Elvira Would Be A Therapist if She Wasn’t The Mistress of the Dark

Published October 31, 2019

Photo by David Goldner. Art by Mark Burger.

Elvira—actress, horror movie hostess, and Mistress of the Dark—hasn’t had a Halloween off in years. But, according to her, the holiday is really a 365-day-long celebration. Between making appearances at horror conventions and collaborating with Kim Petras on the singer’s Halloween-themed album Turn Off The Lights, the Mistress of Evil stays booked and blessed–er, cursed, if you will. In between tricks and treats, Interview caught up with Elvira to ask her about her very first Halloween costume, her favorite non-Halloween Halloween movies, and why she’d be a therapist, if if she wasn’t already raising spirits around the world.

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MARK BURGER: How’s your head? 

ELVIRA: [Laughs.] Haven’t had any complaints lately. 

BURGER: How often do you get asked that? 

ELVIRA: Fairly often, but I love it. I’m glad people remember these lines from the movie. I’ve become kind of iconic, so it’s always a thrill. 

BURGER: What do you think, in your opinion, is the most underrated scary movie? Or one you wish more people paid attention to?

ELVIRA: The only one I can think of that nobody pays attention to is my movie, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. They’ll never pay enough attention to that, no matter how much they say. 

BURGER: What was the first costume you remember dressing up as for Halloween?

ELVIRA: When I was putting my Coffin Table book together, my mother sent me a picture of me in my very first Halloween costume. She’d asked me what I wanted to be for Halloween, and I said “the Queen of Halloween.”

BURGER: How old were you?

ELVIRA: Five years old, that’s what I wanted to be. Pretty creepy, right? When she sent it to me, I said, “You’re kidding me.” She goes, “Nope. So I made you this crown and scepter out of orange and black crepe paper.” 

BURGER: Maybe it was destiny calling you from that moment. 

ELVIRA: I guess, right? There’s a lot of other costumes I could’ve asked for. Good thing I picked that one. 

BURGER: Was there ever a costume that you wanted to be, but your mom was like, “Oh no, I’m not buying you that costume”? Or was she always supportive? 

ELVIRA: My mom and my aunt own a costume shop. I dressed up as everything you could possibly imagine. If there was a happening TV show on, they made me the costume. I was Morticia Addams, I was Samantha from Bewitched, I was I Dream of Jeannie. Even Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. They never refused any costume. There was nothing too sexy or too strange for my mom and my aunt to make me that costume. I never got turned down.

BURGER: Do you have a favorite non-Halloween Halloween movie?

Elvira: Hmm. I guess Planet 9 from Outer Space, or Glen and Glenda. They have a certain Halloween flair, but they’re not really certainly meant to be Halloween movies. But they are scary.

BURGER: What was the last movie that you watched?

ELVIRA: Man, I haven’t watched a movie in a while, because it’s Halloween and I do nothing but work for the last three months. But I think the last movie I saw was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. And I loved it. I would go back to see that 100 times. 

BURGER: You worked with Kim Petras on her Halloween album. How did that come together? 

ELVIRA: They just called me up and said Kim was a big fan, and she would love me to be a part of the song. I never actually got to meet her. We spoke via texts. Just kind of called up out of the blue and asked me to do it. I thought it was a really fun project, and I listen to a lot of her music and like that whole vibe.

BURGER: Did you write that whole speech yourself? It’s very Thriller-sounding.

ELVIRA: No, I have to credit them. They came up with that, and I really liked it. I get asked to do a lot of Thriller-type things. It’s so odd. You know, I was actually asked to do Thriller instead of Vincent Price. 

BURGER: Really?

ELVIRA: It turned out that Vincent Price’s wife was a really good friend of Quincy Jones’s wife, and they went with Vincent Price instead.

BURGER: What’s your favorite Halloween activity? 

ELVIRA: If I didn’t have to work on Halloween, I think my favorite activity would be–this sounds so lame–but I love staying home and handing out candy to kids. I love it. I miss it. I love seeing the little kids in costumes, and they’re so adorable. I really loved trick-or-treating when I was a little kid. What’s better than going to people’s houses and getting free stuff, you know? 

BURGER: What’s the best trick-or-treat thing to give out?

ELVIRA: Well, I would like to use it as an opportunity to clean out my closets and my cupboards, and just give away old 8-tracks of Donny and Marie. Maybe old cans of tuna that have expired. Things like that, so it’s two-in-one. It’s like a treat-or-treat, but it’s also get rid of all your old crap. Or money. Money is good. That would be the treat I’d like to get the most. 

BURGER: Right? I would love a check dropped in the basket. 

ELVIRA: Yeah, exactly. That you can fill out.

BURGER: Do you think there’s a Halloween activity that’s overrated?

ELVIRA: Well, bobbing for apples is bad, because of all the razor blades, but I don’t know. What else do you do on Halloween besides trick-or-treat and dress up like a fool? 

BURGER: I love the idea of carving a pumpkin, but then I get into scraping out all the goo, and I start to question my choices.

ELVIRA: Yeah, I would say it’s so much easier just to get a pumpkin and draw a face on it with some magic markers. I did it when my child was small, just so they could have the experience, but good heavens, no. Too much of a mess. Too nightmarish. I can’t deal with it.

BURGER:  What’s your favorite part about touring and seeing all the fans? I imagine lots of them dress up for the occasion? 

ELVIRA: Oh, they do, let me tell you. But for me, Halloween really is kind of 365 days a year. I’m not kidding. Every appearance I go to, there are people dressed up. A lot of them as me, and a lot of them as just all kinds of crazy characters, because I attend tons of horror conventions. But really, my favorite part is meeting the fans, and seeing what they come up with and hearing their stories about their Halloween, and about me and how I influenced them. And finding out that they still grew up to be semi-normal. 

BURGER: What’s the craziest costume or meet-and-greet experience that you can remember? 

ELVIRA: I have some doozies. It used to be people with tattoos of me on their body, but now, that’s just like everyday, ho-hum, yawn, because I’ve seen literally hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of myself with people’s tattoos of me. But it depends where they put the tattoo.

BURGER: What is the weirdest one, or the one where you think, “Okay, interesting placement”?

ELVIRA: There’s been a couple guys who dropped their pants right there in line and show me their tattoos. It’s like, “Oh my god, my nose is so big, but my boobs look great.” 

BURGER: I can imagine it’s a little intimidating, because what if the tattoo looks better than you?

ELVIRA: Oh, I’d have to quit. I’d find another career.

BURGER: What would you do if you weren’t doing what you do now? If you could have any job, they’ll hire you tomorrow, what would you be?

ELVIRA: Something where I don’t have to talk all the time. Maybe a psychotherapist. Oh, wouldn’t that be great? And you get to sit down all the time. You could even sleep, if you wore sunglasses. I actually have some glasses with my eyes painted on them that I could wear. 

BURGER: Even better. 

ELVIRA: I think it’d be relaxing. You get to hear all kinds of crazy crap, and nod, and then you could give good advice, which I love to do. I’m an expert at that. 

BURGER: What’s your favorite advice to give to people? 

ELVIRA: Let’s see, my favorite advice is, usually when people come and tell me that they’re getting married, I say, “Don’t do it.” But if you have something you really want to do, go for your dreams. If I listened to everybody that told me not to do what I wanted to do, I would’ve just jumped in the grave and pulled the dirt over my head. Don’t let anybody stop you.

BURGER: That’s great advice. More people should hear that. 

ELVIRA: I know. That’s why I need to be a therapist.