“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 and Princess Domay
The following is an excerpt from Tura Satana’s soon-to-be-released autobiography and contains materials that might be considered racially insensitive, but we are posting “as is” to accurately reflect the era being written about.
The theater scene is totally different than the nightclub scene. In nightclubs, there is no sense of belonging; there is only the sense of competition. Around 1956 in burlesque it was totally different, but like anything, there are the exceptions to the rule. Princess Domay for instance.
Now there was a piece of work. Princess Domay was the headliner in the first Burlesque Theater that I ever worked in. It was the Grand Theater in St. Louis. On the bill was Princess Domay, the Cherokee Half-breed, Miss Stunning Smith, the lady with the Purple hair and myself as the extra added attraction. Since this was my first time working in a theater, I had no concept on to how to work the stage. I wasn’t sure about the runway and was a little intimidated.
I went out on stage when I was announced and proceeded to do my normal nightclub act. You have to understand that most nightclub stages were the size of three postage stamps! The audience liked my routine, but they were a little disappointed that I didn’t spend more time on the runway. After I came off stage, I started to head down to my dressing room.
Stunning Smith was there and she handed me a robe. I still had the Finale to do and the headliner was just finishing up. I waited in the wings with Stunning Smith and watched her as she went out on stage. She was all grace and poise. I was announced, walked out, took my bow, and backed up into the line with Stunning Smith. Princess Domay came out and with a very pronounced walk, jiggled her boobs across the stage, and took her bows.
When the curtain came down, she headed straight for me. She told me that under no circumstances was I to jiggle my boobs in the finale. If I did, I would be in big trouble. Stunning Smith looked at her and told her,” How the hell, is she supposed to stop what is perfectly natural?” Princess Domay said, “she just better not do it again.” I thought she was nuts.
On the next finale, I took my bows as I did before. When I was down in the dressing room area, Princess Domay came up behind me and raked her nails right over my right breast. She was yelling at me,” I told you not to do that on stage but you didn’t listen!”
With that, I turned around and I grabbed her.
“You don’t ever put your hands on me, but especially not in any hurtful way. Now I am going to teach you to mind your own business and to keep you hands off me.”
I literally lifted her over my head and tossed her against the wall across the sitting area of the dressing rooms. I wound up breaking her arm in two places. Her boyfriend came up and grabbed me from behind and I sent him flying right after her.
“You keep your hands off me as well, you piece of shit! Don’t ever touch me again. If you do, I will literally kill you!”
Thank goodness, it was the break for dinner and we didn’t have to be back for about 4 hours. Domay went to the hospital and had her arm put in a cast. Her boyfriend had his leg in a cast. For the show, she wrapped her cast in feathers, but she did complete the show that night. The owner of the theater told her that he would cancel the rest of her engagement at the theater because of her broken arm. Stunning Smith became the headliner and I became the co-star.
The owner told Domay that she would only get paid for the one day, because she caused all the trouble. I went on stage with the scratches on my boob and told the audience that I met someone very passionate during the dinner break.
After my engagement there, I went to Biloxi again. Princess Domay spent the rest of time on the burlesque circuit telling everyone what a bitch I was and that I was the most difficult person to get along with. Well, it didn’t take the crews at the various theaters long to find out what a crock of shit that was!
The bandleader at the Union City theater was ready for me to take him to task and when I didn’t, he looked at me and said, “You aren’t a bitch! Are you sure that everything is okay for you?”
I looked at him and asked, “Was Princess Domay here before me?” He nodded yes. “Say no more. She doesn’t like me, because I broke her arm in St. Louis. She scratched me across my right boob and I wreaked havoc on her and her pimp. Now she goes around and tells everyone what a bitch I am. I can be, when things don’t go right, but then I am sure that everyone is capable of doing stuff like that. Mostly, I just like to do my job and I love to dance to good music.”
Joe Lafferty asked if I had any special arrangements. I told him no, I just used the music that I bought in the music store. He told me that I needed music that was written especially for me. I said if he wanted to write something that he thought would be appropriate for me, then I would buy it.
It took about 6 months but the next time I came to Union City, he had my arrangements for me. They cost me over $600.00, but I loved them. The music was me. It was called:
THE LURE OF TURA, TURA’S MOOD and GO TURA!
St. Louis Mo. In the 1940’s the venue changed to burlesque. The Grand Opera House stood as an opera and vaudeville venue until the 1940s, when it was converted into a burlesque operation. It was well-known for its Moresque exterior and its 2300 seat venue. In 1963, the Grand Theater (as it was then known) was demolished as part of the urban renewal project associated with Busch Stadium.