Japophile Lite: it’s all About the Sublime

by Pasadena Adjacent

Not another series you ask? what do ya want to do, kill the lovelys? (Funny Girl). Instead, gather round as we at Pasadena Adjacent lead you on yet “another tour” of our Japophile tendencies. By lite we’re not talking authenticity but more of a hybrid form of thinking. Nothing new here; think Green and Green, Frank Lloyd Wright, Astro Boy. And lets not forget the art of Van Gogh and Matisse, who took to heart those Japanese block prints once used as a yesteryear form of packing peanuts. For team Pasadena Adjacent, it’s more about kitche. A kind of mix and match, low brow collision that takes place on a budget.

Which brings us to the memorialization of late cultist great, Tura Satana. She of Japanese birth to a silent film actor named Yamaguchi, and a contortionist circus performing mother whose heritage was Scots-Irish and native Cheyenne. Her early years included a stint at Manzanar. Later in Chicago, after supposedly being gang raped in her tweens, she studied the martial arts, picking up where the law left off. Next an underage Tura, having been sprung with the aid of her father from a juvenal delinquent camp, headed to Los Angeles where she became a photo model similar to cult queen Betty Page. She even posed nude for Harold Lloyd whom she credits for planting the idea of a future on the silver screen.

Photo Credit: Harold Loyde at the now feral John McDermott Estate

After a failed foray into modeling and nightclub singing, Tura returned to Chicago where she had people. She studied dance, ultimately  becoming a stripper on a popular circuit with greats Tempest Storm and Candy Barr. This led to being voted one of the 10 Best Undressed Burlesque Dancers of the 20th Century by Bill Hanna of Hanna-Barbera.

Kudos Tura!

Although Tura Satana may have turned down a proposal of marriage from Elvis, what she’s best known for is playing dark and dangerous “Varla.” The leader of a gang of go-go dancers in [this] Russ Meyer cult classic Faster Pussycat! Kill Kill

Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi (and Kitten Natividad) in their later years making the ephemera rounds

July 10, 1938February 4, 2011