TIGRINA (Edythe Eyde)

Part 1 (1941-42): I Was a Teenage Devil-Worshipper.

Tigrina (1941) - photo from cover of VOM #21. Uncropped version (inset)
from LASFS Photo Album

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). Having made costumes for her and Ackerman to wear at the 1939 Worldcon, the first ever worn at an SF con, Morojo is widely regarded as the mother of cosplay. 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':

"Dear 'Insiders',

I read a letter written by one of your members, Weaver Wright by name, in an issue of Weird Tales quite some time ago, and I was amazed and impressed when I read of the number of people who come regularly to your Thursday night get-togethers.

I have always wished to belong to such an organization as yours, as I am deeply interested in the Occult, particularly Witchcraft and Black Magic. Unfortunately, my family has always been strongly against my studying these fascinating subjects. I am attending college now, however,(sophomore at exclusive Girls' School) and I live away from home, so I have more of an opportunity to study the Occult sciences, and also to write this letter to all of you.

I have enclosed a little composition of mine, the words of which I have also made. I would like to give this to you 'Insiders', for I feel that since your main interest is in studying (and occasionally applying, perhaps!) the Black Arts, that you must have a tender spot in your hearts for the Devil. This music is written for four part singing, just as christian church hymns are. If you've ever been to church you will know that this means the usual soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Do not be alarmed at the different sounding cadence that brings this little ditty to an end. It is meant to be that way and is not a mistake, as you might think. I hope that you might sing it sometimes during one of your 'Black Masses' as you so quaintly term your meetings. Although I cannot join your group, much as I would like to, for I live too far from Los Angeles, I hope you will think of me as being with all of you in spirit at your meetings, even though I cannot physically be present."

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.

The triple horror show I saw was headed by 'The Man-made Monster' with Lon Chaney jr. in the title role. The second feature was 'Horror Island' which I enjoyed immensely, although to my way of thinking it was not the most gruesome picture I have seen. The third chiller-diller was a shorter novelty thriller which was very unique, to say the least. Each person who entered the theatre was given a cardboard fashioned in the shape of spectacles, one 'eye glass' being fitted with red cellophane, the other with green. The pictures which were flashed on the screen were rather blurred, and violet in color, but when looked at through those queer spectacles, the pictures gave a third dimensional effect resembling the impression one receives when one gazes through those old fashioned kaleidoscopes. This movie showed daggers and snakes and the like being thrown from the screen towards the audience and when viewed with those colored spectacles, this was unpleasantly realistic. No horror fan should miss this short but fascinating terror film. While it is definitely in the lighter vein, I believe that almost anyone with a flair for the fantastic would enjoy it. I believe it was titled 'Pete Smith's Horrorscope.' It did not seem to have any particular title other than that."

- VOM #16 (July '41)

Fojak was Tigrina's own particular name 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.'

If I ever get down that way I shall certainly try to drop in at the Clifton's Cafeteria and get a glimpse of the meeting place of the Weird Tales Club and perhaps also a glimpse of a few of my neighbor-weirdists! This is just a fanciful dream of mine, but if it ever materializes, I will try to write you a note and let you know all the details.

I believe you stated...that my pictures would meet more with your approval if the characters sketched were not wearing quite so much clothing. Well, forgive me for saying this, but I disagree most heartily with your opinion. I do not wish to hurt your feelings, but the scantily clad damsels which so often appear in your fan magazines, although nicely drawn, do not seem, to me, to fit in with the type of magazines they are supposed to be. I think that figures clad in weird futuristic costumes or mystic robes and veils would be much more appropriate. Or even exotic oriental costumes. These costumes would, I am sure, look much more weird and futuristic than the pulchritudinous lovelies wearing smiles but nothing much else, who look as if they got misplaced and put in your fan magazines instead of 'Esquire,' where they would look lovely indeed, I am sure. Now, this is just a suggestion, why don't you get one of your talented artists to draw a picture of a torture scene in a chamber of horrors, or some subject akin to that? Please do not think that I am trying to tell you how to run your own magazine. You know more about magazines than I ever will. These pictures are the only fault that I find in an otherwise very interesting and entertaining magazine.

If...you should ever see a girl about five feet and one and a half inches tall, with blue eyes and brown hair, and who wears a white skull in over her heart, walking into a horror show, that will be me.

Here is a question I have been wanting to ask you for a long time. How many members are there in the Los Angeles Fantasy Society? ((Nearly 30 now.)) Also, I noticed that in the picture that Fojak gave me of Morojo and him in Chicago (or was it New York?) ((Chicago)) at the Fantasy Convention, there was another girl in that picture. Who is she? ((Pogo)) She certainly is attractive. I would like to meet both Morojo and her some time, but I doubt if I will over have an opportunity.

A College of Demonology? It has always been my secret ambition to attend such a college. I have always considered it unfortunate that Demonology has never been included in the various subjects offered for study at **** College. But then, it is never included in the lists of any college, and if I were to suggest such a thing, I am afraid that the authorities at **** would have me in a straight-jacket quicker than you could say 'Cagliostro.'"

- VOM #17 (Aug/Sept '41)

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?

Have you all decided when the convention will take place? ((Not yet, honey chile; watch Pacificonews for announcement.)) How I wish I could be down there then, or any time, for that matter! - I was happy to hear that Fojak had not been drafted. I was afraid for awhile that he was going to join one too many clubs."

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 cace 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 ar 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."

"So! That is where you have been all this time!" cartoon by Tigrina

Cartoon ran along the bottom of two pages.

Tigrina drew the cover for the following issue 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.)

"Come back here, silly! You cannot get cream from the Milky Way!!" cover by Tigrina

"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.

I am interested in Devil worship and Black Magic purely for revenge, power, love of mystery and just 'pure devilishness', but no further than that. I know also that my interest in the Black Arts is, to a certain extent, a rebellion from the exceedingly 'straight and narrow' path that I have sometimes been forced to tread.

I was glad to see that there were not so many of those horrid ((dressless)) pictures this time. I feel that I must, however, express my extreme disapproval of the damnsel in this edition of your magazine. My, she is not even pretty! If all women appeared thusly, I think that they should be exterminated. Ugh, she is posilutely repulsive! And the title of the picture makes it doubly so. ((Doublentendre created by my underlining. --Foojack)) I can readily see how one might call the small picture on the cover of your magazine 'art', that is, if you like that sort of thing. (Said 'art' does not include the monster, creature, or oversized balloon that she holds in her hands) ((referring to Bradbury)) But how can you even for an instant think that there is anything artistic or beautiful, or fantastic about that horrificaricature on page seven?"

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!

Well, at least we agree somewhat on the nude question. Unless, of course, she doesn't like clean nude art, either. (As I said before, I do)

((Yecoeds would appreciate a clarification as to what constitutes a "cleanude" to your mind.))

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.

In my work I've had occasion to run up against this sort of thing occasionally, and I'm wondering, therefore, to what books and credos Tigrina has had reference. It seems to me probable that she may have mistaken the sensational, hokumy, fictional devil-worship for the genuine article. I can't say, of course, but her letter seems to lead to that conclusion, especially in its remark about weakening the will through dissipation, and her statement about the needlessness of going to extremes. Indeed, 'going to extremes' is a basic tenet of true Satanism, though it certainly does not involve such absurd matters as smoking and drinking, which are physiological matters and not psychic. Since Satanism involves sharpening the senses, grasping and understanding broader vistas, and a slow but complete re-orientation of the id, you can well imagine the difficulties in the path of a student. Satanism is not a religion, except to the feudal peasant and the uneducated masses of past days who required symbols. The conventional pulp fictional handling of Satanism is obviously untrue and much distorted.

The philosophy requires very many years of specialized training for any 'sort of understanding of its practical application. Tigrina speaks of the powers of performing spells, reciting incantations, etc., and that in order to do that one requires a strong will. I fear I must differ with her. One does, however, require determination and ability to work hard in order to devote one's self to Satanism in toto. There are many dilettantes, but one cannot call these Satanists - they are either unstable emotionally or mentally, require psychological compensation, or are looking for the sensational side of the matter. In view of Tigrina's letter, I judge that she is sincere, but I also judge that she has not been able to get in touch with any Satanist blocs. That's fairly obvious, for she speaks of Devil worship and black magic in the same sentence, though Satanism completely disavows so-called black magic, calling it, indeed, a fake. Again, this business of performing spells. It is in a class with om mani padme hum, simply an auxiliary means of focusing and sharpening the mind. Tigrina must not expect that Satanism will enable her to perform spells. There are no miracles involved. I cannot repeat too often that Satanism is a philosophy pure and simple, to be classed with any of the other great philosophies. It is certainly not the degenerate, criminal cultus of such men as Alastair Crowley, nor is it a group of magicians, either black or white.

I have not followed the critics Tigrina mentions, but I assume that they, too, misunderstand the basic nature of Satanism. I'm sure they would not cavil should they realize that Devil-worship is, in its purest form, not harmful, gives no powers of magic, and actually improves mind and body through a series of vigorous mental and physical exercise. It is a health-cult of sorts, coupled with a fundamental psychological readjustment which goes on over a period of years. The same end is reached by certain other methods which are looked on with more favor by the public, but these have not the complete mysticism of Satanism, though this is coupled with a soundly sane material attitude toward material things.

I merely mention all this because I do feel that Tigrina is sincere, and also that she has rather got off on the wrong foot, so to speak. Also I'm a little dubious about her expressed motives - revenge and power and so on. I have no personal criticism to make, but I feel it advisable to say that if those are Tigrina's chief and only motives, she should consider carefully before investigating the real Satanism. Such motives as she expresses are, as of course she knows, compensatory for psychological difficulties, which are encountered by most people who, at an early age, are sufficiently 'different' to become interested in fantasy and science-fiction. You know that, Forry, and so do I; we all do. And it is natural enough. Moreover, over a period of years, readjustment takes place, and the psychological handicaps are overcome, though I'm glad to say that in most cases the liking for fantasy remains.

But in view of Tigrina's letter, I thought it advisable to write her through Madge, in view of the always possible danger of an amateur student being victimized by fake cults. And, too, I was slightly annoyed, as I always am, by the confusion of Satanism with black magic, spells, and such silly legerdemain. Still I realize that Tigrina erred through ignorance rather than intent - so I have taken time from a rather arduous program of writing to tip her off to the real dope. Hope it'll be of some assistance to her should she continue her professed plan of embracing Satanism."

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!"

"Could I interest you in our de luxe, leather bound edition of the bible?" cartoon by Tigrina

Thus ended the first phase of her involvement with fandom. Next: the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.

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