TIGRINA (Edythe Eyde)Part 1 (1941-42): I Was a Teenage Devil-Worshipper.
When someone who started out in fandom later achieves some fame in a non-SF capacity that earlier association is often omitted from their story. Sometimes this is their choice, sometimes not. Most often this comes about either through lack of knowledge by those writing about them or because of a misguided desire to distance their subject from such disreputable beginnings. As someone always ready to give the benefit of the doubt and assume lack of knowledge to be the case, it occurs to me that putting such material online where I have the ability to do could be a useful thing to do. This is the first such profile.
Most of this material is taken from the pages of the fanzine 'Voice of the Imagi-Nation' aka VOM (1939-47), edited by Forrest J Ackerman (b.1916) and Morojo (Myrtle R. Douglas, b.1904). During this period Ackerman made extensive use of 'Ackermanese' which involved simplified spelling and lots of contractions. I have reverted to standard English when transcribing the text but have retained his often corny puns and most of his portmanteau words.
Our story begins in the lettercolumn of VOM #15 (June '41) where Harry Warner Jr wrote about some recent publications he had received:
"Two issues of VOM, one of 'Wave-Length', and 'Hymn to Satan' to hand. The last-named is the first thing of its sort I've seen, and I have two objections. First, it should have been transposed down to F flat or D or thereabouts, because it would take someone with a voice like Bradbury's to hit that top A in the third-from-last measure. Second, it should bear the same relation to a real hymn as a Black Mass bears to the Catholic rites, and it doesn't. Maybe I'll try my luck at something similar some of these days. On the whole, though, its very nicely done, and I'm extremely curious as to the composer. I know of no fan skilled enough in harmony to have done it except, ahem, me: that is, the grammar is good, in the notation, which is the real test of whether a professional musician or a dabbler did it. Too, it was very nicely mimeoed - I presume it was mimeoed, at least, although it looks almost like lithoing."
Apparently it was lithoed. As to who was responsible for it, that question was answered in VOM the following month when the editors reprinted the letter which had accompanied 'Hymn to Satan':
This was enough for them to send a copy of VOM in return, which resulted in a letter of comment. It was signed "Mysteriously Yours, Tigrina":
I received it (VOM #15) this morning just before I left for San Francisco to enjoy a triple horror show. I read the various opinions and letters of the fans on the bus on the way over and found most of them so amusing and interesting that it seemed no time at all until I arrived in San Francisco. Speaking of San Francisco, I found out a few days ago that Fojak used to live there.
Fojak was one of many nicknames for Forrest J Ackerman, who also went by 4sj, 4e and, most often, just Forry. As for Tigrina herself, she was born in November 1921 and so was still a teenager at this point. She revealed more about herself in the next issue:
"My parents, although kind and understanding in some ways, have never understood my liking for the weird and occult, Therefore, they would never understand or approve of my keeping up a correspondence with those who share my enjoyment of terrifying and gruesome things. In fact, if my secret were discovered, I would be denied the privileges I already enjoy, such as an occasional horror show, or spooky radio program. Although I am of college age and should be able to do what I please along these lines, when I am home and under the dominance of my parents, it is hard to voice any objections without having to disturb peace in the family as far as I'm concerned. Every time I buy a copy of Weird Tales, for example, I get an exclamation of horror and disgust from my mother and a frown and a shake of the head from my father and a l - o - n - g lecture on why I should not fill my so-called mind with such 'childish fancy and degrading filth.'
Correspondence between Ackerman and Tigrina eventually resulted in several meetings:
TALES OF TIGRINA #1 - (from VOM #19, Dec '41)
Further info on the mysterious miss (above) who shakes a mean spear: the figure "13" figures prominently in her life. she has 13 cats (and an injured li'l owl she found on the campus and is nursing back to health, named "banshee"). She has three addresses, all of which end in 13. Her first drawing to appear in a fmz (ECLIPSE #4) was published on pg 13. I met her on the 13th of the month. She used to be 13 yrs old. Other items: Her college curriculum consists of violin lessons, advanced course in musicianship, French, survey of the literature of music, philosophy, speech & drama, and string quartet. She is studying Esperanto. But let Tigrina speech for herself in this symposium of letters received from her in the past 6 weeks:
"I have a wonderful room this year (at College). I managed to bring what few books on magic, Witchcraft, etc, I have, with me without getting a single word of disapproval from my parents. That was because I supervised the packing myself this time. I even managed to smuggle in my ouija board and I also brought a small table (altar). The walls, of course are decorated with pictures of Bela Lugosi. I have also hung a Chinese gong outside of my room as a doorbell. And when one enters, an artificial spider, hung on an almost invisible horsehair, gives the victim a friendly (?) greeting and frightens her out of her wits, unless she likes that sort of thing, like we Fantasy Fans. Oh, yes, I also brought some black candles in case the lights go off some stormy night,' as I explained to my mother."
Tigrina was born under the sign of Scorpio. Maybe she is a zombie? She wonders, for her life-line is practically non-existent. She learned to read & spell when she was three:
"But when it came to learning to write, it was quite a different thing, I was left-handed and I used to begin at the right side of the page and end at the left, writing backwards."
She sent a petition to Shangri-LA to be circulated among the Imagi-Natives to secure signatures for the guestarring of Bela Lugosi on an "inner sanctum" program. Attending a symphony at her college, after the signed petition had been returned:
"I was amazed to see that a friend of mine, whom I had not seen for a long time, was a member of this orchestra. My friend is also deeply interested in the Occult and Science Fiction. I showed him my petition and obtained his signature. When he read over the list of names and saw Fojak's, among the other Los Angeles fans, he was much surprised. He said he used to know you and asked me if you still lived in San Francisco. It is a small world after all, isn't it?
TALES OF TIGRINA #2 - (from VOM #20, Jan '42)
Written in red and sent exactly 13 days before I met her for the second time, her letter on the fourth annish (#19) of VOM said:
"I cannot express how thrilled I am with the whole thing. The cover is marvelous. The last cover was very good, too. I hope that they will continue to be this good. I nearly passed out from laughing at the letter written by Scott Heldman. And Arthur Joquel's letter was also amusing. Is he really working on a transcription for full orchestra of my 'Himno al Satano'? This sounds rather impossible to me, as it is such a simple piece, hardly the type to be orchestrated. My 'Sabbath Summons' would be more suitable, but even then, none of my pieces are worth the trouble that it takes to orchestrate them. I thought Arthur Joquel's suggested titles for a jazz version of my 'Hymn' were sensational. It had me laughing all through my midterm examination in harmony this morning."
Fojak speaking. I've seen Tig again. Second meeting took place Nov 26. 2x13=26. Only this time, instead of ten minutes it was possible to spend ten hours with her. I found out her fan name was adopted from a character in some obscure French novel. She chose it unconscious of the Tigress connotation but only because it contained no letter in her real name. She also considered Rowena as a pseudonym. Her real name is unusual in that the same letters appear in her first as in her last. Sorta like, for example, if her name were Jeanne Valjeanne. It's an odd'un: 3 y's, 3 d's & 6 e's: She's eeeeeesy to look at, Dlightful to know, & very yyy's; in fact, she's positively snaky (subdebese for "swell"). Likes snakes. too, but allergic to spider webs. And is germ conscious.
(Tigrina's real name was Edythe DeVinney Eyde - which leaves the matter of that 't' - Rob.)
Crazy about chocolate sundaes and conundrums. I told her I never had eaten any the latter.
"Silly," she said, "you don't eat then, you play them."
Well, I guess I fell into that trap(s). A violin virtuosa, Tig also is an accomplished pianist and has composed many more pieces than is imagined. Her piano rendition of "Gloomy Sunday" is THE rendition.
She dressed in green and brown, complete to green fingernails. Fascinatingly, her second finger left hand is longer than her middle finger, the sign the Old Norse nue for the were-ylgr...the lycanthropess! Occasionly this witch lapses into a Norweigan accent or an entire Norwegian phrase, For all her frightening background, though, I thought her more like a fawn than a tigress, and told her so. And lil Tig just laughed and laughed and laughed - she thought it was very fawny! Flash! Gordon was to have been her name if she came a boy. I suggested, since she was a girl, maybe her real name was Gordenia. She said that smelled - but not like a flower! More, dope, next time.
TALES OF TIGRINA #3 - (from VOM #21, Feb '42)
(Synopsis: Last ish we learned how the author met this Vomaiden — hastening to explain VOM in this case stands for Voice of Mephistopheles — for the second time, and how drawing her out in conversation he found her the possessor of a wit as ready as a volunteer to kiss Hedy Lamarr, and sharp as the point of the Devil's pitchfork. We pitched into the Ackount at the place where we forgot before to describe the second encounter itself.)
In respect to the time element, it was same as our first meeting. T. was early! Now I had planned to be there long ahead of her, so when she came along I'd be reading and she'd be forced to speak to me first, whereat I'd reply:
"You are making history, Tigrina: whatever you say will appear in the Voice — so say something choice for posterity... and the next Vom!"
Tigrina had intended to arrive on time and from another entrance, sit down behind me at the piano and play a few bars from "Hymn to Satan" as indication she was there. As it was, she earn blithely bouncing through a door eating an ice-cream cone! I thought this a very cold reception. (My, what corn in that cornycopia.) She said she'd offer me a lick of her ice cream but she was very conscious about germs. I wondered it she meant me. Later she tempted we with an apple. - (Serpentigrina!) I bit. But if she thought I lost my soul she was mistaken for my soul was saved — permanently — a long time ago. In The Beginning, in fact. Yeah; they saved it when they made me - I mean, they never gave mr any! The Tale of Tigrina's "debut" among fans - at a special meeting of the Golden Gate Futurian Society — is to be told soon in 'Fantasy Fiction Field', so skip to: Scene. In front of 4e's Flat, last Sat in Jan, near midnight, Elmer "Slan" Perdue is about to bid adieu to Shangri-LA after a surprise visit and short stay. Re intimates to 4SJ he'd like to meet Tigrina, is driving northward tent very night. Consideration of airmail special to her discarded in favor of telegram discarded in favor of phone call.
"I'll foot the bill for three minutes," offers Elmer, if I'd be so kind as to put through a person-to-person (if either of us could be considered persons!) and make the arrangements, if possible, for a meeting.
To make a longing story short, my protege said OK and I dashed downstairs to inform the expectant Elmer his wait was over. He was the proud father of a bouncing baby slan - the longest pair of curly golden tendrils on record - and it would be possible to see "her" at two o'clock the next afternoon. Whereat the Casper Kid emitted a Wyoming warwhoop and was off like a rocket to the moon....
Tigrina's reactions to last Vom:
"Believe me, I hate to say this, but I thought that the cover was disgusting. It is well drawn, but it is just the picture itself which is repulsive to me. I enjoyed the many letters which appeared within the pages. I am so glad that Harold Warner believes that I really do exist. As for my bewitching Dr. Smith because he criticised my music, I would not do that, for I believe that everyone is entitled to his own opinion."
Cartoon ran along the bottom of two pages, featuring Witch Hazel and her cat Spoox.
Tigrina drew the cover for VOM #22 herself and made an admission of Satanism in its pages. Despite its brevity the editors considered this sufficiently sensational to attach a spirit-duplicated or hectographed strip to that cover (pasted down at both ends) announcing it. (DYKTAWO stands for "Don't You Know There's A War On", btw.)
"There is always much foul propaganda invented by different religious parties against each other, created especially for the purpose of disgusting and discouraging those interested and turning their interests elsewhere. And some people are bound to go to the extreme. Of course, I am definitely against this sort of thing. Christians (and all good will advocates) naturally attribute all of the opposite of good to the Devil. But all Devil worshippers do not go to these extremes any more than all christians deny themselves the joys of life and live exaggeratedly strict, pure lives in order to be 'good'. To be able to retain the powers of performing spells, reciting incantations, etc. one must be possessed of a strong will. In dissipation, the will is steadily weakened so that it can easily be dominated by others. So students of the occult should not indulge in harmful practices.
Not surprisingly this admission of Satanism provoked quite a bit of comment in the lettercolumn of VOM #23 (Jun '42). First, here's Art Widner:
"Tigrina is a silly girl. She would no more go through with all the disgusting orgies of a real Black Mass than I would. Her pose as a Servant of Satan is just that and nothing more. It appeals to her schoolgirlish sense of the dramatic. No doubt, mental rebellion from puritanical parents is back of it."
And here's Len Moffatt:
"Tigrina's cover was OK - but gag-line not as funny as her cartoon in last ish. Her letter was interesting. She says she is "interested in Devil worship and Black Magic purely for revenge, power, love of mystery and just pure devilishness' but NO FURTHER THAN THAT. Well how much FURTHER THAN THAT can she go?? I like a mystery myself, being a mystery fan (also), but revenge - power (evil power, of course D EVIL power) - ULGH! Her excuse is that she's rebelling against the straight and narrow path she's always been forced to lead (by her over-religious parents, I presume). Well, I don't believe in forcing people to live religious lives, either. But she didn't have to rebel that much!
A much more considered response came in an 'OPEN LETTER RE TIGRINA, FROM HENRY KUTTNER':
"It is apparent that Tigrina is interested in demonolatry, though I cannot feel that her expressed motives are in accord with the tenets of Satanism, which today is a somewhat theosophical and cabalistical philosophy stemming partly from the Chaldees and partly from the sects of Asia Minor. Feudal devil-worship was of course a degraded cult chiefly serving to purpose of freeing, the peasant libido from the social oppression of the day. It was not Satanism, though it is often mistaken for such.
Forry: Before fandom becomes "too wrapped up in its various theories of What Makes Tigrina Tick, the broomstick girl wishes
"to disillusion of some of the opinions concerning me. Some have evidently been under the impression that I believe implicitly in the existence of ghosts, vampires, etc. Let me say once and for all I am definitely not a spiritualist and I am not superstitious. I try to keep an open mind and try never to scoff at anyone's beliefs and theories, yet I do not accept everything I read about the Occult as true facts. It is true that occasionally I dabble in the Black Arts (what person does not who is interested in that sort of thing?) but only as an experiment or as a harmless (?) manner to give vent to my injured feelings. And I so not limit myself to experimenting with evil spells against those whom I dislike! But if there are truly such opposite beings as god and Satan, if such opposite beings do exist, I think that you know which deity that I would accept as Master!"
Thus ended the first phase of her involvement with fandom. Next: the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.