That Time I Talked to Elvira – September 17, 2017

Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been posting hot content far less these last two years than in years prior and, no, I don’t work for Marvel again, but I do work for ComicBook.com, which has allowed me many awesome opportunities for interviews. Sometimes these interviews result in hot scoops, other times there are fewer scoops and more of me looking like a dummy while the person I’m interviewing merely tolerates me. Regardless, I still have moments where I remember, “Oh crap, I got to talk to THAT person?! That’s so cool!” and then I dig through my files of porn regular files and relive the excitement. Just in case any of you wanted to know what those conversations were like, I’m going to be posting some of them here for your enjoyment. They might not be full of scoops, but maybe you’ll appreciate how far lowly old me has come after starting this blog nearly nine years ago.

Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

What’s cool about the internet is you can just email virtually anyone out of the blue, make yourself seem professional, and end up with an interview. In the case of Elvira, Wolfgirl and I were on a six-hour drive and I was bored and thought, “Hmm, I wonder if it will be hard to find Elvira’s publicist’s info and try to get an interview.” Days later, I had convinced them I was professional enough that Elvira, THE Elvira, should talk to me about…whatever I wanted, I guess. Luckily, this was right before Halloween and her final appearance as the host of Knott’s Scary Farm, so the timing worked out, and I got to talk to Elvira. Yeah, THE Elvira. Enjoy!

WolfMan: This year marks your final year hosting the festivities at Knott’s Scary Farm. What brought that decision on? What made you decide, “You know what? I’m gonna go out on top.” Do you already have other projects lined up?

Cassandra Peterson: A little of both. I do have two other projects lined up that I do want to focus more attention on and it would cause me not to have as much time around Halloween to put a show like this together, which takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. That is one aspect. The other one is, I do want to go out on top. I want to go out on looking good and it’s an awesome show. I don’t want to be out there next year in a walker or something. Like, it’ll be, “Oh poor Elvira, she should have really retired a few years ago.” I want to be like Mohammed Ali. You want to go out while the going’s good, and to do something different, also diversify.

I’ve done so many Halloweens at Knott’s, which is the obvious place to because it is the oldest and largest Halloween venue in the country, so it’s where to be. But on the other hand, I’m always focused here in Southern California and it would be nice to do something in other parts of the country so that people actually know I’m around at Halloween.

WM: Yeah, you could probably get a resident gig at Transylvania or something, I’m sure.

CP: There you go, perfect.

WolfMan: I’m sure they’d be happy to have you. You said you do have some projects lined up, are any of these projects things that you can tease, or share a little bit of information on?

CP: Well let’s see. One is my autobiography, which I’ve been working on so long it’s getting ridiculous. I have to finish that sucker up. I just keep talking about it and never really doing it, and I really want to get that going. I mean now is the right time for that to come out, within the next year. That requires a chunk of time to sit down and quit doing all of the other gigs that I do throughout the year and really focus on writing that. Second thing involves TV but that is all I can say and I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but it does involve a TV project and I’m just crossing my fingers that it’s gonna come through. If it does, it will be freaking awesome.

WM: You originally drew inspiration from Vampira and, though there will never be another Elvira, could you see yourself inspiring a new horror host to follow in your footsteps? Would you ever hand off your “Mistress of the Dark” moniker to anyone else?

CP: Well I would. It’s funny you mentioned that because I thought, “What an awesome idea. I will just pass the baton onto another girl whose Elvira and who’s younger and can keep doing it and travel around and go to appearances and do all this and that.” We, in fact, did a show called The Search for the Next Elvira where we auditioned over 2,000 people, got down to the final 10 and then we picked somebody, and we thought, “Well this is awesome, we can have this girl go out and do Elvira gigs and all that.” Well, unfortunately, what happened is people wanted the real thing. We couldn’t sell her to anyone. I think we got her to do one really sad-ass parade in Nebraska somewhere and it was sad, ’cause she’s great. She was adorable. She did a good job. They just wanted the real thing. I should be flattered, I was flattered, but I was also like, “Oh, geeze. Now I got to do it forever until I’m 99 years old I guess.” I tried that, I don’t know that’s gonna ever work out.

I have this little fantasy about doing a Broadway play of Mistress of the Dark and I think, in that case, I would definitely have someone else do it ’cause I don’t want that kind of schedule where you work 365 days a year and two shows on Sunday and a matinee. I can’t deal with that.

In that case I would definitely look for someone else to play it and see if that worked. But it’s a funny thing. It’s a character but, I don’t know, think about somebody else playing Pee-wee Herman. I don’t know that you’d really want to see that. It would be really kind of…ew, weird.

WM: In the decade since your debut, no one has come close to capturing the same popularity that you earned across all forms of media. With our current on-demand culture and overall cynical and sarcastic sense of humor, it feels like we’ll never have another horror personality who can share their genuine enthusiasm for forgotten films as you did with your many series. Do you think pop culture will ever see the return of a horror host?

CP: I don’t know. I think there is room. I think the pendulum will swing back around. I think people will get burned out by, like you said, the cynicism of the whole thing and so much is available. I think at some point there’ll be burn out and it’ll come back in a simpler, to-the-point things might start looking good to people. I wouldn’t be surprised if some time goes by and there’s another wave of horror hosts. I don’t know how to explain it, but everything comes around and goes around. You know what I mean? For a long time there was no variety TV. Like, Ed Sullivan’s show was back in my day and it was a variety. All these acts came on and the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour where they picked people, came in and auditioned and then years and years went by, people said, “Oh, that genre is dead.” Low and behold, American Idol came on and now The Voice and blah blah blah, all of that.

It has a different spin on it, it’s more modern but it’s the same thing, just revisited. I have no doubt that it’ll eventually come around and probably with somebody else with a different look and feel and vibes than me, but something similar. It might just take a while but it’ll do it.

WM: With Halloween around the corner, AMC and TMC have announced their horror lineups and movie schedules. Even though almost all of these films are available to stream on a number of platforms, what do you think it is about the communal aspect of horror movie watching?

CP: One of the things I come across every single time I talk to fans, like I’m at a comic convention or horror convention, is that fans come up and I am always struck by the fact that so many people say to me, “I used to watch your show every night with my mom and dad. I used to watch it with my grandma and grandpa. I used to watch it every night with my sisters and my brothers.”

It was something that a family could … It’s strange that it’s horror movies and you’re watching, but the horror hosting aspect, with the comedy interjected, took the edge off of the horror film, and it also brought new life to old horror films that people have seen, seen, and seen and wouldn’t normally watch again. But now they’re gonna watch them because I’m making jokes about them, I’m pointing out things that happened in the movie that you wouldn’t normally notice and, you have the horror movie and the scary aspect but then you have the part that takes the edge off of it and really does make it kind of family-friendly.

But then it gets a chance for people all to be in one room together watching something and doing something together. It seems like an odd choice for that, but the times that I had people say that to me it’s like, “Every time I see your show I think of my mom cause we always watched it together.” Or every time … “My dad passed away, but this was the one thing that he and I both loved to do together.” I imagine for different reasons. The dad was staring at the cleavage and the kids were like, “Ah, the jokes are hilarious.” In a really weird way it was a very kind of wholesome family show. Strangely.

WM: One way that your popularity spread was through all the merchandise branded with your face. Lunch boxes, slot machines, party favors…is there any piece of merchandise you originally approved and ended up regretting?

Oh my god, yeah. I think what comes to mind right away was the smelly thing that you hang in your car. I’m going, “Do you really want to have your car smell like Elvira?” I don’t know what that smells like. But yeah, after I approved it, I thought, “I don’t know about that.” The second thing is, I once approved my very first action figure and oh lordy, that is so … It was so ugly. It could not have made me look more horrific. People still bring it to me to sign it and I’m like, “Ah, the ugly Elvira troll doll.” But yeah, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but when the actual thing came out it was like, “Oh, god.” I just wanted to buy all of them and burn them. Since then, I’ve had some action figures come out that are much, much more attractive looking.

WM: Lastly, you’ve done a number of appearances and guest spots and hosting gigs, but is another feature-length Elvira movie in the cards?

CP: I go back and forth on that. Honestly, I kind of feel like you can’t reheat an old souffle, and I wouldn’t want to make another Elvira film if it didn’t have the impact that the first one had, and that one has become a real cult classic. Man, I would really be bummed out if I did another one and … I shouldn’t use Pee-wee movie as an example but, Pee-wee’s first movie was so freaking great and then he did the Netflix one and … I loved the Netflix one, I absolutely adored it. I thought it was great, but people still harkened back to that first one and it’s like, how are you ever gonna do that again? It was just magic, and I’m afraid of doing that and going, “Yeah, Elvira did another film and, you know. It didn’t live up to the first one.” That’s just kind of a bummer. You know? It’s like making Wizard of Oz the squeal. I mean, did you really want to see that? I don’t know. I think I’d rather go in a different direction. Something else like TV or live stage or something like that. Yeah. You get what I mean?

WM: Absolutely. Again, thanks so much for talking to me. I can’t wait to see what you bring to the realm of TV and your autobiography and everything you come out with.

CP: Thank you, and if you wouldn’t mind just mentioning elvira.com in there somewhere that would be awesome. Also, I have the number one slot machine in Las Vegas.

WM: I can’t say that I used it in Las Vegas, but I went to my first casino just a few weeks ago and as soon as I saw it, I was like, “Well, I don’t really know how to play slot machines, but this has Elvira on it so, maybe it’ll bring me good luck.”

CP: There you go.

WM: You do owe me … You owe me personally maybe about $20 but I’m sure you’ll make up for it down the line.

CP: I won $500 on it last time I was in Vegas, so there. Could you believe that? But it’s a super fun machine because as it goes on you get into all these old clips from old horror movies, which is really fun and entertaining so it’s not just like throwing your money in there forever. You actually get a little entertainment value for your money.

WM: Well sounds like you’ll get another $20 out of me the next time I go.

CP: There you go.

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