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Elvira: Mistress of the Dark – An interview with Cassandra Peterson
It’s been over 30 years since Cassandra Peterson first put on the shock horror punk make-up, gothic clothing and long black wig to become the legendary Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. Her army of fans span the globe, and generations of single teenage boys have grown up admiring her ample talents.
Despite this, the lady behind the razor sharp wit, double entendres and heaving cleavage is still relatively unknown. Nick Williams attempts to take down her particulars.
Did you always want to be in show business – even when you were a kid? From as early as I can remember, I wanted to be a dancer originally and ended up being the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas history as far as I know, at least that’s what it says in the Guinness Book of World Records. Then I went from dancing to singing, I wanted to be a performer, the centre of attention really.
It all boils down to “look at me, look at me”, I remember my parents would take me to a restaurant, and even at 3 years old I would get up on tables and dance and people would throw change at me, which I still love today. If you ever see me in real life, you have to throw change at me.
How do you think separating your life between Cassandra and Elvira has affected you the most? How close is Elvira to your own personality?
You’re making me schizophrenic, It’s funny, I think it’s completely different, but I have too many friends who think it’s not that different (laughs). I feel like two completely different people; I sort of decided, well I’ve kind of figured this out in the last few years, that Elvira is me when I was a teenager – very smart ass, know it all, not afraid to do anything, kind of crazy. I think that my teenage personality came out as Elvira.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
Actually there is some really cool stuff coming out. One I’m not allowed to talk about, but there is one I can talk about – that is “Elvira’s Horror Hunt,”. It’s my new kind of horror contest, film festival, and webisode/movie review show. This one will be with my girlfriend Peaches Christ – a kind of celebrity in L.A. – she has a live show called ‘Midnight Mass’, and also directed a movie ‘All About Evil’ which I was in.
We are asking amateur directors to submit their films, and we’ll review them and have a panel of industry professionals, anyone from George Romero to Rob Zombie to choose the top three. And the event will be hosted by Elvira and Peaches.
While I’m in England for the MCM Expo (which I am really excited about) I also have a meeting about possibly doing a follow up movie to ‘Mistress of the Dark’, so we’ll see how that goes.
I know you go to a lot of Comic Book conventions, how do you feel about the current state of the industry? Do you think you will continue to pursue work in comics?
Well Comic book wise, I’ve done a DC comic book, a Marvel, and the past few years I’ve done a few Claypool comic books. And I’ve spoken with several comic book people about doing one that could turn into a movie.
I’m good friends with Stan Lee who has done SpiderMan etc, and I thought if there was ever a good day to get a movie made it’s with a comic book, but he said “don’t waste your time on comic books.” the Internet has more or less killed comic books.
I still love them, they’re still out there, but I don’t know if it’s a great way to develop a character, he doesn’t feel that that’s the right path anymore. I mean, comic book sales are only a tiny fraction of what they used to be. They’ve become more of a collectable, it’s not really like it used to be.
Do you receive a lot of creepy fan requests?
Just recently actually I was in Ottawa, Canada and a guy came up and said his father always loved me and I was his favourite celebrity, and his father had passed away, but he had always wanted to see me. So the guy brought his father’s ashes in a box- and I signed the box. Better late than never.
But that was kind of cool. I had a girl who would nail her tongue to a board and wanted to show me, so she did it in front of me. And in the beginning, I had a zillion people tattooing Elvira to their body parts. Now it’s pretty commonplace. From five to twenty people have my signature on them, or have me sign my signature on their already done Elvira tattoo.
The weirdest one was this girl who asked for me to sign her tattoo –and she pulled her pants down and there’s my face on her ass – and it was as white as a door. Oh my god, here I am standing over her writing my name on this girl’s ass so that was a pretty weird interaction, don’t you think?
Do you have an all time favourite horror movie?
My taste runs towards the really old, cheesy, I love ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space.’ As far as cheese goes, you can’t beat it. Real horror movies – I just saw ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ and I don’t know. The last one that really blew my socks off was ‘The Exorcist’ and that was a long time ago. It’s still fricken scary.
What has been the best thing over the years about being Elvira?
If you ask any of my celebrity friends, they would vouch for me. I am able to be a really crazy wacky character and celebrity for all of these years, but then I have a completely anonymous private life on the side. I don’t think there is a celebrity out there who wouldn’t cut off their right arm for that.
People tell you they really want to be famous and recognised, but after a month it gets really old.
I mean, I love being Elvira – but when I want it to stop, it stops. If you’re Brad Pitt, and you want it to stop, you can’t.
Main pic by Kevin Scanlon
Cassandra pic by Gage Skidmore
Read the full interview with Cassandra in the latest edition of Flush Magazine out on June 1st. Download the free iPad App now HERE