By Tony Sokol
Cassandra Peterson retired her Elvira character from the convention circuit a few years ago, but after 35 years as the iconic horror hostess, she has enough stories to tell to fill a coffee table book. Cassandra will release Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, a 240-page hardcover coffee table book, on October 5, 2016.
“This book represents thirty-five years of work: some of it challenging; most of it interesting; all of it fun,” Peterson said in a statement. “I hope you’ll enjoy taking a walk with me down mammary… uh, I mean memory lane.”
Actress and screenwriter Cassandra Peterson is an artist of many myths. She had a date with Elvis that ended with the two harmonizing at a piano. Federico Fellini cast her in the movie Roma after seeing her walk down a street in Rome. Richie Cunningham got a fake ID on Happy Days to see Cassandra strip. She disproved the notion that Tom Jones stuck socks in his trouser.
Peterson began her comedy career in the legendary improv and sketch troupe The Groundlings, which also launched the careers of the late Phil Hartman of The Simpsons, original Saturday Night Live Not Ready for Prime Time player Lorraine Newman, John Lovitz, Julia Sweeny, and Paul Reubens, who she later beat the shit out of in the Tim Burton-directed Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is currently available for pre-order and can be purchased on elvira.com and tweeterhead.com.
Cassandra Peterson spoke exclusively with Den of Geek about all of the above and a lot of the below.
Den of Geek: You’re a renowned expert in bad horror, will there be any shocking revelations about any of the movies you’ll be showing?
Cassandra Peterson: I think the whole Hulu thing will be a little edgier Elvira than people have seen. A little more sex and violence. The movies have nudity. That’s interesting for me because usually they have to black out all that. I’m always on regular television where we have standards and practices. This time we have no standards. No standards entirely. Though you can say, Elvira never had any standards. It’s nice to be on Hulu where I can say and do whatever I want. It’s a little edgier.
Your famous for knowing about bad horror movies, but are there any prestigious horror films that you think should go in the bad horror bin?
Interesting, I’ll have to think about that. A lot of movies like Saw, I would put Saw on the list. I know, people love, people love it but some of those movies move too non-horror for me. I wouldn’t even throw them in the bad horror bin. I’d throw them in the trash bin. I just don’t like the psycho-torturing of the women, that for me is just not horror. It’s nightly news.
What do you think is missing from horror movies today?
It’s funny, there are so many special effects that I think they’ve kind of lost the raw spooky edginess that they had a long time ago. When you take all the imagination out of people’s heads and you put it on the screen, there’s nothing left for you to imagine. It’s like a thrill ride, you don’t walk out of there being scared by, say sharks, or a vampire or a witch. You’re on an up and down thrill ride like a roller coaster, which has its place too. I like that. Some of the old horror movies have a sense of a psychological effect on you that you couldn’t get them out of your head for weeks. You’d be walking outside, scared to go around the corner. They stuck with you because you were imagining what was going on in your head, it wasn’t all up there on the screen for you.
Did Elvis ever sing to you alone?
He did. When I was with Elvis, I met him in Vegas when I was a showgirl, and I went to his room, which was a giant two-story suite at the top of the International Hotel in Vegas, which is no longer there. He sat down at the piano and he sang a song with me sitting on the piano bench with him. I started harmonizing with him, and we were singing a song together. That’s when he said to me “you have a pretty decent voice. Why don’t you get into singing? Why don’t you stop being a showgirl and take vocal lessons? Become a singer. This is Vegas, it’s no place for a young girl. You shouldn’t be living here it’s no good.”
I took him totally at his word. The next day I went to a vocal coach. It wasn’t long after that that I did get a part singing in the same show that I was in in Vegas. I eventually left there and went to Europe and tried to make it over there as a singer.
Old movies like The Haunting or what was that movie with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie? Don’t Look Now, movies that really left a lot to the imagination. Psycho is a good example of that, of course that’s getting back into psychos killing you, but that’s a movie that I can’t watch to this day.
Did you ever dabble in black magic or the dark arts?
When I was a teenager I really got into reading Tarot cards. I was very into the Ouija board. I didn’t do anything without finding out what I was supposed to do with a Ouija board first. I was way into that when I was a teenager so does that count? I studied Tarot cards. I was very serious about Tarot Cards for a long time when I was a kid.
You can read the rest of this in-depth interview at http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/cassandra-peterson/240290/cassandra-peterson-talks-elvira-elvis-and-evil-bong-in-exclusive-interview