Vampira: Beatnik, Goth, Punk

That's why I have all the time in the world for Soo Catwoman.

The words "iconic" and "original" are tossed about far too promiscuously.

Surely, though, if they apply to anyone, it's the woman who started out life as Soo Lucas fifty-nine years ago.

London is a city renowned for its eccentrics:

Stanley Green, the "human billboard"; Screaming Lord Sutch, founder of the Monster Raving Loony Party; and Lyndon Yorke, "a fixture at the Henley Regatta [who] has, over the years, produced an amphibious Edwardian tricycle, a floating wicker bathchair and a nine-piece mechanical orchestra made of car windscreen wiper motors," to name only a very few.

That said, Lucas's "Catwoman" persona circa 1976 hasn't lost much of its arresting outrageousness, despite its ubiquitous (and unauthorized -- until recently) replication on countless posters, t-shirts and album covers -- and its adoption by generations of rebellious girls.

I presume her look emerged fully formed and sui generis from somewhere inside her brain:


Or did it?

Is it possible that, even pre-internet, Lucas had spotted a photo -- somewhere, somehow -- of an American actress who'd adopted a strikingly similar look an astonishing twenty years earlier?

Vampira 26

Some will counter that that's more like what we'd now call a female skinhead's "Chelsea" style than strictly "punk."

Fine. Regardless, imagine walking around like that in 1956 America; even in Los Angeles, that must have been, to say the least, an adventure.

Maila Nurmi always claimed that she'd been forced, albeit briefly, to go around like that after a freak hair salon accident.

She made the best of it, but her altered appearance was particularly problematic, because that same year she was shooting a movie in which she was expected to look like this: