Some say he was eccentric, others say he was crazy, but the man who earned a Guinness World Record for extreme body modifications to look like a tiger has died.
Dennis Avner, a US Navy veteran better known by his Native American name Stalking Cat, was 54.
The man with overgrown fingernails, fangs and a striped skin tone was found dead in his home in Tonopah, Nevada.
He had tried to transform himself not just into a tiger, but a female tiger at that, blurring and exploring the gender line as much as the species line.
Avner’s operations, mainly by artist and body modification pioneer Steve Haworth, included bifurcation (splitting) of his upper lip, surgical pointing of the ears, silicone cheek and forehead implants, tooth filing, tattoos, and facial piercing.
In addition to being almost completely covered in tattoos, he’d also sculpted his face and body with extensive silicone work, had custom teeth built to emulate his inner nature, and regularly wore contact lenses and an artificial robotic tail.
“Dennis’s boundary-breaking life was never an easy one, and as he was fond of saying, he ‘found fame, but never fortune’.”
It’s been reported in the past that Avner…who descended from American Indians…”felt his spirit, called to the wild and made it his goal to modify his body in honor of the tiger,” his totem animal.
“I’m Huron and Lakota,” he said in 2005.
“I’m just taking a very old tradition, that to my knowledge is not practiced anymore.”
”I am Huron and following a very old tradition have transformed myself into a tiger,” he said on his now-defunct website.
His cause of death has not yet been revealed, yet speculation is rife that Avner killed himself.
Avner worked as a computer programmer and often appeared at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! events around the world.
by Robbo Green