The Queen of Halloween needs no introduction. Cassandra Peterson, also known as Elvira. 2016 marks Cassandra’s 35th year as Elvira and she is releasing an incredible coffee table book titled Elvira, Mistress of the Dark on October 5, 2016.
The book is absolutely incredible. How did you decide what photos to choose after thirty-five years of being ELVIRA?
Cassandra: I’ve wanted to do this for a really long time. I have so many photos. In thirty-five years I may have done more photo sessions than anyone alive. I had tons and tons of photos that were just sitting there in a storage unit. I wanted to do a coffee table book compilation of these photos but I didn’t really have the people to do it so when Chad Colebank from Tweeterhead came along he threw the idea out there of doing a book and it was his for fore into and mine too. With the help of my Assistant Christian, they went through all the photos and pulled the best ones. I Okayed them all. We went through the whole process and it’s taken quite a while. It’s kind of a dream I’ve had forever kind of finally coming true.
Did you face any challenges while putting the book together?
Cassandra: My biggest challenge was when I took all these photos back in the day there was no Photoshop. We had to shoot a really good picture because retouching was so expensive. We couldn’t afford to do it. We would do a photo session and have a few hundred photos and we just had to pick out one or two that were perfect, no hair was out of place, everything looked good, nothing showing that you didn’t want to show. We had to do all of that by hand back then. I was having this dilemma about when there was a photo that didn’t look as good as the modern should we Photoshop it? I decided not to so some of the photos in the beginning I look at and I go UGH, Yuck! I can’t stand it because they don’t look as good as modern day photos that have been photo shopped so I had a hard time with releasing some of those earlier photos because they were not perfect and everybody expects perfect.
Cassandra: Thank you. That is what Chad and Christian tried to convince me. Another dilemma was trying to figure out what year the pictures were from because I am pretty happy to say that with the exception of a few of them. A lot of them are hard to place, if they were old or new?
One of my favorite photos is of you with the cat. You have done so much for the animals.
Cassandra: I have rescued a zillion animals in my lifetime. I had such a rotating crew of animals most of the thirty years as I’ve been Elvira. My snake that you will see pictures in thereof. The snake was given to me by a fan when he was like the size of a pencil. He was a Burmese python and he grew to be thirteen foot long and had to go to a zoo eventually because he was too big to handle. I’ve recued a rotating group of dogs all my life and my kitty cat (in the book) was not a rescue but was a breed of cat way back when I was completely not cognizant of rescuing animals which I would never do again. She was a breed of cat called a Havana brown so she was actually dark chocolate brown. Everybody always said, oh how did you get this fantastic picture where you look good and she looks good. It was just one out of many of hundreds of photos and we happen to get one where we both look great. But yeah I am a big animal rights person and I’ve rescued so many dogs and cats but generally I would take them and then try to find a home for them. I’ve always had my regulars that I never gave away. I rescued Rottweilers also for many years because they were kind of hard to place dogs and quite a few pit bulls. Dogs that really had a hard time finding a home.
Question from the amazing Mikey Aspinwall: you’re a pop culture icon! Is there anything you’d love to do as Elvira that you haven’t done yet?
Cassandra: There’s a couple things I am working on. One is an animation project for TV, taking forever but I am steadily working away at it. The other is writing my autobiography. I keep starting to do it and then I don’t have time. Then I take time off to do it and then I am busy again. It is a project that I’d really like to get into more. I’d like to take some time off and do that. I think the fans would really appreciate it. I had a pretty bizarre life. I don’t know that a lot of people really know where I came from? I used to generally say that things kind of calmed down and normal once I became Elvira because before that I had quite a wacky life (she sort of went into Elvira mode while saying this! AMAZING!) When you become Elvira and things get calm you know you’re in trouble right!? That is something I really hope to complete one of these days.
Do you have some upcoming appearances coming up for the book?
Cassandra: Yes, I am going to be doing a big appearance here at Barnes and Noble at The Grove which is probably the biggest and most popular book store in LA. Then I believe, I am hopefully going to do book signings in a few major cities around the country. I know I’ll be doing one in New York City. We don’t have those dates set up and that will probably be sometime right before Christmas because even though Halloween of course is my time, Christmas is generally when most coffee table books are sold because they make such great gifts.
Yes, that is true. They make incredible gifts. Everyone needs to get one!
Cassandra: The great thing about coffee table books is it’s almost a piece of décor. If you are into the dark side, the spooky side, Goth anything like that. A coffee table book can be sort of décor in your home rather just a book that you sit down and peruse. So, I think it will do really well for a Christmas gift.
You even provide the commentary in the book.
Cassandra: That was another tricky thing was trying to do the balance of a little commentary but not giving away stuff that I would give away in my autobiography.
Do you have a favorite story about one of the photos in the book?
Cassandra: I do. It’s funny, it is the opening photo where the forward is. It is a picture I got while we were putting the book together my mom sent me this old photo that she had of me when I was five years old. She said do you remember dressing up like this? I was like, no not really. She told me it was a black sheet for Halloween and she made me a black and orange dress out of crepe paper with a crown and scepter and I said to her, good heavens what do you think I was dressing up as? She said to me oh, you wanted to be the Queen of Halloween! So, I put that picture in the book because I was blown away. I was like what? Are you sure? She said yeah the Queen of Halloween or you said you wanted to be the Princess of Halloween. That is what you wanted to be for your first Halloween.
And you are the Queen of Halloween now!!!
Cassandra: I know. That is the freakiest thing and I didn’t see that picture until right when we were almost near the end of the book and immediately called up Chad and said we’ve got to put this in there somehow.
What would you like to say to the fans and the people that will be purchasing the book?
Cassandra (with a touch of Elvira): You are getting the deal of the century! So many photos, so little money! I really hope they enjoy it. I think there are photos that they haven’t seen before. I know there are photos they have seen before because I haven’t even seen them before until I started going through these boxes. I think they will enjoy revisiting the iconic photos that have been around many years on merchandise or on posters. I think they will get a kick out of seeing some of these pictures that were mistakes. We have a lot of Polaroid’s in there where I look horrible, I am making awful faces and stuff. I am hoping it will give them a little window into Elvira that isn’t always perfect and she messes up and makes mistakes like everybody.
Cassandra: Well, the sad thing about me being Elvira is that I am always, always working on Halloween. I have tried to start traditions over the years especially when my daughter was young. I was never around to take her trick r treating. She always had to go with her dad. I tried buying a little Halloween village with all these cute little buildings that were like haunted houses and Dracula’s castle. I would set them up on my grand piano. It ended up that we would never end up getting them out in time for Halloween because I was working so much. So we ended up doing a spooky scene every year for Christmas. So we would take our spooky little village and we would put snow and stuff on it. So we got in the tradition of doing our spooky stuff at Christmas time instead. It is unfortunate for me, the two worst parts about Halloween for me is that I never get to go to Halloween parties and I always have to wear the same costume. Other than that, it’s fantastic though.
Do you think you will do another coffee table photo book of photos that you come across and think, oh I should have put that photo in a book?
Cassandra: It’s possible, I have so damn many photos, and I could make ten books probably. You never know but I am hoping to get my autobiography going. I would certainly put a lot of photos in that mostly of my younger years before I was Elvira but also pictures of you know being Elvira. I have tons of pictures. I’ve thought about doing a book of just people who are dressed up as me or people who have tattooed Elvira on their body somewhere. I have an amazing collection of look-a-likes and tattoos and art that fans have done of me. Some of it is just spectacular! So I thought about going that route. It would be interesting for people to see, all these various tattoos and look-alikes. I have look-a-likes from babies that are under a year old to people who are in their nineties dressed up as Elvira. Men, women, dogs, and cats you name it! Everybody.
Thank you so much Cassandra, It was an honor to speak with the one and only Elvira.
Cassandra: Thank you. Thanks Janel!
ELIVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK is available on October 5, 2016.
ELVIRA’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.elvira.com/
ELVIRA ON TWITTER twitter.com/TheRealElvira
ELVIRA ON FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/TheRealElvira/
ELVIRA’S TUMBLR therealelvira.tumblr.com/
ELVIRA’S OFFICIAL YOUTUBE www.youtube.com/user/elviravideos