After 35 years of performing at Knott's Berry Farm's annual Halloween festivities, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, will be putting on her live stage show this year for the final time. The performer, also known as Cassandra Peterson, isn't putting the persona behind for good, but will free up some of her schedule in future years during her most popular holiday.
The Elvira persona first debuted in 1981 as a TV host, introducing and often interrupting a variety of schlocky sci-fi and horror movies to add her own puns and innuendos. The look of the character was heavily inspired by former horror host Vampira, but Peterson, thanks to the comedic skills she developed at The Groundlings in the late '70s, incorporated a "Valley Girl" persona into the gothic look, and a horror icon was born.
Elvira has remained a staple of the horror community for decades, but with Peterson's decision to leave her "Knott's Scary Farm" performances behind, does that mean she could ever crown another performer as the new Mistress of the Dark?
"It's a funny thing. It's a character but, I don't know...think about somebody else playing Pee-wee Herman," Peterson revealed to PopCulture.com. "I don't know that you'd really want to see that. It would be really kind of, ew, weird."
Many of us might share that "Ew" sentiment at the thought of anyone else playing Elvira, but that's not to say the efforts haven't previously been made to discover the next iconic horror host.
"It's funny you mentioned that because I thought, 'What an awesome idea. I will just pass the baton onto another girl whose Elvira and who's younger and can keep doing it and travel around and go to appearances and do all this and that,'" Peterson pointed out. "We, in fact, did a show called 'Search for the Next Elvira' where we auditioned over 2,000 people, got down to the final 10 and then we picked somebody. We thought, 'Well this is awesome, we can have this girl go out and do Elvira gigs and all that.'"
Replacing Peterson is easier said than done, as her look and charms are one-of-a-kind.
"Well, unfortunately, what happened is people wanted the real thing," Peterson confessed. "We couldn't sell her to anyone. I think we got her to do one really sad-ass parade in Nebraska somewhere and it was sad, because she's great. She was adorable. She did a good job. They just wanted the real thing. I should be flattered, I was flattered, but I also thought, 'Oh, geeze. Now I've got to do it forever until I'm 99 years old, I guess.'"
The performer has a few decades to go before being a 99-year-old Elvira and wants to make sure her show goes out with a bang.
"I want to go out looking good and it's an awesome show," Peterson confessed. "I don't want to be out there next year in a walker or something. Like, it'll be, 'Oh poor Elvira, she should have really retired a few years ago.' I want to be like Mohammed Ali. You want to go out while the going's good, and to do something different, also diversify."
Peterson might be leaving the Knott's Scary Farm stage behind, but she teased her dreams of returning to the stage in a different way.
"I have this little fantasy about doing a Broadway play of Mistress of the Dark and, I think in that case, I would definitely have someone else do it because I don't want that kind of schedule where you work 365 days a year and two shows on Sunday and a matinee. I can't deal with that," Peterson revealed.
With more time on her hands, the actress has a few ambitious projects in the works, some of which she's been meaning to accomplish for years.
"I do have two other projects lined up that I do want to focus more attention on and it would cause me not to have as much time around Halloween to put a show like this together, which takes a tremendous amount of time and effort," Peterson explained. "I'm always focused here in Southern California and it would be nice to do something in other parts of the country so that people actually know I'm around at Halloween."
Of those two other project, she teased, "One is my autobiography, which I've been working on so long it's getting ridiculous. I have to finish that sucker up. I just keep talking about it and never really doing it, and I really want to get that going."
The other project would include a return to the "boob tube" which made her a legend.
"Second thing involves TV but that is all I can say and I don't want to jinx it or anything, but it does involve a TV project and I'm just crossing my fingers that it's gonna come through. If it does, it will be freaking awesome," Peterson confessed.
You can stay up to date on all of Elvira's projects by heading to Elvira.com.