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Cougars Inc.: The Lady Predator Lifestyle

Karryn Russo goes by "Jerzee" and refuses to divulge her age. She also has a very dark, unhealthy-looking tan. On Apr. 29, Jerzee—who appears to be in her mid-40s and, not surprisingly, hails from New Jersey—was at the Manhattan nightclub Greenhouse in an extremely short tie-dyed skirt adorned with peace symbols. When younger men stopped to talk, Jerzee started to dance. "She's a cougar," crooned the rapper on stage, "I think I love her, I put no one above her."

Jerzee was one of more than 30 contestants vying for the title of Miss Cougar America, the marquee event of the third annual National Cougar Convention. And she appeared to be the odds-on favorite until the pageant's emcee, Rich Gosse—donning a black shirt, a yellow and orange paisley tie, and a thick, unmanicured mustache—announced the shocking news: The crown had gone to Aalsa Lee of Palm Springs, Calif. "We was robbed!" yelled a crestfallen Jerzee supporter who paid the $20 admission fee. Lee, who does not make a secret of her age, is 73.