Rejoice! For the Wizard World Comic Con is finally here. Get in your costume and break out your cash to revel in the presence of Walking Dead cast members, comic book artists big and small, and, my personal favorite, Cassandra Peterson, the actress who portrayed the wise-cracking, cleavage-baring horror hostess Elvira. You can read my interview with Peterson at the bottom of the page. The convention begins on Friday afternoon and ends on Sunday. You can visit their page here for all programming and special guests.
The Howlin' Wolf is hosting the All-Nerd Rock-a-Thon on Friday night when the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus will parade con-goers from the Convention Center to the bar at 7 p.m. This show will feature live music by The Consortium of Genius, Sci Fried, and Space Metal and there will be plenty of surprises throughout the night.
The long-running rock band Pitts vs. Preps plays a show at Metairie's premier metal venue The Twist of Lime on Saturday night with Southern Whiskey Rebellion and Vulturnaut at 10 p.m. And back at the Howlin' Wolf, Slow Burn Burlesque is lighting a fire of sexuality at 9 p.m. for $15.
She isn't just your favorite horror movie hostess with the most-est, she's an entrepreneur with comics, action figures, films, a completion show, and a brand new line of cruelty-free perfumes. You can visit her website Elvira.com or keep up with her on her Elvira: The Mistress of the Dark Official Facebook page.
WYAT: How much of the character Elvira is your own personality?
Cassandra Peterson: Well, luckily, not that much. I have a feeling that the character is really my personality when I was a teenager; smart-alek, know-it-all, doesn't-back-down type of person.
WYAT: Well before Elvira, you began a career as a dancer in Las Vegas. Why did you leave home to go do that?
Peterson: That had been my dream since I was about 14 years old. I had actually seen the movie Viva Las Vegas with Elvis Presley and Ann Margaret, and I decided I wanted to be a showgirl in Las Vegas. I just obsessed about it for the next three years. By the time I turned 17, I was there working, and I was the youngest showgirl in Las Vegas history, as far as I know.
WYAT: And you met Elvis when you were in Las Vegas, right?
Peterson: I did, yes. I was trying to be cool, calm, and collected, but inside, I was dying. Because I was a huge Elvis fan. My parents were huge Elvis fans. I was raised on Elvis. Meeting him was a dream come true. It was amazing getting to hang out with him, and play the piano and sing together, and talk. It was just overwhelming. He gave me advice that got me out of Vegas and kept me moving on to my next career or I might now be the oldest show girl in Las Vegas.
WYAT: And you did have a lot of other adventures in entertainment, like you were in a band in Italy.
Peterson: It was a great experience. I love Italy, and I got to tour around. People ask me if I've been to this town or that town in Italy and I say, 'Yes, I've been to that town.' We traveled every day to different towns to play. I saw Italy, I learned to speak Italian, and I had a fantastic time, and I got paid for it which was great.
WYAT: How was the food?
Peterson: I probably weighed twenty pounds more than I weigh now. They have the greatest food there.
WYAT: Eventually you got the role of Elvira and you were tasked with making the look and the personality of the character. What inspired you for the costume?
Peterson: The costume I have to give credit to one of my best friends who has since passed away, his name is Robert Redding, and he was in a band with me that I had before I did Elvira called Mama's Boys. And he was an amazing artist and singer, kind of a Renaissance man. When I got the part of Elvira, they told me to come up with a spooky look. Robert and I sat down and he drew some sketches of what he thought it should look like. Originally it was very different; it was a long, sheer, tattered dress with long red hair, pale lips, and black around the eyes like a ghost. We sort of based it on Sharon Tate in the film The Vampire Killers. Then they said, 'No, no, it has to be all black; everything has to be black.' We went back to the drawing board, and Robert came up with that outfit; we tried to make it as completely sexy as we could get away with, and it was a bit of a shock when they said I could wear it. They actually said, 'Can we make the slit on the leg a little higher?' Anything for ratings on a local TV station! He also got the hairstyle from his very favorite singer in the world: Ronnie Spector from The Ronnettes. The makeup he got out of Kabuki Theater. He put all those together, he drew a picture, we took them to them, and, surprisingly, they said yes. Then we had it all made.
WYAT: It seems like ever since you stopped doing that show that there's been a lack of horror movie hosts. There used to be Vampira, locally we had Dr. Morgus. Do you think there's a need for a horror film show with a great host?
Peterson: I do absolutely. It's such a tradition since I've been a kid in the 1950s; there were horror hosts all over the country, everybody grew up with them. There really is a tradition that's fading away because of the difficulty in getting movies. It's not like how it used to be where local TV stations bought a big slew of movies for pennies. Nowadays, you have to get the rights to air the movies; it's really expensive. However, there is kind of a resurgence online. There are several really good ones popping up online. People doing it themselves, probably getting the movies illegally, I don't know. Now, with places like Hulu, they do have access to more movies. So I hope to see the tradition reenergize itself and make a comeback.
WYAT: Being an expert in horror films, what do you think of horror films and horror drama shows today?
Peterson: I like a lot of the horror drama series like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead, they're really amazing quality, like film. Truly better than the films from the 50s and 60s that I generally hosted. As far as films in theaters, I think there's been a dearth of really good horror films out there for a while. I think they've gone more towards slasher movies which I have always been very against. The real fantasy horror movies that contain an element of fantasy, like vampires or ghosts, there just aren't that many out there. There have been a few good ones; Paranormal Activity was great, The Conjuring, a few different movies that don't involve a psycho chopping women up. I can't deal with that, and I don't even call that horror.