Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cult sirens from my youth : exotic Haji

This post has been long overdue but with all the everyday stuff I never got around to do the follow up to my post on cukt siren Tura Satana ( which I just gave the big overhaul ) and since Today would have been her 70th birthday here is my remembrance of the great Russ Meyer star Haji.

Now when I say "my remembrance " I have to mention that I did have a bit of help on writing this post especially in the biographic part since I´m not that well versed in all the facts of Haji´s personal life. So I had to look up a few sources and as usual I will put them in the link section.

With her wicked oriental eyes and over the top french accent, the well - endowed exotic dancer ( in every sense of the term ) simply known as Haji was the spunkiest and most exotic of famed sexploitation director Russ Meyer’s stars. Sexy and dangerous, Haji was a reoccurring favorite in five of his features, as well as in grindhouse cinema throughout the late sixties and early seventies, and despite disappearing from public life by the early 80s she managed to maintain and cultivate a cult following throughout her life. She also claimed to have once been engaged to Frank Gorshin, who played The Riddler in the 1960s’ tv series of Batman.

Born Barbarella Catton in Quebec in 1946, she was, she said, the " love child " of a philandering Filipino father, who was married, and a mother of English and Irish ancestry. Nicknamed Haji by her uncle, the painter William Downes, she had no hang - ups about sex or nudity. " I was taught that the body is like a goddess. Nudity is beautiful, " said the actress, who made the most of her other - worldly appearance. " I think I was sent here from another galaxy as an experiment, to observe you earthlings. " After growing up in Washington and New York, she became a single mother at 15 and moved to California to bring up her daughter, Cerlette.

Like Meyer's subsequent leading ladies, Erica Gavin and Kitten Natividad, Haji was discovered by the " King of the Nudies " while working as a dancer. She had started dancing when she was 14, and quickly moved to California to ply her trade in strip clubs, keeping quiet about her age. Her speciality dance was to The Girl From Ipanema. From 1962, she had a residency at The Losers, a Los Angeles strip club that gained its name from a changing billboard outside, identifying an unpopular name in the news; “ losers of the week ” included Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro.

Haji likened it to “ a Las Vegas revue show ”, and she was second in importance among the club’s dancers, the first place belonging to the even more imposing Tura Satana. Their relationship repeated itself in Faster, Pussycat; at one point the third Pussycat claims the pair “ make the Mafia look like Brownies ”.  Haji had no acting experience and didn't mind the basic conditions and non - existent budgets on her first three Meyer movies. " We would sleep in tents, we used outhouses, " she recalled. " I'd always have to watch for snakes and scorpions. We showered under a barrel of freezing water and we watched our own outfits every night by hand. I thought everyone did films this way. Then I went to 20th Century Fox to do Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls and they did your hair and make - up, they feed you, they dress you. But I'm glad I learned from the Russ Meyer school. He taught me how to be a soldier ."

In Motor Psycho, her 1965 acting debut, she was the wonderfully named Ruby Bonner, a widow hellbent on avenging the murder of her husband.

One of Russ Meyer’s most underrated films, Motor Psycho is the gritty tale of a country veterinarian who seeks revenge on a trio of bikers who rape his voluptuous wife, leaving her in a catatonic state. During his hunt he meets Ruby, a feisty Cajun woman, whose boorish traveling companion was murdered by the same bikers, and she joins forces with the vet to find vengeance in a climatic stand off in the Nevada desert.

While overshadowed by Meyer’s more colourful films, Motor Psycho is a fast paced thriller, and possibly one of Meyer’s best films. In her debut Haji became the standout player in picture, and it can be argued that Ruby was her richest part, and Haji gave her most dynamic performance. While Meyer’s female characters were often more powerful than the male characters throughout all of his films, Ruby was the first of Russ Meyer’s woman to be truly considered dangerous. She spat, she slapped and she cursed, but there was no doubt that this french she - wolf was all woman.

Haji made a big impression on Meyer during the making of Motor Psycho, and would end up not only being one of Meyer’s most frequently used actresses, but also worked in makeup, casting and costuming for many of his productions. The actor Charles Napier remembered her as “ a little distracting - she used to do make - up with only sneakers on ”.

Possibly the reason that Motor Psycho has been tragically over looked was that the same year Meyer filmed and released his masterpiece Faster, Pussycat ! … Kill ! … Kill ! This time Haji was joined by Tura Satana and Lori Williams ( who both only made the one Meyer film ) as a trio of murderous hot rodding kick - ass go - go dancers wreaking havoc.

A symphony of sex and violence, Haji played Rosie, the right hand to the vicious leader of the gang, Varla. An edgier version of her previous character, Rosie was sharp tonged and quick with a switch blade, and Meyer worked lesbian undertones into Haji’s character, who was in love with her leather clad boss. Highlights included Haji’s catfight with Lori Williams, and her angst over Varla’s seduction of a autistic muscle man.

One of the most beautifully shot sexploitation films ever made, Russ Meyer made good use of his gorgeous cast and the desert landscape, proving that exploitation could be art. Although the film would be a lost gem at the time of its release, Faster Pussycat ! … Kill ! … Kill ! would be rediscovered in the 90’s and become one of the most beloved grindhouse films of all time, turning Haji into an immortal icon of the genre.

" You just didn't see women taking over and beating up men in those days, " Haji told fansite Ultravixens. " Russ did something no one else had the imagination to do. And he was smart to use three bodied up women, so whether the picture's good or not, you will sort of stare at it. "

Indeed, Faster, Pussycat has become a touchstone of popular culture, acclaimed by film - makers like John Waters and Quentin Tarantino, referenced in rock and pop by the Cramps, the Spice Girls and the Killers, and even hailed by some as a feminist tract.The movie also enjoys a big lesbian following. However, Haji admitted Meyer had kept her in the dark about the exact nature of her character Rosie's relationship with Varla.

" I didn't even know I was supposed to be a lesbian in the picture ! " she said. " I never saw any indication in the script and I never played it like Tura and I were in love ! When we came to that scene when I was crying because Tura was making out with that man, I didn't understand why I should be crying. As an actress, I just do as I'm directed. Russ should have told me that in the beginning, I might have played things a little differently. I thought she was just this tough chick that I didn't argue with, I felt she was more like my big sister. "

Russ Meyer cast her again as Sorceress in Good Morning ... and Goodbye ! ( Confessions of a Sexy Supervixen in the UK ) in 1967, and Haji made a “ blink and you’ll miss it ” cameo ( she played the model in Phyllis Davis’ studio who cages the photographer ) in Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, the satirical, cautionary tale of a female rock group in Hollywood, his 1970 major studio debut co - written by the film critic Roger Ebert.

Haji also discovered the buxom Shari Eubank in a Los Angeles night spot and in 1975 wound up alongside her playing SuperHaji, the waitress who wears little else but a smile and a few strategically placed stones, in SuperVixens, another of Meyer's most memorable movies. 

Her accent, and affinity with nature, led to a misunderstanding during the making of Good Morning ... and Goodbye in which she played The Sorceress, clad in the type of cavegirl bikini Raquel Welch had recently popularised. Asking what she had in what appeared to be a box of cookies, the assistant director George Costello misheard her reply as a “ snack ”, and put his hand inside - only to find a live snake. Terrified, Costello hurled it away, and in Haji’s words : “ The snake landed on the benches and was slithering on the seats. Everybody cleared out. ”

Haji continued to make appearances in other b - films throughout the 70’s, but because she was not one for the casting couch  she never found the same success as she did with Russ Meyer. Her career didn't progress beyond the schlock and sexploitation of Robert F. Slatzer’s forgettable monster film Bigfoot, featuring John Carradine, in the role of an Indian woman; she can be briefly seen in the 1975 sexploitation film Wham ! Bam ! Thank You Spaceman ! and in possibly her most degrading film, she played a harem girl in 1976’s Ilsa : Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, the second of the tasteless but legendary Ilsa films starring Dyanne Thorne.

The same year she made a brief appearance in John Cassavetes’ notable film The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, which would be the best of her films from the era, but Haji slipped back into the sleazy side of cinema a year later for the porn movie The Amorous Adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. In 1981 Haji appeared in something called Demonoid : Messenger of Death, which would prove to be her final film for the next twenty years. In 2001 she teamed up with Meyer alumni Natividad and Raven De La Croix in the straight to video The Double - D Avenger.

She ran her fan club, made appearances at b - movie conventions and burlesque events and also enjoyed looking after her granddaughter and rescuing greyhounds. She never married. " Men always seem to want to put you in cage. Or change you, " she said. Tempus Fugit.

To make this post I had to look up a lot of information and the Haji orbituary at INDEPENDENT filled up a lot of the gaps. Also helpful was Sam Tweedle´s a tribute to Haji on CONFESSIONS OF A POP CULTURE ADDICT which has a lot of other interesting posts like The Deadliest Pussycat of Them All : A Conversation with Tura Satana and A Tribute to Tura Satana.

Chris Poggiali on SHOCK CINEMA has an interview with Haji , of course there is an entry about Tura Satana on the CULT SIRENS website and for more about Russ Meyer´s cult movies David Kalat at MOVIE MORLOCKS has a post on Faster Pussycat called Tura Satana vs The World and Alfred Aker covers Supervixens and Beneath The Valley Of The Ultravixens .

I don´t think Russ Meyer´s movies are in the public domain but you can find most of them on YouTube. A lot of them have nudity which makes them NSFW so I´ll post Motor Psycho for those who still haven´t seen it.

Here´s a nice tribute video with other women from Russ Meyer movies.

Speaking about Russ Meyer movies Schlager singer Antonia aus Tirol ( real name Sandra Stumptner ) surely has the necessary qualities to have starred in one of them even if I could not confirm her exact cupsize.

What I DO know is that she has a lot of adult male fans in Germany who are not into Schlager music but she does have two convincing DD arguments !

I can however say that russian singer, snow dancer and designer Anna Semenovich clocks in at a whopping 43E ! Not only would she be right at home in a Russ Meyer movie, she´s a perfect candidate for my SEARCH FOR POWER GIRL series as her music video I saw you dancing confirms.

Man, I wouldn´t mind bumping into her titanic twin torpedoes in a dark alley. Or get stuck in an elevator with her while delivering a year´s worth of condoms - she accidentally lost all her clothes, I took a viagra overdose.

From singers to actresses : german actress, b - promi and porn star Annina Ucatis rounds up our trio of voluptuous babes who could have been in a Russ Meyer movie if not for the curse of being born too late.

Another hot sexbomb who celebrates her birthday Today is Tatyana Ali who turns 37. She is best known for playing Ashley Banks on the hit tv show THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR which launched her singing career.

Did she have a booming hardbody like a teenage Janet Jackson or what ?

Man, with that terrific body and a voice to match Tatyana Ali´s the total package - and I´m not talking about Lex Luger. You work that body girl !

She really bOObed all out in later movie appearances like The Clown at Midnight or Fall Into Darkness which I have bought but still haven´t seen.

There are a few short clips with her from various talk show on YouTube but I picked her performance of Wait For It from the Arsenio Hall Show.

Speaking about nubian sexbombs and the Arsenio Hall Show, you might remember the sexsational Kenya Moore whom I mentioned in this post.

She also has an anniversary Today - it is her 45th - and when I made the post I didn´t have a good clip of her on the show but now I found one.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best

Nothing is obscene providing it is done in bad taste.

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