Elvira comes out: Queen of darkness reveals bisexuality, 19-year relationship in new memoir

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Cassandra Peterson — Photo by Victoria Pearson
Cassandra Peterson — Photo by Victoria Pearson

Halloween came early this year for the Queer community. Cassandra Peterson, the actress behind goth horror icon Elvira, has come out via her newly released memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memories of the Mistress of the Dark.

Image courtesy of Hatchette Books  

In the memoir, released September 21, Peterson revealed she has been partnered with Teresa "T" Wierson since 2002. The two first met at their gym.

"I couldn't help noticing one particular trainer — tan, tattooed, and muscular — stalking across the gym floor, knit cap pulled so low over his long brown hair that it nearly covered his eyes," Peterson wrote of first seeing Wierson in Yours Cruelly. It wasn't until she ran into the trainer in the women's restroom that she realized that Wierson was, in fact, not a man. The two soon became friends.

Following Peterson's separation from then-husband Mark Pierson and Wierson's separation from her long-time partner, the two grew closer as friends, even moving in with each other at one point. All changed one night when Peterson made an unexpected first move after seeing a movie together.

"I told her goodnight and suddenly felt compelled to kiss her — on the mouth. As shocked as she was, I think I was even more surprised," Peterson wrote in Yours Cruelly. "What the hell was I doing? I'd never been interested in women as anything other than friends. I felt so confused. This just wasn't me! I was stunned that I'd been friends with her for so many years and never noticed our chemistry."

The character Elvira originated in 1981 with KHJ-TV's Movie Macabre, a television program showcasing (and lampooning) B-movie horror films. Elvira, the show's "hostess with the mostest," quickly skyrocketed in popularity with her witty and flirty commentary on each episode's feature film. In subsequent years, Elvira went on to have two feature films of her own, a video game series, two more reboots of Movie Macabre, and countless cameos to boot.

While Elvira quickly became a horror sex symbol of the '80s and '90s, attracting many straight male fans in the process, the unashamedly unconforming character also gained a cult following as a Gay icon. Peterson has long been proud of Elvira's status amongst the Queer community and drag queens.

"Growing up I learned everything I knew from drag queens," Peterson told Queerty in 2013. One of her first entertainment gigs was as a go-go dancer in a Colorado Springs Gay bar. "And now I am influencing them."

Why wait until now to come out? Peterson was worried that revealing her relationship with Wierson would negatively impact her career.

"Elvira is a big horndog. She's always after guys, guys are chasing her, and I am the owner of a brand. And I felt I had to protect that brand," Peterson said in a September 23 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment. "When I was married to a man for 25 years, I did not tell anybody I was married and I tried my best to keep that a secret... because I think it would turn off a lot of male fans, you know? So, I just kept my relationships private as I could, just to keep the character intact."

She also clarified that she hasn't necessarily put any labels on her sexuality.
"People call it 'coming out,' and I guess in a way it is," Peterson told Yahoo! Entertainment. "I haven't ever been gay... I fell in love with somebody who I met, who I really loved, and she was a woman."

Luckily for Peterson, netizens across the LGBTQ+ spectrum cheered the revelation and welcomed her with open arms. Yours Cruelly is available now and can be found at local bookstores or via bookshop.org. Her 1988 film, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, is currently available on Hulu.