Saturday, August 10, 2013

RIP Cerlet "Haji" Catton (1946 - 2013)

Francesca "Kitten" Natividad has just posted on Facebook news of the death of Russ Meyer actress Haji at the age of 67. Haji (real name: Cerlet Catton) was best known as the Italian third of the female gang in FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, but she also appeared a few short times in his other masterpiece BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, as well as more conspicuous roles in MOTOR PSYCHO, GOOD MORNING... AND GOODBYE! and SUPERVIXENS. Outside of Meyer's orbit, she also appeared in such exploitation fare as BIGFOOT, WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU, MR SPACEMAN and ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS, as well as in John Cassavetes' THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE.

Though her stage name carried a heady whiff of more exotic intrigue, Haji was North American -- a Quebecoise, according to most printed sources, though her own Facebook page set her origins in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She found her way into acting as an exotic dancer, taking her stage name from a term of endearment given her by her brother. She was the fiancée of actor and impressionist Frank Gorshin at the time of his death, at age 72, in 2005. According to Natividad, Haji was in apparently good health but succumbed to a heart attack shortly after complaining about not feeling well.

The news of Haji's passing strikes me as pertaining less to an actress or sex symbol than to a sorceress. Here is a link to a beautiful fan video that serves as a magnificent tribute to her potent and unearthly charms. There is nothing in it that is indecent or pornographic, but it is sufficiently erotic and powerful to fall under the heading of Not Safe For Work.

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