Tila Tequila sounds awful. On most days she speaks in a smoke-tinged little-girl lilt, but this afternoon the singer-model-designer-Internet lust kitten talks like she just gargled with gravel and razor blades. "I have laryngitis," the 24-year-old croaks. "My doctor told me I shouldn't talk so much, but how the fuck am I supposed to not talk during interviews and meetings?" Spoken like a true hustler.

The Vietnam-rooted, Singapore-born, Houston-raised L.A. girl is best known as the most popular person on myspace.com, with 1.1 million close personal friends and counting. But that's nothing more than virtual success - in every way. Tila wants more. And people in power are willing to oblige. Will.I.Am recently announced on MTV that he had signed her, but Tila says he was a bit premature; she's still a free agent, punishing her singing voice and taking meetings to ensure she gets a premium deal. With a built-in audience the size of a small country, labels will have to raise the pot for this pint-sized powerhouse.

You grew up in a Buddhist gated community. Did the strict rules when you were a kid make you wild as an adult?

I was born wild, but the rules definitely did not help. There was a backlash of wanting to be out there and seeing the world and not being able to understand what was beyond the gates of the community I was living in.

Models and actresses always claim they were unpopular and ugly in school. is that some kind of canned answer for the beautiful people?

No, I've always been popular and hot! People like me because of my personality - thought it also doesn't hurt that I'm cute, too. But I'm crazy, and when they see how uninhibited I am, everyone becomes less concerned with what other people think.

Continue reading this story in the September 2006 issue of KING (#34).