This is How You Burlesque… Tura Satana

Serena Doherty June 11, 2016 Burlesque Icons
Tura Satana Burlesque

Cult icon, Tura Satana burlesque dancing is just as enchanting as she is. We could all learn a thing or two from this troubled burlesque dancer…

Tura Satana Burlesque History

Burlesque dancer, Tura Satana was born in Japan to a silent movie star and circus performer. Now that’s genes we can get behind.

World War II led to her family being unjustly incarcerated in the Manzanar internment camp in California. Her family then relocated to Chicago where as a child she was the victim of a horrendous crime where no one was ever convicted.

Needless to say Tura Satana faced adversity from an early age. This notoriously led her to train in martial arts and exact revenge on each of her attackers.

Like something straight out of a film, it’s no wonder Tura Satana ended up in show business. By 15 she had moved to LA and was using a fake ID to be a burlesque performer.

Read: Five 1950s Burlesque Icons.

Tura Satana

(Image from Tumblr)

Returning to her parents in Chicago she soon continued her life in the spotlight and stripping. There, singer Elvis Preseley saw her burlesque dancing at Chicago’s Follies Theater and they soon began a relationship.

The relationship didn’t work out but as time went by, Tura Satana was a hit on the burlesque circuit.

This success led Tura Satana to make the move into movies in the early 1960s. She first had a cameo in Irma la Douce (1963). She then landed a role as a a dancer in Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963).

Tura Satana is probably best remembered, however, for the sexually agressive Varla in Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill! (1965). She even had creative influence over dialogue, her image and martial arts.

After further films, her life got messy again. She was shot by a former lover, shunned fame for nursing and broke her back in a car accident.

Tura Satana is the embodiment of 1950s burlesque bad girls: all drama and seduction. She returned to acting briefly in 2002 but her cult status and influence is still felt in both her disciplines. What a controversial coquette.

See Tura Satana burlesque dancing in The Doll Squad (1973):

Check out This is How You Burlesque… Inga Ingenue.

(Main image from Red Lemonade)

Watch our burlesque video inspired by Tura Satana, played by Chloe Ewart