Quantcast ELVIRA interview

OwwwOOOO!!! It's Elvira! The original lady of the evening, er, I mean "Mistress of the Dark" has got her own reality show, "The Search for the Next Elvira", where she's looking to find the first recruit for a potential Army of Elviras. Not to fret, the boobalicious boo-maker isn't hanging up the wig and dress just yet, she's just looking for a few helping hands during the Halloween season. Icons recently participated in a roundtable discussion with the demonic diva herself, and I'm sure you'll see there's more to her than just a few choice assets! - by Mike C. 10/07

Arrow in the Head:

Q: As per the reality show what exactly will the handmaiden that you're choosing be doing? What will her service be?

Elvira: She will be doing some of the overflow that I get for Halloween, because every Halloween I get hundreds of requests to appear at people’s haunted houses, or at shopping malls, haunted venues, theme parks. Obviously there's only one me, so I'm not able to get to many of them. I pick the ones for all the big bucks, ya know, and all these poor other little venues go beggin'. So I thought if I had another Elvira, or eventually, an entire army of Elvira clones, they could go and make these appearances at shopping malls to pose with fans, sign autographs and take pictures. That's what she'll be doing.
Q: How did this project evolve at Fox?

A: Well, I got this idea a couple years ago and my main goal was to find another Elvira to take over some of these jobs. Then we came up with the idea, myself and management, to make a television show out of it because we thought that would be an interesting process to try to find another Elvira or Elvira's evil handmaiden. So we shopped it around, Fox really liked the idea of doing a mini-series during the month of Halloween, and that's how it ended up there.

Q: If you could pinpoint the best moment in your career what would it be?

A: I think the real peak came when my movie, “ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK” came out and that was around 1989, and at the same time I was representing Coors beer's national ad campaign. The movie really changed me from just a television star to an actress. It was a big, big deal that year. I'd say that was kind of the height of it. I hope to reach those heights again.


Q: You've been doing this character for such a long, long time now. What's it going to be like for you with someone sort of stepping into the role?

A: I think it'll be a big relief, actually, at this point. I mean, I've looked at Santa Clause for many years with a lot of envy in my eyes because he gets to pick up all the gigs. I’ve just been thinking, oh my gosh, the character has become such a pop-culture icon and so closely associated with Halloween that I just can't get the character out there enough like Santa Clause does. He's in every town and city every year for Christmas, I'm unable to get the character out there as much. It's just me. One venue here, one venue there. So at this point I think it's going to be fantastic to see another Elvira out there. Actually, during the process of the show, it was fantastic to see some of these girls who've watched me since they were little girls really “get it”, who love it. They've got the Elvira thing down, so for me it's flattering. I love the fact that they'll be someone else who's kind of young, perky, and gets it.


Q: Now that you'll be sharing your Elvira duties will you have more time to dedicate to other projects. Will you be exploring opportunities with feature length film, or recording or anything that we can hope to see in the future?

A: Yea, I'm working on a lot of really great projects right now and they are big, long-term projects that I hope to get going in the next year. I think that instead of things calming down while having more Elvira's out there they're actually speeding up. I'm getting a real big Team Elvira together for Elvira Inc, and I eventually see Elvira being the “Martha Stewart of the Macabre”, having your own website that sells all things spooky.

And I'm working on a very large project, just beginning, that would be an animated Elvira feature. So yea, I don't think having more Elvira's is going to slow it down, unfortunately. I'll be so busy training them at Boob Camp, I mean, Boot Camp, I won't have time to do anything else.

Q: You know, obviously talent, personality, and looks are all very important, but with each candidate where you looking for something more specific? What was the outweighing factor, if any?

A: Well, there is a certain body type that you do have to have. I mean, if you're going to play Santa Claus you have to be fat, if you're gonna play Spider-Man you have to have some muscles. If you want to be Elvira you have to have a couple of, uh, special assets. So there was the body thing, but more than the body thing, that was maybe a third of the equation. The more important [aspects] of the equation were did they get the humor behind it, did they have a sense of humor, were they kind of sassy and were they into horror, Halloween, and the whole spooky side.
There are three elements that comprise Elvira and make her unique in the horror genre and that is: Sexy, Funny, and Spooky. So they had to have all of those things. It wasn't as easy as finding a girl with big boobs, you know? We could go to Hooters and get us a bunch of them. It was more complicated than that. We saw a few girls that I loved, I adored, they looked so perfect but they just did not get the humor thing. There's the fear factor too, because in my career I've had to do things like lay around on the ground with a 150 snakes, be buried in a coffin for hours on end. The girls have to be able to do a little bit of that stuff, because after all they're going to be Elvira.
Q: On the show will be actually see those girls go through those “Fear Factor” moments?

A: Oh yes, you definitely will. There are all kinds of challenges for them. They also have to be great entrepreneurs because obviously I've built up kind of a merchandising and licensing industry and the girls have to be able to “Sell, sell, sell!”. So there's a lot of tests and challenges they have to go through. It's pretty damn wacky, even I was shocked when I saw some of it, and it takes a lot to shock me.

House of Horrors:

Q: Will they all have that trademark Elvira look, will they all look like mini-Cassandra Petersons or are they going to have their own look and personality?

A: No, they are going to look like Elvira. That was a little confusing in the beginning because we wanted them to show up with their unique character, and their own unique look to see if they really got it. So they started out that way, but they slowly and surely will turn into an identical twin of Elvira.

Q: How many weeks does this whole thing take to shoot?

A: Well, we started a big audition on Friday the 13th in July and we shot 5 or 6 times and we do our last shoot right before Halloween, it'll be the final show. The week before the audience will actually participate in picking the last of the three left-over participants, then Halloween the last episode will air. That will be when you find out which one becomes the next Elvira. Now, just to clear up confusion, it's not to replace Elvira, it's to create an additional Elvira, but the wording was kind of difficult because “Search For The Additional Elvira” just doesn't have a catchy ring to it.
Q: I like how you compare it to the Santa Claus, you can go to any mall and see a Santa...

A: Yea, this only dawned on me a few years ago when I started noticing that every time I went to do appearances 45-50% of the crowd would come up to me and say, “Are you the real Elvira?”. At first I would be slightly insulted, and be like, “Yea! Hello?!” And pretty soon I got, “Hey, wait a minute, I think this is a good thing.” Generally it'd be somebody under the age of 30, and they're talking about me like I am Santa Claus. I don't know that to them they know there is a “real” Elvira, to them it's a character, an icon.

Icons of Fright:

Q: What are some of the criteria on which the contestants will be judged each week?

A: Well, there are a lot of different criteria like I said, there's not just the booby factor, you know. More importantly they have to be comfortable with all things spooky, like laying in a coffin, or handling spiders, whatever might come up. They have to be able to deal with guys, that's one of the most important things. Elvira's pretty much an expert at handling men so to speak. They have to have certain gene c'est quoi when it comes to guys. And they have to be entrepreneurs, they have to be able to sell products and have a certain business sense, but most of all have a sense of humor and a love of the macabre. There's a lot of different things they have to be judged on, if I could have just picked the greatest looking girl I'd have had hundreds to choose from.

Q: How was working with your co-judges, Kane Hodder and Rick Baker?

A: Well they were just great to work with, they were funny, they had really good insight. They get my character, they so get it. Which is great because they've been working in the horror genre for years, almost as many as I have. They totally got it, and I was really relieved to see that because I wasn't 100 percent sure. I adore both of them, but I was thinking “Are they really going to get that Elvira is about more than just the boobs?”, because you know they are straight guys and everything. But you know, they were judging more on the other attributes than even I was. They added a lot. They brought up some really interesting points that really, really helped me out. And they’re funny too! They both have good senses of humor.

Q: Why do you think 25 years on the character has endured to the point where you're still in such demand?

A: I'm pretty much sure it has endured because of the Halloween season, I think Elvira has become closely linked to the holiday and every year it comes back and there's Elvira all over the airwaves, the appearances. I took a sabbatical for a while. When I had my daughter I slowed down my career a great deal and that was for 10 years to raise my daughter and not be constantly working. I kind of went into a lull there but I never stopped, every Halloween, doing major appearances. And because horror never goes away. The horror genre is still around I've become known as kind of a maven of horror. There's a real old dirth of horror characters now. Some of the greats have passed on, the Vincent Prices, the John Carradines, and they've left a hole there and I'm one of those endearing kind of characters that are still around.

Q: And this character never was at all a burden for you?

A: Just when I have to get ready for an appearance, that's all! But no, it hasn't been because it's very different for me than it is for other characters. Say if you've been in a Star Wars or a Star Trek, one of those actors, the big difference between them and me is that their character is owned by a television or film studio. I own my character 100%. So when they work they get a percentage of what it might be, and when I work I get all of the money and I am also free to license it, merchandise it, whatever. So it's never become a burden because it's my entire livelihood. People might say, “Why don't you do something else” but why on earth would I do that? I'd be working for a network or television studio and getting an acting fee and then “bye-bye”. So it's more than just acting for me, it's also running a fairly large company.

LA Valley News:

Q: Why do you think you are so big in the gay and lesbian community?

A: There's a lot of different reasons, really. One of the reasons is that gays really appreciate strong, powerful women who are both sexy and strong, as opposed to, you know, little Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, with no, you know, cojones. Gays really appreciate strong women who still have sex appeal and are just willing to get out there and sell it. And they have a thing about one name people too, you know Madonna, Cher, Elvira. It's weird, but in a way those sexual but strong women are very androgynous in a different way than someone like David Bowie. They're androgynous in a way that they're real sexy but they don't cave in and become girly-girls. And gays, whether they're male or female also share that sense of androgyny, and that's why they share that little bond. Hard to explain!
Q: Now with more of Movie Macabre coming out on DVD, what do you feel when you rewatch those?

A: Oh God, sometimes they give me a real laugh. I laugh so hard at myself I cry. Some are embarrassing, there's a few really early ones that I could just die of embarrassment, I mean my hair is flat and I'm talking so slow that I just sit in front of the TV going “talk faster, talk faster!” As the years go by my hair gets higher and my voice speeds up, and around '83 I hit my “Elvira Stride”. So the stuff before '83 makes me cringe. I can actually tell what year it is by how high my hair is. My hair got so high in '85 that I started looking like Marge Simpson and I had to calm it down and come back a little ways. Just kept getting higher and higher and higher until I was like, oh my God, a giant cone head. Then it came down to a happy medium where it stayed.
Q: How involved were you in picking the [reissued] films?

A: Well...there wasn't much pickin' involved. I have all the wraparounds to over 300 films that I did on my local TV show and syndicated TV show, about 350 really. What I did was give Shout! Factory a list of those films and they went out with the very tedious job of trying to track down those films which are either unfindable, owned by someone else or you find one of them that the title has changed, or scenes have been taken out or added. Very, very daunting for them to find an intact version of the film of quality that can actually be aired. So our initial thing was to try to release 100 films, then the reality of actually getting the films was...really depressing. So we came out with 6 last year and another 6 this year, and they're continuing on the path to find these films intact. Even if they're public domain, which a lot of them have become now, you can't find them. Then when you do, well, someone's cut a chunk out of the middle, it's gone. It's really, really bad.


Q: You mentioned a possible Elvira animated feature, would this be the 3rd installment of an unholy trilogy or can we look forward to another live action film in the future?

A: I don't know, I am going to be going out after Halloween and pitching a live-action movie that I sold at one time to the people who produced the first two “Rocky” shows, then they went bust. I wrote this movie, I sold it to them, got paid thank God (quite a bit of money) and then they went down the tubes. So I have this script and I am going to go around and see about getting a deal with that. It's separate; it doesn't really have a story line from the first. My main goal is to get this animated feature going, and it could be years since animation takes so much time to put together. I'm working on all that stuff.

Q: You mentioned a lot of the appearances you've made over the years. What was your most memorable appearance that you've made?

A: Oh, god...

Q: Or strangest?

A: Well, meeting Michael Jackson was pretty damn memorable and strange. He was going, “Oh Elvira, I should have hired you instead of Vincent Price to do the voice over.” Um, yeah thanks! I don't know, being in the Rose Parade was pretty damn strange, being on my own float for the Post Office. I mean, it is the biggest most televised parade in the world. Ringing the closing bell at the NY Stock Market was pretty weird. Introducing Bono on the Zoo Tour was pretty cool and bizarre. I've had a lot of really, really unusual and strange moments. Like the first time somebody asked me to autograph their arm to go tattoo it in.
They came back the next day with a bloody old patch on their arm. I was, like “Wow, that's the most sincerest form of flattery”. Now that's old hat, I have hundreds and hundreds of people with Elvira images tattooed on their body. I saw three of them yesterday at Hot Topic. (I'm representing Hot Topic, by the way, at Halloween this year. They're kind of my peeps over there at Hot Topic.) There's just been so many strange bizarre things, meeting every celebrity you can think of. I've been around for so long that I really have met every person who ever lived. I sound like Methuselah or something but when you have been in show business for 25 years, and most people don't end up in show business for 25 years, I think the average is 5 years, you really do end up meeting every person you wanted to.

Q: Are there any other things you're involved in that fans of Elvira should check out?

Yea, well, I mentioned Hot Topic and representing them, and having a whole new line of T-shirts in their stores, and doing all their ads in the store this year. Mattel is making a one-of-a-kind Elvira Barbie that will be revealed at Dream Halloween, which is a big fundraiser for children's AIDS charities. That will be on the 27 th of this month and I'm pretty happy to become a Barbie. I have the DVDs and my TV show and lots of merchandise coming out. You can now even have Elvira checks, if you want your checks to have Elvira on them.


Q: Will there be any training for the new Elvira, will they work with improv coaches or anything?

A: Well, it's kind of got to be on their own. They have to come up with it, they either have it or they don't, unfortunately because of time. We didn't have time to really train the girls and send them to “boob camp”, that will be something we do after. The girl we choose will hopefully be 90% there already and we'll polish her. I would really eventually love to have 10, 20, 30 Elvira's that go to shopping malls and sit on a throne and take pictures with people who come up during the month of October. I know when I go places, for example, when I was at Hot Topic I took pictures with 700 people in one afternoon. My retinas are still fried.
So, you know, I noticed one funny thing in our show (I won't give away too much) but the girls have to go out to a major theme park and kind of try out their entrepreneurial skills. There are a million tourists there and they are flocking these girls, and they're not even “all the way Elvira’s” yet, they're “semi-Elvira’s” and everybody is coming up them asking for pictures and autographs. It's like when you're on Hollywood and there's Spider-Man and Shrek, people running up taking pictures and asking for autographs. They have to know they're not the real ones, so I think it's going to work that way. I mean the people who know will know, but to 90% of the people if they look like Elvira, they're Elvira.

Q: So is there any chance of Movie Macabre making a comeback?

A: I try, you know I pitch that and I pitch that, and you know what the problem is? Getting the movies, the kind that I really want to use. I do have something coming up on the internet, it'll be on a site called Joost and there will be movies on there. That's probably going to be after Halloween the way it's going. It'll be a little similar to that. I'm still trying to get a television show where I can host those movies because that's what I really love to do. It's just always been a problem with getting the movies. They've come expensive and hard to find. I mean, people have them out there, but then they belong in a package that's owned by MGM and if you buy three horror movies you might get 20 cowboy movies with it. So you end up spending a half-million dollars on 75 movies you don't need. So it's a big problem, it makes a show that's really inexpensive to shoot become very, very expensive.

Luckily the television station I worked for was owned by RKO, and they had a huge library of old horror films. They have since disappeared and sold those films and they've scattered to the wind. But at that time we just lucked out, and they had the rights to play them. I mean, they are around here and there but you have to buy a package. People say “Oh well I've seen them on TV” and I know, but that means someone spent $500,000 on a package with however many movies.

And What Does Elvira's daughter think of all this?

Click HERE to find out!

Visit: Elvira.com
Or Elvira's My Space: www.myspace.com/2macabre 

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