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A Vamp on the Mystery of Elvira

'But it's really the bra that's the secret to the whole gown. . . . It defies gravity.'

October 29, 1998|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

To fans, she is a voluptuous, vampy vixen who sweeps into Halloween in high heels, hellbent on fun. But to us fashion freaks from the dark side of designerville, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, is one glammed-up gothic goddess.

You go, ghoul!

Tattooed and too cool for words, Elvira--who appears at Knott's Scary Farm this weekend--knows how to work every detail of her wicked wardrobe, every strand of her jiffy-popped hair and every atomic inch of her exposed skin.

How does she (Cassandra Peterson in real life) do it? That look. That style. That cleavage.

Question: Women, so they tell me, are fascinated by your gown and men by its contents. How do you do that thing that you do, and I don't mean Tom Hanks.

Answer: Oh, honey, I have one word for you: polyester. It really holds you in, know what I mean? But it's really the bra that's the secret to the whole gown. It's made of industrial-strength metal wiring. It's probably one of the technological wonders of the world. It defies gravity. I have about six gowns in various lengths, including one for photos, one with a really long train and one with a practical length for when I'm tramping around going trick-or-treating.

Q: What is your definition of vamp?

A: To vamp is to be sexy, glamorous and a bit naughtier than the average glamour girl. Let's face it, a vamp is practically related--by blood, of course--to a diva. And a vamp always knows what she's doing at all times. That's why she's in control.

Q: If you were running a vamp camp, who would be your counselors?

A: Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page. All the so-called sexy girls today are so plain, except for Madonna and Grace Jones.

Q: How do you keep deodorant from smearing white onto your black gown?

A: My problem isn't deodorant. The big problem is how do we girls keep from smudging makeup all over our dresses. It just smears all over the place. But that's the beauty of polyester. It washes off.

Q: How should a vamp accessorize?

A: Leather and studs, big boy. It's the only way to go. And a red ruby ring and silver snake earrings. And always, always wear the 1950s pointed toe, stiletto black heels. No imitations accepted.

Q: How does one get that bewitching hairdo?

A: You rat the hell out of it, darling. And then you spray on tons of old-fashioned Aqua Net. I have to apologize to the ozone layer, but nothing else will do. It's a miracle spray.

Q: Can any mortal woman achieve vamptitude?

A: Only if she's into suffering. The Elvira look is all about suffering. That--and vanity. I realized one day that my entire look is made up of the most tortuous things that women nowadays very seldom wear--and that men love to see women in.

Q: Such as?

A: When you're in my drag, you are in pain all the time: 6-inch heels, a waist pulled in almost 4 inches, a bra fit for a Hummer, tons of makeup, blood-red lipstick, false eyelashes. Guys love it, and women hate to do it. Well, except for moi.

Q: How do you see yourself in the eternal circle of horror beauties?

A: I'm right up there at the top with Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman, except much more glamorous and quite a bit less hairy.

Q: What turns you on most about Halloween?

A: It's really the best holiday because I don't have to buy anyone gifts and I don't have to cook any dinners for relatives.

Q: You know, Los Angeles is the vampire capital of the world. Have you met any real vampires?

A: Many, many, many times. My agent, my accountant, my manager--just kidding, fellas.

Q: You've done it all: a movie, television, records, a Web site. You're the queen of all media. So what's next?

A: I'll be in the Rose Parade on New Year's Day, riding on the U.S. Postal Service float in a tribute to horror icons. You know they're on stamps these days. Talk about going postal.

Q: And finally, tell me what you really think about that other woman--Cassandra--in your life?

A: What is there to say? She's a wife. She's a mother. She seems nice enough but . . . booooooring!

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