Tag Archives: RIP

‘Tura! The Tura Satana Documentary’ Kickstarter Campaign

31 Mar

The Kickstarter campaign for the long-awaited documentary on Russ Meyer star and B-Movie legend Tura Satana is finally underway! The film, the release of which was Satana’s deathbed wish, is being produced by longtime manager and friend Siouxzan Perry and produced and directed by Cody Jarrett, with support from the YOMYOMF Foundation. With eleven days to go, the duo still need to raise roughly over $30,000, but there are some fantastic rewards up for grabs if you choose to back! Plus the end result of the documentary itself!!

tura doc

I, for one, am very excited for this project! Tura stunned audiences when Meyer’s cult film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was released in the 1960s and became a firm fan-favourite when the film became a midnight movie darling and cult favourite on the drive-in circuit. She left a lasting impression in cinema and pop culture with her dynamic depiction of Varla, the dominant, fast-driving, karate-chopping lesbian leader of a small girl gang, but unknown to some fans, also had a dynamic and turbulent life, including a childhood spent in a WWII Japanese relocation camp and a racially motivated rape that she would later avenge. It goes without saying that Tura was one hell of a woman, and her story deserves to be told.

There is some great involvement so far in this project, with contributions from Dita Von Teese, Ted V Mikels (who directed Tura in Astro Zombies and The Doll Squad), Margaret Cho (who will be providing the documentary’s narration), Shannon Lee, fellow Pussycat actors Lori Williams and Dennis Busch, and, of course, director John Waters, whose early championing of ‘Faster, Pussycat!’ in the 1970s helped elevate its cult status. As he so eloquently puts it; ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is beyond a doubt the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future’. 

tura model

Covering Satana’s personal life, career and the impact she left on the worlds of film, art, fashion, music and pop culture, Tura! looks set to be a rollercoaster of fun, and an eye-opening look into one of cinema’s unforgettable women of power.

Please, please donate where you can and help support this project to get off the ground. Tura had and continues to have so many fans, and if we all chipped in $5 each we could get this made and her story out there. I know personally how hard Siouxzan and Cody (and Helen!) have worked to get to this point, and all the work they have done to date to keep Tura’s memory alive and maintain and restore her estate. This has been a long time coming, and I have absolutely no doubts that it’s going to be great. This project could not be in the hands of more capable people, and I really wish them all the best with this.

You can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign here, and keep up to date with news on the project by following Tura Satana Productions on Twitter and Facebook!

GEEK TO GEEK CHIC – The Run Up To Wrestlemania!

3 Apr

It’s been a while since I did my usual wrestling run-down so with four days to go until this years Wrestlemania event, it seemed logical to return to some WWE themed musings, even if I’m slightly short of a rounded top ten…!

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7) FANDANGO
I’ve been waiting for his debut since WWE started showing us television teasers and I’m really hoping that its been worth the wait because right now I’m more than a little underwhelmed with new star Fandango (I say new, Fandango aka Johnny Curtis signed to the WWE back in 2006…). I’m aware that it’s all about the build up, but there are only so many weeks I can take of someone using the excuse of no-one pronouncing their name correctly to not fight in the ring. That, coupled with a gimmick I’m not entirely sure is going to be able to last that long, hasn’t left me with much patience for the guy (having said that, Brodus Clay’s gimmick has lasted a lot longer than I thought it ever would). So I’m quite looking forward to his actual in-ring debut against Jericho at Wrestlemania. The guy’s been given a great platform to showcase his debut so I’m really hoping that he’ll deliver.

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6) REID FLAIR
On a sad note, wrestling legend Ric Flair’s youngest son Reid was found dead last week, and although cause of death has yet to be confirmed, rumours of a drug overdose are circulating. Reid had recently returned to the US after wrestling in Japan under All Japan Pro. Reid was only six months older than me so this has had me thinking about things over the last week. Whatever the outcome, life is precious and short. Thoughts are with Ric and his family.

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5) RHODES SCHOLARS
When this tag team disbanded I didn’t think it would be long before they returned and, for once, I was right! A great team, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow work well against each other, both have egotistical characters that compliment each other and they can work the crowd really well. They’re not half bad in the ring either and I was genuinely quite disappointed when they originally announced that they would be parting ways… I’m happy to see that they have a Wrestlemania match (we all know that I think Cody Rhodes is something of a talented chap), not just for Rhodes but Sandow’s sake too. He’s currently one of the best in the ring and on the mic. Not so sure about their new cheerleaders though…

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4) BELLA TWINS
… Which leads me to the return of the Bella Twins, one of the biggest surprises WWE have landed on me this year. The Diva division is in a terrible state at the moment and it’s not something I’m particularly happy about, but I’m not so chuffed to see these two girls back in the ring either. Again,l I feel like I must stress that I’m still proud of the twins success and admire what they can do, which literally is stuff i can only dream of. But I’ve never thought that they were really much in the ring, and more of a bit of eye-candy for the male viewers. Seeing them handed a new contract isn’t surprising, the WWE  really need to do something to improve the female roster but I’m not sure handing contracts back to those who aren’t particularly skilled in the ring is the way to go about it. They havent been back long and have yet to impress me which anything impressive. One only hopes that there are some bigger plans in motion for them and the WWE puts a bit more training behind them (or their boyfriends John Cena and Daniel Bryan show them how to throw a good punch or two). Their return has also rendered one of their specials ‘twin magic’ useless. Nikki has had a breast enlargement which now makes it incredibly easy to tell the two apart.

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3) BILL MOODY
Another piece of news which really saddened me was the death of wrestling manager Bill Moody at the start of the month. Moody was probably best known for being The Undertaker’s manager Paul Bearer, whose gimmick of managing a funeral parlour worked really well against The Undertaker. Bearer was always dressed in black and wore deathly white make up, accompanying Undertaker to the ring by carrying the now iconic golden urn. Moody was my favourite manager, for me his gimmick combined with The Undertaker’s presence was just perfect. A perfect equation where manager and client were just meant to be, both becoming stars in their own right, When you think of 90s wrestling, Moody is just as iconic outside of the ring as those you remember inside it. A genuine loss…

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2) CM PUNK VS THE UNDERTAKER
…Which brings me to number two on the list and the match I am most looking forward to at Wrestlemania. Do I care about The Rock VS John Cena? Nope. Way too recent for my liking. But this match between Punk and Undertaker has the potential to be one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history. Undertaker is going for his 21st straight win and it’s more than unlikely that the WWE are even going to stop that streak, but Punk is a worthy opponent and the run up to this match has been truly something… Because of the use of the now deceased Bill Moody. I’ll be honest, I was a bit in shock to see Punk open the urn and spill the ashes over Undertaker on this weeks Raw (and yes, I know it’s not real but its symbolic) and to see Paul Heyman dressed up as Bill Moody. Still, it’s all building up to one hell of a match and one can only assume that if anyone involved had any problems going with the angle, they wouldn’t have agreed to do it. Still, its clear to see that its left a lot of fans mixed.

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1) DDP, JAKE ROBERTS & SCOTT HALL
What I’ve seen so far of DDP I’ve liked but this year the man has jumped up a hell of a lot of notches in my book just for being a decent human being. DDP took in WWF legend Jake Roberts in a bid to help him turn his life around (those who know Roberts will know he has had quite a few problems in his life) one last time for the better and the results so far are nothing short of amazing. So when fellow wrestler and friend Scott Hall (aka Razor Ramon) reached our for help, DDP took him in, worked out what help Hall would need and set up a donation page in an attempt to help fund part of his much-needed hip replacement and rehab, amongst other things. For me, it’s not about calling on the fans to help out financially, it’s the fact that DDP saw he had a friend in need and didn’t hesitate to help. There aren’t enough people like that in the world and its such an inspiring act to see. I know we all say how much we love our friends, sometimes more than our biological family, but how many of us would really help out that much? It’s not about the money, having a big enough home to look after enough people, having the contacts to call upon; it’s about being a friend. Kudos to DDP for not turning his back on people and here’s hoping we can all learn a little lesson from this episode. Here’s wishing Scott Hall all the best for the future.

The Marvelous Mrs. Meyer – Eve Turner (1928-1977)

9 Aug

Behind every successful man, there is a woman. Director Russ Meyer had three wives in his lifetime but it was his second wife, Eve Meyer (nee Turner), who really stands out from the crowd. Russ and Eve were a hardworking team, one that knew how to work with and bring out the best in each other. Even after they divorced, Eve remained a formidable force in his life. She was his original pin-up queen, the star of one of his films, the producer of countless others and a savvy business woman who knew how to deal with the sexploitation film market as much as her husband did. Eve Meyer, one of a kind.

Evelyn Eugene Turner was born into the world on December 13th 1928 in Atlanta, Georgia. After working a while for Western Union she was eventually transferred to San Francisco where she became a legal secretary for Pepsi.  Turner always knew she could handle men and match them as an equal, being a great poker player and having a keen interest in fishing. She also has a vivacious sexual appetite, once even throwing Russ Meyer out of her house after a date when he (of all people!) suggested that they wait until their wedding night! A woman ahead of her time, her friend once said of her, ‘Eve was the first person that I ever saw wear pants and heels’.

As soon as Meyer set his eyes on Turner he knew she was the one for him. With a bust described as ‘conically maddening’ (a good thing for our breast loving director), Russ admitted that he knew he’d marry her the minute they’d met and he’d even go on to name his filmmaking company Eve Productions. She was the secretary of a lawyer, he was a divorce client of the said lawyer. He was given her number and the rest is history. After a tempestuous engagement, the two were married on August 2nd 1952 in San Francisco.

Eve was an incredibly beautiful woman and it wouldn’t take long for her to become a pin-up superstar in front of Russ’s camera. Her looks photographed well and her personality shone through in all her pictures; a woman that was able to be a girl-next-door one minute and a sultry vamp the next, Monroe crossed with Turner and then some. She already had some modelling experience behind her when she first met Russ, but it would take him months of persuasion to try to get her to pose for him. It’s not surprising that she eventually became one of the most popular pin-up models of the 1950s, constantly appearing in magazines like Adam, Fling, Modern Man and Frolic. Mr. Meyer even told stories that actress Ava Gardner had the hots for Eve (Mrs. Meyer accompanied her husband on one of his early jobs as a studio stills photographer and Gardner was his first assignment). In 1955, Eve appeared in Playboy as Miss June, in a fantastic spread photographed by her husband. The pictorial is electric and the gatefold in particular is more arousing then any porno picture I’ve seen that’s been shot in the last twenty years or so. The spread featured Eve by the fireplace, wearing a sheer gown that shows just about the right amount, with a look on her face that screams ‘Well, are you gonna come get it or not?’. I have always maintained that she was and is one of the most beautiful creatures to have ever graced this Earth, this spread being proof (a nice selection of some more gorgeous photographs from across her career can be found here).

Not content with being just a model, Eve also did some film work, predominantly working again for Russ in front of the camera. In 1954 or 1955 (dates vary according to sources) Eve starred in Russ’s first involvement within the exploitation movie business, an expose on abortion entitled The Desperate Women. Circling around innocent women and a shady backstreet abortionist (a clichéd character that Meyer revived for his studio picture Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in 1970), the posters showed an angst ridden Eve under the tagline ‘Shall I Take The ‘Easy’ Way Out?’. An uncredited role followed in 1955 as a model in Artists And Models and four years later Eve landed a lead role in war drama Operation Dames aka Girls In Action (1959). Difficult to find on home video format, the only video I’ve seen (posted below) shows that she is just as good in this as she was in her later picture with her husband, her natural good looks standing out and her enviable figure making more than an impression.


It would be Russ Meyer’s 1960 release Eve and The Handyman which saw Eve finally become her husband’s moving-image muse. Eve had been upset that Russ had ignored her whilst filming The Immoral Mr. Teas. Used to working as a team, Eve wasn’t the star in his first feature and was upset that some of the interiors were filmed inside the couples actual home. Russ made up for it by writing his second feature for his wife and, wow, does she shine in it. Using the scenes like Playboy photo shoot set-ups, Eve looks beautiful as she marches around in a trench coat and underwear following the Handyman, played by long-term Meyer friend Anthony James Ryan. By this point already used to Russ’s way of directing and shooting, Eve is one of the few women most comfortable in front of the directors camera throughout his entire filmography. The two could really work well together and it shows. He knows all the right angles to film her at and she knows just what the camera, and audience, are after. It’s just a shame that Handyman would be her last acting role. God knows where she would have gone had Meyer used her as an actress over and over.

It wasn’t just in front of the camera that Eve felt comfortable but behind it too. When Russ Meyer ran into trouble with Bill Teas over the distribution of sexploitation classic The Immoral Mr. Teas (the distribution of which Eve oversaw), it was his wife who came to the rescue, buying Teas out of his 2% share in the film. She also accompanied him to Europe in 1963 to help him shoot the footage that would comprise Europe In The Raw and eventually show up in a recycled form in Mondo Topless. She put up half of the bankroll for the production of Mudhoney. It’s no secret that she hated Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and had to be talked into co-financing it, only for it to bomb on release and drain Eve Productions dry. Eve even bailed out Russ during the production of Vixen! after he ran out of money, a bail out which saw very hefty returns in profit. Basically put, no Eve, no sexploitation/cult film classics from the 1960s. In total she produced fourteen of her husbands films, both his independent and studio releases. What do you expect from the girl who learnt to develop photographs so she could develop her husbands own pictures of her!

Once things started heating up for Russ in the mid-sixties, things in his marriage began to cool down. Eve reportedly didn’t like the direction his career was going in and was terrified of him getting involved with other women. Eve also began to drink, and by drink I mean really drink, which Russ detested. The two eventually divorced in 1968. An amicable separation (apparently even using the same attorney), the two still remained friends up until Eve’s tragic death in 1977. She was the distributer of all Russ’s films and produced a significant number of them after their divorce, including the studio pictures made under 20th Century Fox. Ever the savvy businesswoman, in 1970 she sold the entire catalogue of Meyer’s films to Optronics Laboratories for home video viewing. In 1971 she produced her only non-Meyer feature, The Jesus Trip, a drug/religion drama that involved motorbikes concealing heroin and a nun that doesn’t know whether she wants love or the Church. In 1975 there was a rumour that Eve was planning to write a book about her years collaborating with Russ that was to be titled This Doll Was Not X-Rated. Sadly the book never materialised but one wonders that it might have been full of juicy stories about the pair.

Eve Meyer died on March 27th 1977 in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in history. Arriving in the Canary Islands from Los Angeles for a holiday, Meyer’s plane was hit by another Boeing aircraft. Due to dense fog along the runway, neither plane nor Air Traffic Control could see that two planes were about to collide. In total, 583 people died with one plane being wiped out in its entirety. Despite their divorce, Russ was reportedly beside himself.

There is no doubting that Russ and Eve were meant for each other and loved one another very much. Not that their marriage was an easy one, with a fair few infidelities on Mr. Meyer’s part and a few alleged lesbian dalliances on Mrs. Meyer’s side. She also wanted children, whilst he was adamant that a family would only get in the way of his career. During the shoot for Lorna, Eve checked herself into a hospital for an unknown infection. Her words to Russ when he finally visited her were apparently ‘I can never have a baby, now. I hope you’re satisfied’. God knows how Eve would have felt if she found out that Russ actually had an illegitimate son with one of his starring ladies. No doubt their explosive marriage would have been far shorter. Differences aside, the two were a force to be reckoned with. Each knew the best in each other, what the audience wanted and how to deal with the business side of things. It’s hardly surprising that Russ Meyer’s most successful years were those with Eve at his side, whether it be as his muse, producer, wife or business partner. Whilst the world of sexploitation owes a lot to Russ, it seems that he couldn’t have done it without Eve.

Eve Meyer, one of a kind.

Cynthia Myers 1950-2011 RIP

11 Nov

God bless the beautiful Cynthia Myers who sadly passed away a week ago. Myers was well-known for her role in Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and for her memorable pictorial’s for Playboy magazine during the 1960s.

Born in Toledo, Ohio on September 12th 1950, Myers noticed her buxom figuring developing at thirteen. After a brief attempt at becoming a competitive equestrian, at fourteen Myers decided to turn her head to modelling. Myers career first started in 1965 with swimsuit modelling before Playboy eventually came calling a few years later. Photographed by Pompeo Posar (a noted Playboy staff photographer) in June 1968, Myers was seventeen and Hefner had to hold on to her pictures and publish them once she turned eighteen as per Playboy policy. A few extra photographs, and months, later and Cynthia appeared as the Playboy centrefold and playmate in the December issue (her pictorial titled ‘Wholly Toledo!’). Her spread and front cover have become iconic, Myers dressed up as a Christmas tree with presents at her feet. And, boy, does she look beautiful. Full of innocence with a little hint of knowing, Myers comes across as the most perfect girl-next-door you could ask to have under your Christmas tree. Incredibly photogenic, her natural beauty, and assets, are  enviable and it’s easy to see why she became one of the most iconic Playmates of the 1960s. She was the most popular pin-up with American troops during the Vietnam War, her pictorial generating the most mail that Playboy had ever had up to that point in time. Myers made sure she wrote back to every Troop that had written to her. The centrefold itself even appears in the 1987  film Hamburger Hill. The pictures, however, caused an uproar in her home town. Raised in a close family and a pupil at a Catholic school, she was initially refused by Nuns to graduate with the rest of her class until they gave in following her high grades. Around the same time her feature was published, she left Toledo and was given an apartment at the Playboy Mansion where she also managed to get a job working at the Chicago Playboy Club.

Myers iconic Playboy cover for the December 1968 issue

Whilst working for Playboy Club, Hugh Hefner asked Myers to be in his television show Playboy After Dark which was being syndicated for a second season. Through the series, Cynthia was introduced to Burt Lancaster who offered her a role in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969). Memorable for being one of the marathon dancers, all her speaking parts were unfortunately cut from the picture. During filming she befriended fellow co-star Bruce Dern, with whom she undertook acting classes in a bid to learn the craft and be taken seriously. She has another entry listed on IMDB for an uncredited part in The Lost Continent which was shot the year before (1968). She will ultimately, however, be remembered most of all for her third feature, Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).

 Myers (right) as Casey with Erica Gavin as lesbian lover Roxanne in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

Personally chosen by director Meyer to star in the film, Cynthia Myers is one of the stand out’s in the Beyond the Valley of the Dolls cast. She plays the role of Casey, bassist in a rock and roll girl band called The Carrie Nations, who becomes disillusioned with the hedonistic lifestyle the group become involved in. After drunkenly sleeping with her manager, throwing him out and then finding she’s pregnant with his child, Casey confides in new friend Roxanne (co-star Erica Gavin, previously seen in Meyer’s Vixen!) who persuades her to have an abortion. The two then fall in love and become a couple. Myers scenes with Gavin are particularly special as the two clearly had chemistry and developed a good friendship that lasted right up until Myers sad passing. Undoubtedly two of the most naturally beautiful women to ever grace a Russ Meyer film, their relationship is played out charmingly and sensitively. Their sex scene in particular is incredibly tender and very real. Especially as Myers decided not to fake the orgasm because she didn’t know how to; ‘If you’re worried so much about pretending just don’t pretend. Just do it.‘. 

Cynthia on the set of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with director Russ Meyer (left), co-star Dolly Reed and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (right) 

After taking one of the leads in Russ Meyer’s feature, Cynthia would appear in two more films in supporting roles, both pictures being Westerns. First up was Devil’s Canyon, a Mormon production that unfortunately was never completed. Second was Molly and Lawless John (1972) in which Myers played the girlfriend of prisoner Sam Elliott, a man trying to escape John Anderson’s jail. This was to be Myers last acting role. She had at the time moved in with her Beyond the Valley of the Dolls co-star Michael Blodgett and put her career to one side whilst they were together. It was also around this time that Myers started modelling for the Cerwin-Vega corporation who specialised in stereo equipment. She was the face of the company and their ‘Miss Earthquake’ campaign when they developed the Sensurround system for the 1974 films Earthquake and The Towering Inferno.

Since the 1980s Myers has been a regular on the Glamourcon and Hollywood Collecter Show circuit. In 1994 it was revealed that one of the pictures from her original pictorial had been enclosed in the checklist for the Apollo 12 mission and was blasted into space in the pocket of astronaut Al Bean. The year 2000 saw her voted ‘tenth most popular Playmate of the Century’ by Playboy magazine. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was released on DVD in 2007 with an audio commentary that includes Myers alongside the rest of the main cast. She also appears in some extra features talking about her time and thoughts on the film and a lovely little featurette with Erica Gavin in which they talk about playing the roles of Casey and Roxanne. In 2009 she was chosen by Schlitz Brewing Company to be the face of their ‘Back to the Sixties formula’ campaign, the photograph used still as striking now as it was when first published forty years ago.

Cynthia Jeanette Myers was born in Toledo, Ohio on September 12th 1950. She died in Los Angeles, California on November 4th 2011, aged 61.