In July 2008, Chicago scary movie TV host Son of Svengoolie aka actor Rich Koz came face-to-face with his funny, fellow graveyard shift personality and West Coast TV host counterpart, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, when the two shared the stage for an event for fans in Rosemont, Ill.
Tonight, Koz, in his Svengoolie character garb, is in Merrillville at Star Plaza Theatre to share the stage with Maestro Kirk Muspratt for the 7:30 p.m. Halloween Holiday Pops Concert with the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. Koz and Elvira's dual identity, actress Cassandra Peterson, are both 62 and both launched their TV gigs and characters at the same time in their careers in 1980.
While fans can catch up with Koz as Svengoolie at tonight's concert for some scary musical fun, we thought we'd do some catching up with the Queen of Screams Elvira and her dual identity Peterson chatting with her by phone from her home in Los Angeles.
Phil: A little bat told me you have an extra reason to celebrate with added congratulations for Halloween 2013.
Elvira: Yes! I have my own line of Elvira costumes and Halloween accessories and Elvira is the No. 1 female costume pick. I'm also busy doing my own live Halloween stage show at California's Knott's Berry Farm amusement park with shows right up until Halloween.
Phil: Ever think of retiring?
Elvira: No, not at all. That sounds way too scary. I actually thought I wanted to retire a few years ago, and I sold my home in LA and moved to Santa Barbara for three years. But I missed working so much, I moved right back to Los Angeles, and I'm happy to be back.
Phil: This next question is for Cassandra, since you are the woman we have to thank for bringing Elvira back from the dead with a revived and busy career. How do you stay so fantastically fit and shapely for Elvira's famous wardrobe of tiny waist sexy gowns?
Cassandra: For many years I was a strict vegetarian. Today, I'm still very careful about my diet, and lean toward mostly fruits and vegetables, with some meat. I also like walking and always workout 30 minutes a day. After I had my daughter Sadie in 1991, it was difficult to get that tiny waist back, but I've managed it and maintained over the years. When I moved up to Santa Barbara, it was for Sadie to finish her school, and I also had lots of time to exercise. But I was so bored. We were both ready to get back to LA.
Phil: Any chance your daughter Sadie would want to step into Elvira's famous high heels some day?
Cassandra: I don't think so. But she is very involved with the business side of Elvira, which is just as important.
Phil: Elvira, one of the last times we chatted when you were in Chicago, we talked about when you spent time here in the Windy City in 2001 promoting your second big feature film "Elvira's Haunted Hills," which you decided to produce independently, shot on location in Romania, and financed with $10 million of your own money. You've said that was an important career lesson, correct?
Elvira: YES! Never use your own money to finance a project. Get investors!
Phil: Cassandra, I've mentioned about Rich Koz and Son of Svengoolie being your fiendishly funny friend here in Chicago. But you also have some fun and famous friends that you spend time with in LA. Are you still close with Paul Reubens who is the man behind the bow-tie of Pee Wee Herman?
Cassandra: Yes, Paul and I go way back to our days of creating stage characters at the LA Groundlings comedy group. We lost touch for a few years, but have recently connected. Just a week or so ago, he came to see my show at Knott's Berry Farm. Someone else, who like Paul, understands what it's like to be connected to a public figure persona, is RuPaul. We were just spending time together this morning, driving around LA and saying how nice it is to be able to be out in public and not have anyone know who you are. It's the best of both worlds. And when you want it, you also get to make every day Halloween! Fans can always see what I'm up to and do some shopping at http://elvira.hostedbywebstore.com/
Phil: Elvira, your classic, vampy image has become instantly recognizable around the world as a favorite media and marketing image. During the past 30 years, have you changed anything about your trademark look? Only my hair honey. As I grew in popularity, so did my hair. It seemed to keep getting higher and higher, especially by the end of the 1980s decade. Now, it's not quite as tall and back under control. It's the only part of me under control. Happy Halloween to you Phil and to all your readers!