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Atisone Seiuli aka Shalimar (born Saoaumaga Atisone Kenneth Seiuli July 6, 1976 - April 22, 1998) was a transsexual involved in a widely publicized Hollywood scandal when she was arrested in the car of comedian Eddie Murphy in 1997.
Atisone Seiuli was born into a devout Mormon family in the village of Mesepa, American Samoa. Although biologically male, she reportedly identified with femininity at a young age. As a teenager, Seiuli adopted the drag name Shalimar after the imported French fragrance. She was the cheerleading captain at Leone High School when she was crowned Miss American Samoa Island Queen in 1993. By 1996, Atisone had moved to Los Angeles, California. There she began her transgender transition and started female hormone therapy. She eventually became involved in street prostitution on Santa Monica Boulevard, a street notorious for transsexual sex workers.
Eddie Murphy scandal
At approximately 4:55 a.m. on May 2, 1997, Los Angeles police officers followed and pulled over a Toyota Land Cruiser after witnessing Seiuli enter the vehicle. It was then discovered that the driver was comic actor Eddie Murphy. After interrogating Murphy for about 30 minutes, he was released without charges when the investigation revealed that no illegal activity had occurred. However, due to violating an earlier prostitution conviction ruling, Seiuli was arrested.
By sunrise, the incident had become a publicized dispute that headlined the front covers of tabloid magazines and entertainment shows. Seiuli's bail was set at $15, 000 and was paid by the tabloid The National Enquirer in exchange for exclusive details about her encounter with the comedian.
Increased coverage and controversy ensued when a magazine photographer produced a tape of the incident, and it aired nationally on Hard Copy TV. Talk show host Jay Leno and peers of Eddie Murphy from the TV show Saturday Night Live both featured comical reenactments of the conflict. Numerous transsexuals appeared in tabloids and on talk shows to provide accounts of alleged sexual encounters with Murphy. However, they later recanted their accounts.
The tabloid coverage enraged Murphy and he filed $5 million lawsuits against The National Enquirer and The Globe for slander and invasion of privacy. These suits were later dropped after an unspecified settlement. He also filed suit against Ioane Seiuli, who claimed to be a relative of Atisone Seiuli and gave false reports to the New York Times.
Transsexual author Candace Watkins published an obscure book titled "In the Closet with Eddie Murphy" that featured stories from Seiuli and other transsexuals who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Murphy.
Career after the scandal
Seiuli's celebrity status lead to several professional gigs; after appearing in a pornography film, she discontinued her street prostitution work and became the "House Madame" at the illustrious Los Angeles nightclub 7969 where she performed erotic routines as a dominatrix with live snakes. Hollywood personalities such as actress Demi Moore and actor Charlie Sheen reportedly attended her shows.
According to some of her friends and family, Seiuli received death threats during this time period from Eddie Murphy fans who believed that she was tarnishing Murphy’s reputation for her own personal gain. This reportedly had a significant negative emotional impact on Seiuli, who began traveling in isolation and under various pseudonyms as a result.
On the morning of April 22, 1998, a woman walking her dog found Seiuli's body, clad only in lingerie, on a sidewalk outside Seiuli's Los Angeles apartment building. Popular rumors circulated that her death was a conspiracy orchestrated by Eddie Murphy, who hired an assassin to kill her as a cover-up. However, no evidence has surfaced to support this claim. A final autopsy report concluded that she died from severe head trauma and multiple fractures suffered during an accidental fall. The coroner's report stated that she died after being locked out of her fifth floor apartment; she tried to swing from the apartment’s roof to an ". Grisly details about her death, such as fingernail marks on the outside of the building and a facial imprint left on the sidewalk, were reported as well.
In 2003, her brief encounter with infamy was ranked #67 on E! TV’s compilation of The Greatest Shocking Moments in Entertainment History.