Monday, January 9, 2023

Charles Rammelkamp


Born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi in Hokkaido,
I moved to Chicago with my family in 1942.
The anti-Japanese bullying was bad enough,
but just before my tenth birthday,
a group of five teenagers raped me
when I was coming home from the grocery
with a loaf of bread for my mother.
Those boys were never prosecuted.

But my dad taught me martial arts – akido and karate –
and over the next fifteen years I got my revenge
on each and every one of those guys.
I dare say they suffered more than I had,
let’s leave it at that.

I married John Satana at thirteen,
started working Illinois nightclubs
after the marriage fell apart nine months later –
burlesque dancing, nude modeling –
my act combining martial arts and tassel-twirling.
Then I moved to LA, where the action was.

What a life! I dated Elvis and Sinatra,
worked the Trocadero on Sunset Strip,
had bit parts in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,
a prostitute in Billy Wilder’s Irma la Duce
starred in a number of B movies –
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and The Astro-Zombies among them.
But I had to quit acting
after an ex-boyfriend shot me in the stomach.

I also tossed in the towel on burlesque
  when California licensing laws led
club owners to require dancers to work topless.
I was a performer, not a sideshow freak.
So I got into hotel security in Reno,
trademarked my image, cashed in
on an action figure, Halloween masks, t-shirts,
worked the cult film conventions.

One time? I had to deal with this over-enthusiastic fan
who hid in my hotel room. He wound up
with a broken arm, busted nose and a twisted leg.
The house detective carried him out.

Charles reads "Getting Even and Getting Ahead":

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Charles confesses: "I’ve been researching burlesque stars of the twentieth century – vedettes, exotic dancers. Not surprisingly, they all seem to have interesting lives, often in the demimonde where noir thrives and crime is not uncommon. Tura Satana was a real noir figure, for sure! Born in Japan 1938, she grew up in Chicago, started dancing as a teen at the Club Rendezvous in Calumet City, where she was known as Galatea, the “Statue the Came to Life.” And that was just the start of a career that included television roles, an exploitation film, and a scifi horror cult classic The Astro Zombies."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP's A Magician Among the Spirits, a collection of poems about Harry Houdini, is a 2022 Blue Light Press Poetry winner and has just been published. A collection of flash fiction, Presto!, will be published in 2023 by Bamboo Dart Press. Another poetry collection entitled Transcendence has been accepted by BlazeVOX Books.

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