On Sunday I drove down to Orange County to hear Elvira rap. “If they test me they sorry,” is a line I’m pretty sure came out of the 63-year-old’s mouth. If you recognize it, it’s because it’s from “Bang Bang,” the hit by Jessie J and Nicki Minaj. Since Nicki likely wasn’t available to help out, Elvira did the rap (and other verses) herself. It’s fitting for a performer who’s always been a bit of a multitasker because, in fact, she’s two people: Elvira—Mistress of the Dark, a radio host and TV character—and Cassandra Peterson—the redhead actress, Playboy model, Fellini muse, and bedder of Elvis, who told a reporter in 2008 she lost her virginity to Tom Jones and needed stiches because his dick was so big.
Given that bio, Cassandra seems like the more interesting of the two. But when I arrive at Elvira’s dressing room, I’m told not to ask questions to Cassandra, only to Elvira, who now spends the month of October doing two-shows-a-night at Knott’s Scary Farm, a haunted amusement park in Buena Park. She looks exactly the same since first appearing in the 1980s: blending sex and death like none other with drag hair, goth makeup, and MILF cleavage. In her show’s hyperactive thirty minutes, she works the crowd in an Old Hollywood accent, molests a male audience member, and dances. A deranged clown deep throats a cock-shaped pink balloon. A contortionist puts her legs behind her head. Elvira returns to the stage and makes more jokes about the size of her boobs and sex drive. Finally, she raps.
Elvira’s success has depended on maintaining a spookily consistent image with the tiniest tweaks to keep it fresh. She tells me herself she’s the Santa Claus of Halloween, and I believe it. Watching Elvira rap is like watching a commercial with Santa drinking a Coke—a timeless figure, temporarily emerging on a holiday to make a buck. Like Santa, she’s impossible to not like—or at least be amused by. She’s a true entertainer, living for the spotlight.
After her show, I’m given a seven minutes with Elvira and told to put my sweatshirt on over my cheearleader outfit. (“Costumes aren’t allowed at Scary Farm.”) Elvira’s chest, however, is most definitely uncovered. Perched in an elevated throne, her cleavage is directly at eye level for seven minutes of pure Elvira—sexy, funny, and a little bit frightening.
PLAYBOY: What do you think is the sexiest Halloween costume, other than an Elvira costume?
ELVIRA: Other than Elvira, I don’t think there are any other sexy costumes! Maybe a centerfold from Playboy? With nothing but your birthday suit.
PLAYBOY: That’s a good one. Do you feel like you’re seeing other exciting new costumes this year? Trends?
ELVIRA: No—besides you in the cheerleader outfit! [Laughs] I haven’t gone out there unfortunately too much to see costumes, you know. God, I am sorta in my insulated little world here.
PLAYBOY: In your bubble.
ELVIRA: I wish I had a better answer for you but I swear to God I haven’t seen a costume.
PLAYBOY: Well, where do you draw the line at scary versus sexy?
ELVIRA: Hmm… Well, with Kim Kardashian…
PLAYBOY: Is she scary or sexy? [Both laughing]
ELVIRA: She goes over both lines. She blurs the line.
PLAYBOY: Well, maybe she is a good Halloween costume.
ELVIRA: Yeah, exactly, I am with you. Good Halloween costume. Talk about scary-sexy.
PLAYBOY: Why do you think people like to be scared?
ELVIRA: I think it actually has to do with drugs: the drugs that you manufacture in your own brain! You get a rush, an adrenaline rush and it’s a feeling you don’t get to have very often—that fight-or-flight thing. But you know you’re safe in general, like at Scary Farm.
PLAYBOY: I was reading your Wikipedia page and it said as a kid you were into scary toys.
ELVIRA: I was.
PLAYBOY: What are some good scary toys to give to kids that aren’t too scary?
ELVIRA: Nowadays? Well, don’t give them any apples with razor blades in them. That’s out completely. As for scary toys, the Elvira website is full of scary things for kids. Scary clothing, scary little Elvira figurines, or an Elvira action-figure could be very inappropriate for your child. [Laughing]
PLAYBOY: So you have obviously been at this game for a long time. How do you stay relevant for so many years? Like, what’s the Elvira secret?
ELVIRA: Well, let’s see. It’s hook yourself on a holiday and go with it. Look, I figure if the turkey and the Santa Claus are both still around, I can stick around for years too.
PLAYBOY: Your career has brought you all around the world: Italy, Vegas, Orange County. What’s the coolest place you have ever lived?
ELVIRA: I think my favorite place was Rome. Italy—it’s just so full of history.
PLAYBOY: And you were in a Fellini movie?
ELVIRA: Yeah, that was for a Fellini movie. It’s just so romantic—a sexy city. You know Italians.
PLAYBOY: I’m a quarter Italian…
ELVIRA: There you go.
PLAYBOY: Have you heard of health goth?
PLAYBOY: It’s a trend right now where people dress goth but also look like they could be going to the gym to work out—like gym shorts meets goth.
ELVIRA: That’s so funny! But don’t tell me they are going to go and get a tan, because that would ruin the whole goth thing!
PLAYBOY: True. LA has always been a heart of goth culture but it’s also all about sunshine and fitness. What is that relationship?
ELVIRA: I like that. To tell you the truth. I kinda feel like a health goth myself. Believe me, in order to stay in this dress for that long, I have to work out. It doesn’t just happen with magic, you know what I am saying.
PLAYBOY: So what’s the Elvira fitness secret? Kale? Greek yogurt? Witches brew?
ELVIRA: [Laughs] Yeah, it should be like that but I think it’s more like candy corn. Be sure to eat the orange part because that’s where all the vitamins are.