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VIDEO ESSAY: HAJI!

Video
by Robert Nishimura
June 29, 2012 8:55 AM
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I personally prefer the aggressive female . . . the superwoman. -- Russ Meyer

In the 1960s there was a huge revival in striptease by way of topless go-go dancing. In Los Angeles there were a bevy of strip clubs that catered to all tastes. One particular swanky strip joint on La Cienega Boulevard, called The Losers, highlighted unpopular figures from current events. Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, and other celebrity screw-ups would be lit up on the billboard as the loser of each week. Aside from that tasteless gimmick, The Losers was a little more classy than your usual strip club. Its dancers promoted classic burlesque and Las Vegas-style showmanship that attracted more sophisticated customers. One infamous patron of the establishment was Russ Meyer, who would often go there to select the sumptous starlets for his features. Nearly all of Meyer's stars began their career at The Losers: Tura Satana, Erica Gavin, Kitten Navidad, Bebe Louie, Shawn "Baby Doll" Devereaux, and my personal favorite, Haji. If there were any kind of pecking order at The Losers (which there was), Tura Satana would certainly be at the head of the table, but Haji would be second in command. When Mr. Meyer finally persuaded Haji to audition for a minor role in his next picture, Haji admitted that she didn't know the first thing about acting.  "Stick with me, kid," said Meyer, "I'll teach you everything you need to know." It would only be the beginning of her legendary, ass-kicking career.
 
Robert Nishimura is a Japan-based filmmaker, artist, and freelance designer. His designs can be found at Primolandia Productions. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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