The Case of the Terrified Tiger

She was a dame with high-voltage looks and an eroticbook contract. Her name was Tiger. No last name. Just Tiger. And she was in trouble.

I had a hunch she'd done a lot of jilting in her day, and I'd made some calls of my own to check it out.

"She could easily walk into a room and piss people off," said her friend Eliot Brown, managing editor of Penthouse Comix.

She'd show up for tony parties undressed to the hilt, turn every head in the joint. Women would whisper, men would leer.

"She was shocking, even in New York," says Alfred Morris, an investment banker and Tiger's former lover.

Morris told her to put her dirty mind to work.
She was writing health-and-fitness columns for a Manhattan alternative weekly. Morris knew she had a healthy sex drive; the question was whether it would be fit to print.

She wrote to Penthouse magazine, then wrote for Penthouse; and, with a cover blurb pronouncing her a "new voice," she became Eva Morris, the author and sex expert. The first name came from Eva Perón; the last name she borrowed from her lover.

She appeared on Montel Williams three times as an expert on chastity belts and other classy topics.

In a ballsy stroke of brilliance, she collected her stories, had type set, bound them in a binder under the title Bad Girls Bedtime Stories, and marketed them through classified ads in Prison Life magazine.

And when she grew bored with New York's lascivious literary life, she decided to become an engineer and enrolled at ASU.

She arrived as a New York luminary.
One of Tiger's ASU friends, a young man named Christian Truelove--they must have met at the Strange Name Club--warned me that she had two sides.

One was Eva Morris, the sex goddess who wanted to be worshiped, the author who claimed to do media interviews in the nude. The other was Tiger, the girl next door who dressed in tee shirts and jeans and was fun to be around. I think I'd already figured that one out.

Tiger was the one who went to college.
The ASU computers had no sense of humor and didn't accept her one-word name. They renamed her Tiger Tiger. The computer had no literary memory either; it didn't know the rest of the poem:

burning bright,
in the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
could frame thy fearful symmetry?

This Tiger got pounced on in the dark, by ASU--or maybe by Eva, the author.

All the time we talked, Tiger/Eva worried that I'd go looking for her real name and print it. She wouldn't say where she lived--only that it was near the beach, two hours from New York. She wouldn't say how she was supporting herself. She wouldn't even tell me where she was staying in Phoenix.

Tiger was as paranoid as a hamster in a cat box, and it was rubbing off on me.

"This was not the way she was before she went to Arizona," says Alfred Morris, the ex-lover.

She was not one of those people who went from scrape to scrape and from emotional disaster to financial ruin. She had a direction, even if it was at a strange angle to the norm.

"She was always happy-go-lucky," says Eliot Brown. "Something got to her. She's expressing more paranoid delusions than she ever did. This story could go either way. It's either exactly as she presents it, or it is a complete delusion.

"And that is harder to accept."
The twisted Tiger's tale began when her writerly ego was stroked by a group of five students who had writerly aspirations. Flattery hath even more charm to soothe the savage breast. She was coaching them along, she says, helping them make connections.

She wouldn't tell any of their names, and no one else knew any of them except for one young man we'll call "Donnie." Tiger was coaching Donnie on more than writing, and making more connections with him than for him. He was 19, she was 27. She must have devoured him.

In turn, Donnie was Tiger/Eva's agent on campus, her publicity machine, her disciple, her roommate.

Someone--she claims it was the students--decided to adapt her Bad Girls book for the Tempe market. I had a hunch it was the three of them: Donnie, Tiger and Eva.

It was Tiger who sold the concept to Christie Churchill at the ASU bookstore.

"She looovvved the idea that: one, students were doing this book; and two, the book was a seller," Tiger said. "She said, 'Draw up a contract, and we'll submit it to the ASU administration, and they take about ten days to okay that.'"

From there, the plot starts to tangle: Tiger claimed she had a verbal agreement with the bookstore for 4,000 books to be delivered ten books at a time. ASU later claimed they were only responsible for the first ten.

"The students" papered the campus with posters announcing the naughty book. Eva Morris, with eyebrows arched like horny caterpillars, peered over typed hype that called her ASU's "famous writer in residence." The students set up an E-mail address at the campus computer center and waited for orders to roll in.

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