(from International DeeJay Gigolos)
Although immortalized as "Rosie," the snarling gogo dancer in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966), Haji first appeared in Motorpsycho (1965) and has more Russ Meyer titles to her credit than any other actress on the breastmeister's talent roster. It's Haji we have to thank for bringing some of the most awe-inspiring beauties to the Russ Meyer screen - having scouted out many of them herself. She also made significant creative contributions to the films in which she appeared, in addition to writing most of her dialogue. Haji infused her own brand of psychedelia with her roles in the Russ Meyer films Good Morning and Goodbye (1967) and Supervixens (1975) incorporating uncommon elements like witchcrahft and bodypainting into his standard, redneck, sexploitation features.
Haji speaks with an indistinguish able accent, and a rather selective memory. She's actually quite timid and softspoken for someone celebrated mostly for cat fighting and drag racing. Having always shied away from the cult limelight, only recently has Haji become aware of the impact her Russ Meyer films have made. She's both thrilled and mystified by the attention she receives from fans, and breaks into hysterics when they quote her lines.
Although she stepped down from the gogo pad years ago, Haji still makes an occasional film. She isn't very comfortable around other humans and prefers living quietly in Malibu. She's truly a woman of the earth, "Nature is my drug, I have this thing for trees..." and starts her day early, body surfing naked at 6:00 am. During any given full moon, it wouldn't be unusual to find Haji performing her own little blood letting rituals on the cliffs above the Malibu shore in prayers to protect the magic of life."
Is Haji your real name?
Where did the name come from, does it mean something? I don't know if I want to tell this. . . go on to the next question (laughs). This is probably going to be a very short inter view!
You still look so incredible. I hear you're a vitamin and exercise freak, what are your beauty secrets?
Well thank you, I want you to print a recent picture of me because I know people are thinking, "Well how does the old bag look now?" The old bag's hangin' in there pretty good. Actually, I was very fortunate because my mother studied the herbs of the orient. My first beginnings of life were very connected with nature, I didn't know what earthlings were until I came out of the woods, and then I got scared and ran back in!
And where was that exactly?
I came visiting here with my family from another galaxy, and we landed in Quebec and Montreal. I never ate when I was a child. I lived off air. My mother was convinced I was sickly because she lived by nature and if an animal doesn't eat that means it's sickly. She took me to a doctor who said, "Leave her alone, she's very healthy, she's fine."
What were you like in high school, I can't for the life of me imagine a teenaged Haji.
Well, actually I was too wild to go to school. . .
What was your last grade completed?
Kindergarten! I walked in the first day, then sneaked right out! They tried to keep me in there, but I crawled out the window and ran away again. My schooling was very poor because I felt more comfortable in the woods than I did in a classroom. When I see branches of trees, the way they bend. . . sort of wicked-like, I always want to take my clothes off and mold my body into the branches. I feel very comfortable doing that, I don't know why! Nature is so real, it's so magical. I've always lived in the woods growing up, in the mountains or by water. I'm awed by it. I think a lot - I think a lot about all the little creatures in the ocean. The power of life to me is so fascinating.
When did you get into exotic dancing?
I was fourteen when I started stripping and burlesque - I did Greek dancing and belly dancing. I looked older because I, you know, was a little developed. I was always afraid I was going to get arrested, I was so relieved when I turned twenty-one. I didn't run away from home, I was just wild with life. It never entered my mind to be an actress. I came to California to be near the ocean, I have this love affair with Malibu. Russ found me working in a club and read me for a small part in Motorpsycho. But then he decided to star me, and I told him I didn't know the first thing about acting! He told me, "Don't worry baby, just stick with me, I'll teach you everything." So I just sort of did it, I wasn't terrific, but it was fun!
How did you feel about the script for Faster, Pussycat! the first time you read it?
I loved it, I thought it was great.
Why do you think the movie has been so successful?
You got me there! Russ was a little ahead of his time, you just didn't see women taking over and beating up men in those days. 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 still sort of stare at it. It was a good recipe.
How did you feel about the lesbian overtones?
I didn't even know I was supposed to be a lesbian in the picture! 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. But as an actress I just do as I'm directed. Afterwards, I asked Russ about it and he said, "Well you're jealous because she's your lover and she's with a man. . . " I said "Ooooooh! I didn't know we were lesbians!!" He 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."
Were you friendly with Tura before you did the movie?
Yes, we were dancers together. We worked at a very plush, classy supper club called The Losers. You never took anything off there. I would do erotic dancing to songs like "The Girl from Impanema," music like that. Tura and I got along great, but a lot of girls were afraid of her. She was pretty bad, nobody would dare use her makeup or hairbrush, or ever borrow anything from her.
What about Lori Williams, the other pussycat?
She came to a Russ Meyer film festival in Los Angeles recently and gave Russ her number. We were both very excited because Russ and I had been looking for her for years. But Russ lost her number, it was such a disappointment. She was wonderful to work with, the three of us got along great.
Was the movie fun to make?
Yeah it was, we got to do a lot of the stunt driving ourselves, and I loved the fight scenes! But working with Russ was rough. He would pile everyone into a truck and drive out to the desert. We would sleep in tents, we used outhouses. I'd always have to watch for snakes and scorpions. We showered under a barrel of freezing water and we washed 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 oooh!. . . they do your hair and makeup, they feed you, they dress you. I thought no wonder so many actresses have attitudes! But l'm glad I learned from the Russ Meyer school.
Do you have a favorite of your Russ Meyer movies?
I had a lot of fun doing Faster, Pussycat! because of the girls and the craziness, but my favorite is probably Good Morning and Goodbye. I haven't seen those movies since we did them. I'm anxious to see Motorpsycho because it just came out on video.
Have you ever been married?
I've had opportunities, I've even been engaged, but men always seem to want to put you in a cage. Or change you. Right now l'm madly in love with somebody for the first time in my life.