Dear Constant Reader,
I hate writing these missives. The death of every Legend is a tragedy. We lose so much of our history with them. But this one cuts very deep.
Photo by John Bilotti at The Great Burlesque Expo.
I saw her for the first time at Miss Exotic World in Las Vegas in 2006. In a voice I never heard before from him, tinged with awe and delight, Scratch said, almost reverently, “That’s Kitten Natividad!” I replied “Who?”
I learned who she was — Russ Meyer’s muse, burlesque Legend, Miss Nude Universe, porn star. And eventually our friend.
I’m usually more than a little intimidated by Legends, but she was so open and friendly that all my apprehensions just melted away. We got along very well, which surprised me sometimes. She was so exuberant and unapologetic, where I am reserved and demure. One year for my birthday she gave me fishnet bodystockings, saying how good I’d look. It took me a little while to get used to the idea, but she was right.
Photo by Altar Boy Photography
Whenever Scratch and I went to Los Angeles we would visit her and take her out (and she would take my leftovers home). The last trip was the best. She insisted we stay in her guest suite and Scratch made her breakfast every morning. We would sit in her courtyard and watch her crazy kittens race around. The night we left, we took her to dinner at Musso & Frank, our favorite L.A. restaurant and hers too. I think this is the only picture I have of us together.
Photo by a waiter at Musso and Frank
Then the pandemic came. We would call her from time to time and check in. We always talked about visiting as soon as we could. She would say “And you’ll stay with meeee!” We would assure her we would and Scratch would cook for her. And then we would tell her we loved her. That’s not something I say casually.
She told such wonderful stories about her time in burlesque, in porn, with Russ, but she was just as interested and enthusiastic about we were doing. When Scratch opened the American Burlesque Collection, she was so supportive. One of the exhibits was dedicated to Latina burlesque performers and a big part was devoted to her. I know Scratch did a little video tour for her, but I wish she could have seen it in person.
The last time we were in touch, she told us the cancer had come back. I said I would drop everything and come see her. She said “I’m not going anywhere” so we talked about going out for Scratch’s birthday in November or mine in February.
I wish I had known how sick she really was. Even if she couldn’t have had visitors, I wish we’d called her one more time.
I’m devastated. I can’t believe I’ll never see her again, never hear her wonderful laugh or feel her infectious delight for everything. I hope she knew how much I love her.
The thing I loved most about Kitten was the unbridled joy she took in life. She regretted nothing that she had done. I cannot think of a better tribute to her than to live life on those terms.