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Cassandra Peterson ‘Searches for the Next Elvira’ on Reality TV

[IMG:L]Cassandra Peterson might be holding a Search for the Next Elvira on the Fox Reality Channel, but she’s not looking for a replacement and she’s certainly not thinking about retiring.

“I do so many appearances every year at Halloween time that there is no way that I can do them all or even a fraction of them, so I take the top 10 gigs that I can make it to and all these other great gigs go begging,” explains the original Mistress of the Dark. “I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there were tons of Elviras that we could clone and send out and then take a percentage of their money?’”

It takes more than a black-goth gown and some serious cleavage to be the next Elvira, Peterson warns: “If she can’t French kiss a tarantula then I’m sorry she’s just not going to work out!”

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When Hollywood.com caught up with the scream queen to chat about her new show, Peterson was ready to dish …

Hollywood.com: What kind of skill is required to be the next Elvira? What are you looking for on a resume? 
Cassandra Peterson:
There are a couple of things we are going to need and you can always get a little help from your brother’s gym socks [laughs]. You do need to be pretty shapely, but that’s not the most important thing. It is not a beauty contest. You need to have a really good cheesy sense of humor and really have a love for the horror genre. You also can’t be a big old wuss because in my career, I have had to do a lot of really weird things over the last 26 years. I always tell people I’ve spent more time in a coffin than any living person because I really have. You would not believe the time I’ve spent in a coffin or sometimes buried and having to pop out. Waiting hours while they shoot and laying around in graves and frolicking around cemeteries. You have to be pretty down with that and then I’ve also worked with bats, spiders, rats, snakes, every kind of little creature you can think of so you have to be happy with those crawling around on you. You are, after all, the Queen of Halloween–so you have to be happy with the spooky things.

[IMG:R]HW: I bet those make for some great challenges.
CP:
Yes! There will be a lingerie section of the show–that will boost ratings [laughs]–but [the challenges] will involve a little furry creature action, a little reptile action and probably some being buried alive action.

HW: I heard that a male contestant made it onto the show. Will he be modeling lingerie too?
CP:
He will also have to wear lingerie, absolutely. Yes, he must be able to do anything that Elvira can do, and technically he should be able to do one or two other things that Elvira can’t do!

HW: What kind of response did you get from casting calls and searches?
CP:
We did a big casting call, a search, on our website, and the Fox Reality Channel website, through casting people all over the country. We got people who actually flew in from Minnesota, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Texas … people flew in from all over the country to audition.

HW: Was it men and women of all ages?
CP:
All ages, shapes, sizes, races … species [laughs].

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HW: Who’s qualified to judge the contestants with you? Impersonators?
CP:
We had three judges, it was kind of an American Idol kind of thing and three Elviras. Me and my little hand maidens of the dark–Elvira female impersonators. They’ve been doing it for about 15 years and they have the character so down they really look great and really have the whole attitude down so they made the perfect judges. It has sort of turned into Paula AbdulSimon Cowell and Randy Jackson with a heavy emphasis on the Simon Cowell thing.

[IMG:L]HW: Did you also see this show as an opportunity to introduce Elvira to the younger crowd of reality TV viewers?
CP:
Definitely–the television visibility is going to be good. I think the younger generation, it is strange, they think of Elvira as just a pop culture icon. They sort of know it’s out there in the atmosphere, even though they may not have seen the movie or seen the television show they’ve seen maybe enough merchandise around or photos. I don’t think most of them know Elvira is a living person. It’s like Batman to them so I think it does not matter if I play it or someone else does. I’ve often envisioned another movie. You could have Angelina Jolie playing Elvira because with enough hair and make up you could have your dog playing Elvira and it wouldn’t matter really [laughs].

HW: Elvira is such a popular Halloween costume. Have you ever been out and about trying to get to your Halloween gig and people mistake you for a look-alike?
CP:
Oh yeah, absolutely! This really stupid thing happened in New York City. I was in a [Halloween] parade and Kiss was right behind me and the parade went on for an eternity. They had promised me I would be done in an hour and an hour passes and the parade hasn’t even started. Two and a half hours go by and I’m freezing my butt off. I was dying, I was so uncomfortable that I jumped off the float and I jumped in one of those pedal cabs and was zooming along and everyone is going “Wow, great Elvira costume! Cool costume! Oh my God, you look just like Elvira!” It was so funny. They couldn’t believe the real Elvira could be going down 5th Avenue in a rickshaw.

HW: Since you took on the Elvira persona, have you ever been anything else for Halloween?
CP:
No! I used to be the biggest, biggest Halloween freak who would work like a month on their costume. Growing up my mother owned a costume shop so I grew up as this insane costume freak, but for 26 years I’ve had to wear the same damn costume, that is a bummer. I just envision the day when I’ll be older and I know what I’ll wear too; it will be like Mary Poppins or a nun or something without high heels and a tight corset, anything comfortable … muumuu, flip flops. I’ll go as Shelley Winters! Anything but this.

[IMG:R]HW: Where will we find you this Halloween?
CP:
I’m doing the live final show for Search for the Next Elvira on Halloween night. I’m also doing a Dream Halloween the Saturday before which is a huge fundraiser for children with AIDS and Mattel is presenting an Elvira Barbie, a one of a kind Elvira Barbie. I have a lot of other things going on all over the country. I have to go to Vegas to the new Planet Hollywood, I will be all over the place throughout the month, as many as I can handle. I wish I had a couple more Elviras to bring a long with me!

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