Russ Meyer is one of my absolute favourite directors as a purveyor of camp fun, cheekiness and sleaze. His movies are always a joy to watch if you have a silly sense of humour, and he often casts women as supremely powerful and sexually aggressive. He is also a famous breast fetishist, and chose his leading ladies accordingly. I had to review this movie after hearing about the death of Haji earlier this month – Haji was a Go-go dancer and this was one of her most famous movies.
Director: Russ Meyer
Stars: Tura Santana, Haji, Lori Williams
Ratings: UK 18, USA Unrated – (Much is made of the violence in this film, but it is camp and exaggerated – there is brief nudity but most of the ‘good bits’ are cut out of shot)
Bisexual Characters: Varla, Billie (Rosie is a lesbian)
Description: Three thrill seeking and deadly Go-go dancers in fast cars set off on a killing spree in the desert, kidnapping the young girlfriend of one of their victims before going after an old man’s money. Fast cars, karate chopping action and cheesy innuendo abounds.
I first watched this film when I was around seventeen, when I was first discovering Russ Meyer and I have to say, I still find it wildly entertaining. Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! is considered to be Meyer’s magnum opus, and is a complete cult classic. It is an interesting film to watch from a female empowerment perspective as for its time (mid-sixties) the three central characters are refreshingly subversive. Varla, Rosie and Billie are all dominant, fun-loving, violent and unapologetic – which may or may not be your cup of tea, but is certainly ahead of its time. Women are seen again and again beating men in challenges of strength, wit and even drag racing in this movie, and even though their bodies all conform to a very particular ‘type’, they are definitely in charge of their own sexual destinies.
Presentation of Bisexuality
Bisexual women are often found in Russ Meyer’s work, and this film is no different. It is made fairly clear through not-so-subtle puns that two of the girls (Varla and Billie) are bisexual, while Rosie is gay and has no interest in men. In fact, Rosie and Varla are lovers (although this is never explicitly shown, only heavily implied) and Rosie becomes massively jealous when Varla goes after a dude. This of course (once again!) covers the ever popular trope that bisexuals are sex maniacs who are never satisfied with simply one partner of one gender. Something which Billie’s character explains to Rosie beautifully:
I can turn myself on a dozen different ways, but you? You’ve only got one channel, and your channel’s busy tuning in outside. You really should be AM and FM – you one-band broads are a drag!
|Tura Santana as Varla|
Varla, played by the magnificent Tura Santana, fulfills another popular trope – the depraved bisexual. She is clearly the most psychopathic and violent of the three women, as their leader, and her appetite for murder and mayhem is equalled only by her voracious appetite for sex. I definitely think that bisexuality here is used as an example of depravity, as Varla makes it clear that she will do anything and screw anything.
[I want] Everything – or as much as I can get. Right now you’re first on my list – and I always start at the top.
This film is not for everybody, that’s granted. It’s a fairly obscure kind of ‘genre’, and regarded by most as a quirky B-movie throwback. But the humour, I think, still stands, and the unashamed hammy acting has only increased its longevity. As a bisexual movie it would not be the top of any list I made, but it is certainly an excellent example of the tropes I mentioned.