Book Review: Yours Cruelly, Elvira

Yours Cruelly, Elvira
Published by Hachette Books, 2021.284 pages.
By Cassandra Peterson

You couldn’t be a horror fan from the ‘80s until now and not know who Elvira is. Sure, while she was always great to look at, as you get past those teenage boy thoughts, you start to realize just how smart and talented the woman behind the makeup and wig is. I was a fan of her since those Thriller Video days, back when trips to the video stores were a weekly thing. I was excited when her first movie came out and laughed quite a bit at the not-so-subtle jokes in there. I’ve met her a few times at different conventions over the years, both as Elvira and as Cassandra, and was always amazed at how funny she was and connected to her fans.

So yeah, a big fan.

When her biography was announced, I quickly pre-ordered it because this was the first time we were really going to hear about the woman behind Elvira. Once I finally got it, it was one of those instances where I just picked it up browse through the photos knowing I would get to it at some point. Next thing I know, I’m 90 pages in! I finished the entire book in about 3 sittings because it was a very easy read but more importantly, we got to hear Cassandra’s story. We learn how she got her start, go-go dancing while she was still underage, going from being a rock band groupie to becoming a Vegas showgirl, to becoming the famous Mistress of the Dark, not to mention the ton of famous people she met along the way.

Throughout the book, Peterson is open and honest about her life, from her parents and the abuse they delt out, which sadly was considered normal back then, to her personal love life, to all the careers that she’s had, going from being successful to poor, and everything in between. We learn how this strong woman persevered, becoming involved with many charities, and making Elvira more than just a pair of boobs.

There are plenty of people she mentions throughout the book, but I didn’t take it as famous name dropping because at times, she was just in awe of them as we are reading. She also reveals some of the darker side of that fame that tends to get hidden from the public, or at least more than it is today.

Yes, she does discuss her current relationship near the end of the book that she kept secret for the longest time because she was afraid it would hurt the Elvira name. I’m so glad she did relate it now because hopefully she can see that fans today have a much more understanding of people than 20 years ago. At least I hope so. Nonetheless, one of my favorite parts of the book, near the end, after saying that when she decided to come out, she wrote this:

“If something as personal as my private relationship causes some fans to no longer enjoy my work, or if a company chooses not to work with me because of it – well, all I can say is, “Fuck ‘em.” That’s their problem.”

Kudos to her for that statement alone. Hopefully everyone out there, on both sides of the fandom, can get past little things like that and let people be who they are, and celebrate them for that!

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