Weren’t slumber parties the best when we were kids? Those parties were in abundance when I was in elementary, Jr. High, and high school. Those elementary and Jr. High ones were the best, however. That’s when I could watch the latest horror movies. I was in fourth grade at one of those epic slumber parties when I laid my eyes on Elvira for the first time. My classmate happened to live in my favorite house on the busy corner of the street I lived on. It was a powder blue two-story craftsman, and it was always captured my attention because it radiated haunted energy. My classmate had convinced her mother to rent horror movies from the video store for this particular slumber party. We stayed up until three am watching Childs Play, a few of the Nightmare On Elm Street films and some cheesy ones I don’t remember. When we ran out of rented tapes to watch, my classmate revealed that her dad had recorded the “Elvira show” -the show her mother didn’t want her or her dad watching. So, he recorded them before going to work. Her mother never figured that out.
She ensured her mother was asleep before we loaded the VHS tape into the VCR. We lowered the volume on the TV, so we had to huddle around it to hear the show. There were terrible horror movies to sit through so, we would fast forward to Elvira’s segments. I was only eight or nine but, I was so “excited” by the sight of the forbidden hostess. How she proudly displayed her boobs, her scandalous eye makeup, and that hair! I was hooked, and I was envious. I wanted to be her one day.
I didn’t get to see much of Elvira’s Movie Macabre outside of that solitary party but, when Elvira’s Mistress of the Dark came out on VHS in 1989, which wasn’t long after that slumber party, now that I think about it, I had to see it. I had to!
Of corpse, my mother would never allow me to rent it. I wasn’t even allowed to listen to Prince. So, I had to wait a few years before catching it on cable. Back then, cable TV packages would include HBO or Showtime, you couldn’t get both, and some extras like Nickelodeon and MTV -when they played music videos 24/7. Anyways, I was in Jr. High when I got to watch Mistress of the Dark. By then, I had sprouted tits myself and wanted to be as bold and confident as Elvira. But, she was a grown-up. I had to wait many years before trying to fit into Elvira’s shoes. I was on the right track; I was already obsessed with horror movies and Halloween.
When I first started going to Halloween and Horror conventions, Cassandra Peterson was often present. I can only recall one occasion she came as Elvira. I was more closed-minded about whom I spent my autograph money on those days, and I took Cassandra’s appearances for granted.
“She lives in Silverlake; she doesn’t need the money.”
“When she comes as Elvira, then I’ll pay for a picture and autograph.”
When that time came, I was discouraged by the Kraken tentacle-sized line snaking its way in and out of the former Sweet Candy Store in Hollywood. Elvira’s funko-pop had just launched, and everyone waiting for her was too energetic for me. That day was a lot. I brushed the failed experience off as trendy and once again took the opportunity for granted.
There were no more Elvira appearances after that.
I did have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Cassandra when she came to the Kreepsville 666 Grand Opening of their new Monster A-Go-Go location in East LA in early 2020. I knew what to expect. Hordes and hordes of Elvira fans are all there to catch a glimpse or a touch for anything of the legendary icon. I was right, and I was discouraged. No matter, I was there to cover the opening of Monster A-Go-Go. What a day that turned out to be. But, I got closer to Cassandra than ever before.
Then, 2020 went on, and the Kreepsville 666 uproar came about. I waited for a response, a comment, anything from the true Queen of Halloween to say something. That something didn’t happen as I expected, and I disengaged. I began to perceive The Queen of Darkness as cliché.
When the horror community began buzzing about Cassandra’s revelation that she has been in a relationship with a woman for 19 years, I began to pay attention to Elvira again. The story was all in her new book, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark, published in the fall of 2021. I was excited for Cassandra but concerned about why she would wait to share this beautiful love story so late and in this day in age. Was it a gimmick to sell her book since shows and conventions have been too risky to attend? I let my fallacious assumption prevent me from making Your’s Cruelly a priority read.
That was until someone very special to me made it a priority. I am so fucking grateful that someone did.
I wasn’t expecting a signed copy of Yours Cruelly when Zachariah the Witch told me to expect a package from him. Not only was it signed but, Zachariah’s gift note to me was so heartfelt, I could sense showers of gold glitter emanating from it.
So, I had to dive in.
From the first page, I was fully committed. I don’t want to give you a review of the book. Please read it for yourself. Just know that, by the end of the first chapter, I realized I had been so horribly wrong about Cassandra being cliche. I was incredibly wrong for assuming she was fine financially. I was so regretfully wrong to think she was too silent.
Then, 33 years of adoration and artistry charged by the divine feminine came surging through the pages and into my heart; from her relationship with her mother to her adulthood relationships and journey through the industry, I felt every bit of her pleasure and her pain.
There is nothing cliche about Cassandra Peterson or Elvira. I finally see and embrace how and why she has so much love and support behind her. Cassandra isn’t influenced and therefore ruined by fame. Elvira invokes and uses the power of sexuality to pave the way for femmes of every background to express themselves despite the threat of men who will undoubtedly try to bring them down. She is a symbol of strength.
I get Elvira so much more now. I look forward to finally meeting her, looking her in the eyes, and not taking that moment for granted.