Vancouver International Burlesque Festival performer Kitten Natividad is finally getting the respect she deserves
Sixty-six-years old, and she’s still—to quote Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens—hotter than a Mexican’s lunch. “Ha! And you know who came up with that line, don’t you?” asks Kitten Natividad, referring to film critic Roger Ebert, who collaborated with Natividad and director Russ Meyer on the 1979 film. They’re both gone, but she’s obviously still going strong.
“I went to dinner yesterday with a guy that wanted to fuck me,” says the veteran sex icon, calling the Straight from her home in Los Angeles. “He says, ‘Can I come over and can we have fun?’ And he’s, like, 25. I don’t know why these guys want older women, but I love it.”
And so? Did he come over? Did they have some fun?
“Whaddya think, I’m stupid?” Natividad shrieks. “I have needs!”
The woman known to her mother as Francesca Isabel Natividad has been dancing, taking her clothes off, and having some fun since the late ’60s. She was a two-time Miss Nude Universe winner before beginning her association with Meyer, eventually becoming his partner and muse for 12 years. When she headlines the second day of the ninth annual Vancouver International Burlesque Festival on Friday (May 2), she’ll be performing for a considerably different crowd than the ones that haunted L.A.’s fabled Body Shop in the ’70s, or Austin’s Flash One, a Granville Street temple of tits and ass that used to welcome Ms. Natividad in the ’80s.
“Guess who the biggest supporters are now?” Natividad says, of a postmodern, postfeminist neo-burlesque scene that nobody saw coming back when she was table dancing for your granddad. “Women! I’ve never danced for so many women in my life. And let me tell you, I used to love dancing to men because I could visualize them eating me out or fucking me. Now I have to look at a woman. I go, ‘Oh, that’s a nice smile she has.’”
An infectious blast of giggling suggests that Natividad isn’t entirely serious. At the very least, she appreciates that trailblazers like herself, Judith Stein, and Suzzette Monique—all of whom are performing at this year’s VIBF—are finally getting the respect they deserve. “I feel that it was a long time coming,” she says, “and it’s so wonderful that women celebrate another woman’s sexuality.” But nostalgia for the bad old days still lingers, even as Natividad fell into a fast life that nearly killed her. “And I went for it,” she says. “I became an alcoholic, drug addict, and a sex addict. I survived and I was proud to do it. It was my journey, baby, it was my journey.”
These days she’s a well-to-do landlady in fabulous Burbank, California—“I’m really a feminist now, but I’m still a man-eater, you know?”—and she’s busy committing her epic life tale to print with an autobiography that Natividad hopes will be ready for early next year. She promises it’ll have, “Oh, maybe 10,000 photos. It’s mostly going to be pictures. I don’t want guys to get bored reading my story. I want them to read this one with one hand, baby.”
Performing, meanwhile, is still very obviously in the blood—even if it’s just on the phone.
“Are you going to be able to write all this nastiness that I’m telling you?” she asks warmly. “Do you think I sound very coarse? Because I’m okay with everything of it, you know? I’m not trying to glorify it, I’m just really letting you know how it is in my life and how it was. I’m not telling you I went to church on Sundays and stuff like that.”
The Vancouver International Burlesque Festival takes place at the Vogue Theatre (May 1 to 3).