Cassandra Peterson looks back on 40 years of Elvira, mistress of darkness


Well, speaking of Brad Pitt, you had these really weird supernatural experiences while living in your Hollywood home known as Briarcliff Manor, which you ultimately sold to Brad. By the way, I could totally see you teaming up with James Wan from the “Conjuring” universe and creating a horror movie based on your haunted house experiences.

Oh my God. It’s actually a great idea. Uh-oh. I see myself paying you tons of royalties [Laughs]. Attractive. But it’s a fun idea. I mean, this house, man. And here is the strange thing. I always tell people, they say, “Well, Elvira is just crazy.” Of course she is. Except none of this has ever happened to me before. And none of this has ever happened since, anywhere I’ve ever lived. So it was right there in that house. And it just went on and on, man. I was getting to the point of saying to myself, “I have to get out of here, or I’ll lose him.” So here is.

Brad Pitt has been your neighbor for eight years. After he bought the house, you ended up moving next door. Has he ever spoken of weird experiences? Did you tell him the weird stories before you sold him the house?

Yes, I told him everything. He loved her. He was everywhere. He thought it was great. He was eager to see a ghost, but as I explained in the book, I not only had the house exorcised, but also had a Native American shaman completely cleansed it, as there had been three untimely deaths in the house. And so, Brad liked it all. But every time I saw him I would walk along the street and walk past him, which was like, “Oh my god, oh my god. And then I would ask him, “Have you seen any ghosts?” “And he replied:” No, not yet!

In the mid-90s, Hugh Hefner offered you a huge sum of money to pose nude as Elvira in Playboy magazine. As you were seriously considering the offer, you said that you have decided to join Gold’s Gym in Hollywood and want to be ready, just in case a photoshoot comes up.

Yes. I wanted to find my body, my body before pregnancy.

Well if you believe in the butterfly effect or fate or things that happen for a reason and watch the chain reaction of events that followed, it was at Gold’s that you first met Teresa ” T “Wierson, who was a gym trainer at the time. If this Playboy deal hadn’t happened, you might never have joined Gold and met her. In a weird way, do you feel like Hugh Hefner indirectly paved the way for you?

[Laughs] May be. Yes, no, he is responsible. By the way, I loved Hef. Hmmm, he’s responsible for my meeting with T – it’s amazing. And you know what? Funny you say that, because yes, I wouldn’t have gone back to train. I’m like, “Oh, I’m tired. I’m a new mom.” You know? And I thought, “I better get in shape because if that happens?” So this is it. Okay, that’s good. I’ll think about it for a moment. Hugh Hefner made me gay! [Laughter]

You finally said no to the Playboy offer. However, years later you’ve been going through some tough times after your divorce and everything. If this Playboy offer had come during a financial crisis, do you think you could have given in and done it?

Well I could have. I’m glad I didn’t, because believe it or not, even with all the sexy events with Elvira, I’m still doing licensing and merchandising, and she’s still pretty kid-friendly. I mean, Elvira is still PG-13. That’s what the movie was. That’s what my two films were. And they get a little sexy, but they never crossed that line. And unfortunately, I think if I had done Playboy it really could have ended my career much sooner. My main income comes from licensing and character marketing, so that would have gone away, I think. And I had posed nude before, and I had worked nude in Vegas. And I had a thousand and one different things that I had done naked. It wasn’t about being embarrassed or anything, but they wanted me to impersonate naked Elvira, so it was different.

“Yours Cruelly, Elvira” by Cassandra Peterson is now available at Hachette Books.


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