Saturday, July 02, 2005

Tura! Tura! Tura!

She's BIG! Well, perhaps more kindly put, Tura Satana has grown into her bosom. Ms. Satana was the Special Guest at last night's 'Midnight Mass with Peaches Christ', which opened its season with "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"

Peaches began the evening by debuting her new single "Idol Worship." Unlike other celebrities or 'pop stars,' Peaches sang this live, backed up by a chorus of Trannyshack regulars, choreographed by Fauxnique. (Yes, I saw one too many Trannyshack documentaries.) The song went over quite well, and was available for purchase in the lobby, along with much assorted Midnight Mass merchandise. (Peaches is becoming quite the 'product.') After a brief introductory monologue, including an explanation about the camera crew (the Independent Film Channel (IFC) was taping it for a series this fall), Peaches stepped aside for a video montage of Tura Satana's work.

Surprisingly enough, Tura has appeared in a couple remarkable features, including "Irma la Douce" and "My Man Flint." Then the lady herself entered to a 90% standing ovation. I don't know why, exactly, but I was not moved to do so. Well. I do know why. It's not like she's exactly Vanessa Redgrave. Anyway, I don't think anyone in our (Bob, Jimmy and Kevin) little section at the Bridge theatre stood, though we were conspicuously seated in the house left exit row. Tura entered wearing a size 20+ version of the costume she wore in "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" which was sort of a hoot. But she does look good for 66, and she definitely is not a starving has-been.

Peaches began her interview. She is simply fabulous at this. She was remarkably adept at making Ms. Satana feel comfortable, yet with a bit of a wink at the audience about how surreal the event was. Tura was also quite willing to spill as much dirt as Peaches (and the audience) wanted! In fact, she has apparently written an autobiography that is in search of a publisher. Peaches' program notes had a mini-biography of Tura, but she sort of fleshed it out during the interview. The woman has lived quite a life. She's partly Japanese and nearly 67 years old now, which meant that her life story begins with being in a Japanese internment camp when she was 3. From there, she was raped when she was 9, sent to a girls infirmary, ran away by age 13, at which point she began to use her anatomic gifts and was able to pass for 19. At which point, Harold Lloyd (yes, THAT Harold Lloyd) took nude photos of her, and her career in burlesque began! (She even appeared at the Condor Club here in San Francisco.) She shared a story about having an affair with Elvis Presley before he was discovered, and she claims to have been his confidant (as well as sexual stimulant, i.e. making over Priscilla to resemble her) throughout his life. Eventually, she was spotted by Billy Wilder and his wife at a club in L.A. (I would like to have had a bit more detail about what the Wilders were doing in a strip club...) We got some good dirt on Billy Wilder playing with her tassles on the set of "Irma La Douce," which performers she did not like working with in "Faster Pussycat!...," as well as how she worked with Russ Meyer, and a cool little story of it's premiere here in San Francisco.

The audience Q&A portion was actually much better than most episodes of this type have proved to be at film festivals! It started off with local celebrity, Leigh Crowe, asking for details about the bra Tura wore in the film. I cannot do justice to the way Leigh asked, which is why she is one of my favorite performers (ah, the days of "The Sick and Twisted Players"!!) in town! The rest of the questions sort of fade into a blur right now. However, there weren't any of those embarrassing 'James Lipton at The Actors Studio' type of idol worship questions, but real 'give us dirt and details' inquiries.

During all of this, camera people (2 on video and 2 still photographers) were running all over the place. I really don't know what this thing is going to look like as a finished product as there didn't appear to be a director in charge, nor any fixed point of view taken by any of the photographers. Plus, as we were seated in the exit row, this meant that there was a good deal of room in front of us, which they used as vantage point, aka got in our way.

Ms. Satana exited to another 90% standing ovation and was followed by Peaches' extraordinary collection of trailers of highlights of the coming Midnight Mass season. The print of "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" was in pretty good shape. (There was an exception in reel 8, as it cued 'houselights up/projector off' for no apparent reason.) Ms. Satana stayed in the lobby during the screening and was available for autographs and selling memorabilia in the lobby. (Jimmy got a full-sized, signed lobby poster and found out that she resides in Reno and suggested that she get a guest shot on "Reno 911!") She was going to be there after the film, too. (We chose to avoid the melee and ducked out a side door at the end.)

To sum up, I never dozed off. The event started in 'Drag Queen Time' - a good 20 minutes late, and we exited at 2:45 a.m. It was definitely a 'San Francisco Only' event!

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