Actress Cassandra Peterson, best known as Elvira to her fans, revealed in her upcoming memoir Yours Cruelly, Elvira she has been in a 19-year relationship with another woman, Teresa "T" Wierson. Since excerpts from the book were released earlier this week, Peterson, 70, has given a pair of interviews about how she came to the decision to publicly discuss her relationship for the first time. In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Peterson said the decision to keep her relationship a secret was a career decision since it could change how the fictional Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is seen.
"She's always after guys, guys are chasing her, and I am the owner of a brand. And I felt I had to protect that brand," Peterson told Yahoo! Thursday. She also kept her 25-year marriage to a man, Mark Pierson, mostly out of the spotlight to keep Elvira's "big horndog" image intact. "If I was married for 25 years to the same man, I didn't want people to know that, because I think it would turn off a lot of male fans, you know?" Peterson explained. "So, I just kept my relationships private as I could, just to keep the character intact."
Peterson and Wierson's relationship turned romantic shortly after breaking up with Pierson. In Yours Cruelly, Peterson wrote that she "felt compelled to kiss" Wierson after seeing a movie with her. Peterson was "stunned" by her own feelings. In the book, Wierson is only referred to as "T," but Peterson said Wierson understands why she decided to talk about their relationship publicly.
"I had to really, really talk her into letting me put this [in the book], because she doesn't want to be in the public eye," Peterson told Yahoo!. "She's not that kind of person. As far as she was concerned, it was great being that way. But I think it will be nice not to have to hide it, and for her and me not to have to lie to people all the time, which is basically what we were doing. I hate that."
During a stop on The Tamron Hall Show Thursday, Peterson admitted that it was "kind of scary" to share her truth now. "It is scary and exciting, but also I'm very relieved and so is my partner. Holding in secrets all the time gives you gas," Peterson told Hall. "I mean it's, I was just reading an interview with the actor Danny Trejo, who's a friend and he said, 'You're only as sick as your secrets.' It really does, it's not a good feeling, keeping that from people."
Peterson began playing Elvira in 1981, hosting B movies for KHJ-TV in Los Angeles. Over the years, the cult character's popularity expanded well beyond Southern California. The character also had attracted LGBTQ+ fans, which Peterson believes is due to the character's blurring of gender roles. "Really, what I've come down to is it's an androgynous character in a way, in that all three of us are sexy, but tough, strong, take-no-bulls—," Peterson told Yahoo!. "And I think gay men in particular really like that sexiness, but not being a little wimp. They like the tough, powerful women. And that becomes kind of androgynous, because you've got sort of a personality of a man, but you look like a super-sexy woman."