Elvira and Her Naughty Knights

Article by Deb Kavis

Consider us over the full moon to hear that Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, has just released a new memoir entitled Yours Cruelly, Elvira.

But first, a word from our sponsor.

Now onto the evening’s feature entertainment.

The Top 5 Reasons Penthouse Loves Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

Elvira by AndrogynArtTruth be told, should you finally decide to write your autobiography at seventy years old, and you happen to have been hit in the head with a tear gas canister at a Jimi Hendrix concert when you were a teenager, odds seem pretty good that you have an interesting tale to tell. Around here, naturally, we love interesting tails — er, tales. You see, Elvira would love that joke, which obviously solidifies her in our list of wisest and most interesting celebrities.

In fact, we became so excited that we wanted to share why we have such a huge crush on the television personality and spooky superstar.

1. She used to be a Vegas showgirl and once spent an evening with Elvis.

Prior to her career as Elvira, the then 17-year-old Cassandra Peterson, with permission from her parents, became the youngest ever Vegas Showgirl, dancing in “Viva Les Girls” at The Dunes Hotel. One fateful night, she ended up at an after-party with Elvis Presley, who gave her what she has since referred to as the advice that changed her life. He told her to leave Vegas, advised her to get a singing coach, and suggested she get serious about a career in show business. Elvis saw real talent and drive in Elvira, and Vegas showgirls do not have a long shelf-life, after all.

Fun Fact: In 1971 on the Las Vegas strip, you could employ an underage girl to dance topless in your show, but if one of her friends from the cast dared to be seen in public having dinner with Wilt Chamberlain, you could fire that friend for this heinous offense. … This was barely 50 years ago, folks. Pay attention to what’s happening out there. We owe that to each other.

2. Elvira’s Movie Macabre ran for five seasons and gave us plenty of laughs and scares.

The original run of the series spanned from 1981 to 1986 and made Elvira a household name — her pale vampiric visage and enchanting curves filling up her every frame. Schlocky B-grade horror and science fiction movies were the name of the game on late-night TV back then, and Elvira played host to these viewings, occasionally interjecting her own pun-filled quips and commentary. Subsequent versions of Movie Macabre followed over the years, as did two feature length films, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and Elvira’s Haunted Hills.

For the cinema-elite, one can hardly think of Halloween without Elvira, but throughout the years she has become practically synonymous with cheesy horror. As her book wonderfully illustrates, however, we owe the gratitude to the woman behind the character. True to humble form Cassandra even refers to “Elvira” in the third person throughout the memoir.

“… she demands respect without ever having to compromise her (however warped) integrity.”

“She knows she’s not perfect, and she’s okay with that.”
Cassandra Peterson on “Elvira”

In some wise opinions (ours, and therefore wise, for example) a true cinematic education could never be complete without watching Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. If you cannot appreciate campy, then you clearly have not matured completely. (At least that would be one theory.)

3. Cassandra recently came out about her nineteen-year relationship with another woman.

Granted we have blurred the lines between Character and Actress there, but that was intentional. As revealed in Yours Cruelly, Elvira, Cassandra Peterson’s nearly two-decade long relationship with Teresa “T” Wierson brought her out of the proverbial closet and shed light on her identity as a queer individual to the surprise and delight of many of her fans. She states in her memoir that she is with, “someone who makes me feel safe, blessed, and truly loved.” We couldn’t be happier for the two of them!

While the book never makes clear her actual sexuality — how she “identifies” in modern terms — Cassandra reveals a long series of heterosexual relationships (apparently), while basically helping us understand that we are all significantly more as humans than our choice or gender of our sexual partners. If you understand that many of these early days were the type where one could lose a job for having a dinner companion boasting the wrong skin shade, you can see that society did not exactly encourage public figures to be open … pretty much at all.

We will say one thing specifically here, though. Everybody has a “lost my virginity” story, but very few could compare with the how – or to whom – that Elvira shares in the biography. We could tell you, of course, but that would rob you of a truly fun part of reading the book, which you should definitely do.

4. At 70 years of age, Elvira remains a style inspiration to all budding (and aging) goths.

Elvira’s larger-than-life character – from her black bouffant hair down to her skin-tight dress with a dagger in the belt – conjures an iconic image in the minds and hearts of all those who love her. Though she was met with a cease-and-desist letter in the early 80s from Maila Nurmi, who claimed Elvira was copying her character Vampira, courts ruled in favor of Elvira. We think there’s room for all gorgeous goths to play! Actually, even after seven decades on earth, Cassandra Peterson still looks remarkably appealing — and spry. At the age of seventy, she might be more vampiric than we think. (Just kidding!)

Regarding that whole naming-rights thing, one might think that The Oak Ridge Boys took the name of their famous song Elvira from this enchanting character. At it turned out (perhaps) it actually happened the other way around. Elvira got her name from the song. Should everyone be honest, probably a lot of momentous events in history occurred because of a figurative – or literal – drawing of ideas from a hat. (Again: Read the book.)

5. Two BIG reasons: her gorgeous 34Ds!

Next to her razor-sharp wit, Elvira’s two biggest assets are probably what you notice first when you flip on the (literal) boob tube and tune in to her show.

Full disclosure, that last item came from one of the Social Media mavens here at Penthouse, and surprisingly resistant to our “objectifying” complaints, they insisted on its inclusion. Honestly you have to throw the Social Media team a bone every now and again, or they can start feeling all downtrodden and such. (It makes you weep. … Really. Swear.) Besides, throughout her career, Elvira has both accentuated and poked fun at her physical manifestation.

“Opportunity only gives you knockers once.”Elvira

Now being Penthouse and all, we still felt the need to dress up the day with some past “costume” photo shoots featuring — in alphabetical order, because it’s way less frightening that way — Allie Haze, Daisy Marie, Dani Daniels, Julia Ann, Layla Sin, Leigh Raven, Marica Hase, Nikki Fairchild, Ruby Knox, Shawna Lenee, and Victoria Sin.

Finally, we simply had to conclude with a couple more quotes from Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark — which would be the full official title, by the way. She has a lot to say in this one, all of it entertaining and fun. When you find yourself sad that you have completed 394 pages because you wanted more, you know you have found a great book.

“That’s the moment I decided not to let little things like facts discourage me.”

“How was I supposed to know that turkeys can eat themselves to death when given unlimited access to food?”
Cassandra Peterson

Now we need to go explaining “books” to the Social Media team. A person can say a lot if they get more than 288 characters to do so. Also, we make a different team entirely sad if we did not mention that you might see all of the people on this page, well except Elvira, in rather more detail on PenthouseGold. Wow. That was a lot of shameless plugging today. Good for us!

“Giddy-Up, Pah-Oom, Papa-Oom, Papa MOW-MOW” … (Sorry. Had to be done.)

Wonderful illustrations continue, by the way, on AndrogynArt of the Instagram variety.