About Kitten Natividad
Kitten Natividad: Telling It Like It Is
The Body of Work: Longevity in Burlesque
I was born Francesca Natividad on February 13, 1948, in Juarez, Mexico just across the Rio Grande from El Paso. I am the oldest of nine siblings, though only my sister Eva Garcia and I share the same parents.
Yes Natividad is my real last name. I’m a Latin gal! Mom gave birth to me when she was just 16, at home, with my grandmother as midwife. The summer before my high school senior year, I worked for Stella Stevens at her Coldwater Canyon home, scrubbing and cleaning, and learning how to cook. At her big parties, my duties expanded to greeting guests at the door, including Warren Beatty and Linda Evans, wearing a white uniform. I remember watching the guests mingle by the pool, noting their elegance and glamour, and thought to myself, “This is fun. I want to be a movie star.”
During that senior year, I fell in love for the first time. My family always insisted on chaperones, so it was difficult for my boyfriend and I to get intimate. It wasn’t until he spent the night at my home, though in a different room, that we made love for the first time. He slipped in through the window and into my bed. God, it was fabulous! Soon after we eloped but our marriage didn't last long.
I went back to work for Stella for about a year before enrolling in a trade school course, ultimately landing a
job at IBM as a key punch operator. Making very little money and looking for other options, I discovered that a neighbor’s sister earned $300 a week as a stripper - twice as much as I made. I took off my clothes, looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Well, I have a great body.”
It was 1969 and soon after an introduction to the owner of a Pasadena-based club called Gianone’s, I made my dancing debut. Very nervous, I concentrated on my dancing while oblivious to everything going on around me. When I finished, the crowd clapped and howled, while throwing money on the stage. The roar would grow so load, it could be heard two blocks away! And I liked it! Before long I was working a couple of clubs a night, making $600-700 a week including
tips. The money was great but boy were the hours long. To promote my new career, I signed up with an agency. They advised me to adopt a stage name. Shyer than the other girls, I was given the name Kitten.
My big breakthrough came in 1973 when I was age 25. I was working at a club in Pasadena called the High Light where I met Morganna (the Kissing Bandit) and her agent Sparky Blain. Sparky thought that I had a great body and asked me to enter the Miss Nude Universe pageant, held in San Bernardino, California. I wasn't sure I had the confidence to compete with the other forty-five or so contestants, most of whom were several years younger, but Sparky did. It was because of his unwavering faith I was able to walk out onstage and feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. But even with my newfound confidence, I still felt it necessary to lie about my age when I learned that the judges preferred younger women. In the end, I strutted away with the title Miss Nude Universe. I went crazy!
My next career decision was a permanent switch from go-go dancing to stripping. Sparky had me doing all sorts of publicity stunts: special appearances at clubs, college campus fraternities, other beauty contests; bikini walks in central business districts; and nude press conferences all across the country from New York to Los Angeles - all centered around club performances. Though the reigning Miss Nude Universe, performing alone as a headline stripper was very new to me. Again unsure of myself, I picked up nuances from the other dancers, making them my own. During each performance I made sure to give individual attention and to put out a lot of energy. When a customer laid down a dollar bill, I went to him and gyrated as much as I could. It was hard work but this was my schooling to become a good stripper. By the mid 70s I was on top of the stripping scene but my next step was at hand. I had a girlfriend named Shari Eubanks, a star in one of Russ Meyer’s greatest hits, Supervixens. Sherry and I worked at the Classic Cat on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and she told Russ that because of my big tits, I would be a great Russ Meyer girl. As it happened, he was looking for a girl to narrate his new film “Up!.”
When we met at the club, I found him quite attractive and turned on the charm full tilt, landing me the part. Though Russ Meyer films are typically tangled in story, Up! was perhaps his weirdest film. I’ll skip over the plot which had something to do with Hitler’s daughter and sadomasochism. The film starts with me perched in a tree, nude. A dubbed voice announces me as the film’s guide, the incarnation of the body, cutting back to me every ten minutes, often with close-ups on my breasts and other parts of my anatomy, so I could explain what was going on. Russ was very tough on me, and after the endless takes, I was exhausted, and sometimes in tears. But when I realized that his perfectionism brought out qualities I didn't know I had, I learned to trust his direction. Released in October
1976, Up! was not as successful as Supervixens. Six months into filming, I left George and moved in with Russ, embarking on an affair that lasted 12 years.
Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens was Russ Meyer’s next film. He initially planned to use the blonde stripper Ann Marie, a real life Little Annie Fanny - whose humongous 67 bust line made her a top Meyer Girl candidate. But after I tested for the lead role of sultry Lola Langusta, I was chosen for my acting, work ethic and willingness to remain nude. Together with his friend and collaborator Roger Ebert, they reworked the script so I could play both Lola, and the character named Lavonia.
Though Russ had already decided to cast me, I had to lose my heavy accent before shooting began (this was not a slant on my heritage, only a means for the audience to better understand my words). Dialect coach Robert Easton was hired and taught me to speak with a Southern drawl. The process could be very frustrating, and tiring (we often worked in eight-hour stretches), but it all paid off.
Ultravixens had all the makings for a hit, but met with poor distribution. That may have been a blessing in disguise, for Russ discovered he could make more money in video sales than ticket sales. While the film shifted from film to video, my modeling career took off. At clubs, I modeled between dance sets for eager photographers, picking up quick, easy money. The pictures were soon published and by 1977 there was an outpouring of Kitten Natividad pictorials. I couldn’t believe I was on the cover of so many magazines! There were other photo spreads too; steamy girl/girl shoots with associates from strip clubs and Russ’ films. I did sessions with Candy Samples, Uschi
Digard, Patty Plenty and many others. Because of the increased exposure, I was able to command more money, sometimes earning over $1,000 a week while other girls made just $50 a night.
By the end of the 70's, my level of stardom on the strip circuit demanded more elaborate and lavish shows.
I came up with the gimmick of a giant champagne glass where I bathed on stage to the tune of the Bobby Darin hit “Splish Splash”. I had a lot of fun, jiggling and caressing my tits. At the end of the performance, I sometimes let a couple lucky members from the audience dry me off with a towel!
Since my break-up with Russ, I’ve made brief appearances in many films and rock video’s while featuring in adult movies. I was also the stripper at Sean Penn’s bachelor party in September 1985, at the Roxy Nightclub on Sunset Strip. Harry Dean Stanton arrived late that night, missing my performance. Penn led him to me, picked up my blouse and said, “See what you missed?” shoving Stanton’s face into my cleavage.
These days, I’m not traveling or making many appearances, devoting much of my time to my fan club, pursuing a film career, and trying to stay healthy & young at heart!