worth more than diamonds.