Tura with Don Gustason

“Tura Thursday” is a regular series celebrating the legacy of the late, great Tura Satana, best known as Varla in the 1965 Russ Meyer cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. This series is curated by Tura’s longtime manager, friend, confidant and CEO of Tura Satana Productions, Siouxzan Perry.

Tura with Don Gustason
Tura with Don Gustason

Last week we blogged about Tura’s adventures in Hawaii (read here). This week, more on her Hawaiian adventures in her own words…

After I left NYC, I was booked into Honolulu, Hawaii to the Beretania Follies. It is a little theater down a cul de sac street on the island of Oahu. It was a favorite hangout for the Navy and Marines.

The first time I appeared there I met quite a few of the weight lifters on the island, because I used to go the beach by the Hawaiian Village and get some sun and workout with the professor of physical education at the University of Hawaii. His name was Don Gustason. What a sweetheart he was. He found me lying there on the beach one day and we started talking about athletics and acrobatics. He asked me if I liked doing adagio or acrobatics. I told him that I was most definitely into that. We started working out and drew a bigger crowd then most of the Hawaiian shows up and down the beach.

One of the guys who worked at the Hawaiian Village was Coconut Willie. Willie could climb a tree just like a monkey and get the coconuts in nothing flat. He used to come and work out with us as well. Pretty soon all of the weightlifters from the area were there on the beach everyday to work out with us as well. I have some of the most fascinating pictures of me working on the beach with all of these guys. It seems that they all wanted to get their hands on my body. Not that they did anything with it, they just liked to touch.

But we always had lots of fun whenever we were on the beach. We had so many people taking pictures that they had to call security to move them along.


As I said, the Beretania Follies was a great hangout for Navy, Marines, Air Force and Army. It seemed that there was liberty every night and they came there. Well, I used to have a lot of fun with the sailors when I worked there, because I would take a couple of sailor hats and fit them on my boobs while I was dancing. I think that those guys sold them after a while, because I would notes from the guys saying that they bought some sailors hat that I had signed a worn on my boobs. I always signed the hats after the shows. When I twirled the tassels, the guys would go wild. Especially if I twirled them hard enough for one to fly off. That was the biggest hit of the night when that happened. The crowd would go absolutely wild.

Every day after I would get up, I would go to the beach and work out with Don. He was one of the nicest men I have ever met. He loved being around me and with me, but he never made a pass at me, which was surprising. We went to several other places to watch the shows and we were really good friends. Everyone thought that we had something going, but it was just friendship.



There was this one Captain on the police force in Honolulu who was sweet on me and we did have something going for a while. He had some very strange tastes when it came to making love. I guess I will have to tell you that story another time.

I used to come to Honolulu once ever six months and stay for perhaps four weeks to two months. I not only worked at the Beretania Follies, but at the Forbidden City, The Dunes and the Clouds too. I was considered a local girl after a while. Whenever I made a film it was a big deal in Hawaii.

One of the times that I was working at the Forbidden City, in walks James Arness. Big Jim and I hit it off right from the start. He came into the show and sat down right on the stage area. While I was dancing, he was drinking Mai Tai’s. That night I watched as he drank 50 Mai Tai’s and still walked out of there like he hadn’t had one drink. Well, he was so bombed that I took him home and put him to bed. I knew that he was in no condition to drive and I didn’t want him to get into any trouble.

Since I only had one bed, I climbed in there as well. I figured that he was sleeping pretty well. As soon as I was in bed (I should tell you that I like to sleep in the nude), I thought I was being attacked by a bear. All of a sudden I had these huge arms wrapped around me and these huge hands moving all over my body. I could hear him saying something into my hair. What did you say?

“I have wanted to do this for the longest time. I saw you on that stage and I knew that I had to have you wrapped in my arms. Oh honey, do you feel good! You are all woman aren’t you?”

“I am glad that you noticed that I wasn’t a guy. So glad you approve of my being all female. Now go to sleep!”

“Honey, there is no way that I am going to sleep with you in my arms. I need you and as long as I am holding you, I am going to have you.”

Well, if that’s how you see it, who am I to argue with my big guy? So I turned over and I was facing him.

“It will be a little hard to make love to me without taking off your clothes.”

With that statement, he seemed sober a little bit.

“Well if that’s all it takes then let’s get me undressed.”

You got it big guy. I started to take off his shirt and he was helping. Right around the time that he had his shirt off and was working on his pants, guess who passed out? Well, easy come, easy go!

I decided it was time for me to go to sleep as well. When I turned over it seemed that his hands automatically closed around my boobs and they stayed there for the rest of the night. The next morning when we work, he asked if we did anything.

“Why no, we didn’t, not for trying though. You just passed out and right in the middle of the interesting part. So we went to sleep. Now would you like some breakfast?”

“Yes, please, I would love some breakfast, but I need a drink as well.”

“Sorry, but I don’t drink and don’t keep anything here either. You will just have to wait until after breakfast and then I will take you home so that you can get what you need.”

Jim decided he didn’t need the drink after all. We laid down and held each other until I had to go to work that night. Then Jim came to the club and sat there and drank Mai Tai’s again. Boy could that man drink! We spent a lot of time together while he was on the island and then when he left, it was lonely. All the time that Jim and I were together, we never made love. He would hold me and would caress me, but we never made love.

It was while he was holding me one night that I found out that he was married. It was hard for him to tell me, because he had come to care for me, but he couldn’t break his marriage vows. He told me that his wife was in an institution and had been for quite some time. I was sorry for him and knew that we would be friends for all time, but never lovers. Jim had this strong sense of honor and I admired him for it.

When I got back to the mainland and Hollywood, I called Jim and let him know I was there. He invited me out to his ranch in Simi and introduced me to Apache. This was an Indian paint that was black and white. Apache was one beautiful horse and seemed to have an affinity with me. At first I rode him with normal riding gear, but then Jim told me that I could ride anyway I wanted to because no one could see me. So I took off my black riding shirt and bra. It was wonderful to ride Apache with just my shorts and that was it. The freedom that I felt was fantastic. I had never felt so free. My body soaked up the sun and my legs were wrapped around a powerhouse of strength. Finally I let Apache have his head and we ran full bore around the property through the trees and over the hills and through the water. It was glorious.

Jim told me that I could come and ride Apache any time I wanted to. It was so nice to have that freedom, that it never bothered me we never became lovers. We stayed friends. I still think that he is the most wonderful man alive. Many was the time that we would ride together and he loved to watch me ride in the nude. So many of my friends wanted to know where I went to get my suntan and I told them that I got it horseback riding. They never believed me and I couldn’t say that I blamed them. My tan was the same all over.

Jim loved riding with me because he liked the fact that I felt free with him and I didn’t have to pretend to be anything other than what and who I am. I think that is one of the reasons that I loved being with him.


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Tura Thursday