Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is the true definition of the term “living legend.” Think I’m exaggerating? How many celebrities get to embody an entire time of year like Elvira does? Our fair Mistress here is to the Halloween season what Santa Claus is to Christmas—only she’s an actual, real, live person (uh, spoiler alert?). Well, the actress beneath the wig—Cassandra Peterson—is; Elvira on the other hand is an ageless icon. While the rest of us have crept along this mortal coil over the past thirty plus years since she made her debut, she looks exactly the same, as was evidenced during her live show, Elvira’s Asylum.
This year’s show was pretty much in the same vein of Elvira’s previous Halloween shows at Knott’s—although this time she’s giving the audience a little bit more of what they want. Which is to say: more Elvira. While past years have had Elvira acting as more of a host—letting her dancers do most of the work in the (always way too brief) half hour show—this year she gave the audience more of what they really came to see.
Since the theme this year is Asylum, (last year was carnival, which shows that Elvira is very in tune with the producers of American Horror Story) the pre-show featured video footage of the inmates, who later appeared on stage in a choreographed dance number set to the band Disturbed’s song ‘Asylum,’ eventually making way for Elvira herself to make her grand entrance. She appeared on stage fitted out in a sexy nurse outfit (whatever occupation Elvira is going to be handling, rest assured it will be a “sexy” version) and got to work. “I’m wearing this nurse outfit tonight because it’s the only way I can give total strangers unauthorized sponge baths” she quipped. And from there, the double entendre puns came flying fast and furious, and her first song was, of course, all about her ample cleavage.
When she’s not singing about her boobs, she’s making jokes about them—like when she returned to the stage after her first act-break, rolled out on a cart with a corpse on it. “When you call Uber, you take what you can get, but this is ridiculous. Good thing I come with my own air bags,” she joked. When not bringing attention to her cleavage or making sexual puns worthy of your dad, she took several pot shots at celebs ranging from Paula Deen and Donald Trump to “oh, she went there!” Bill Cosby. But it isn’t that what we want from Elvira, to “go there” and be inappropriate?
For a bit of context: back in 1981, Peterson took a $300 a week job hosting cheesy old horror movies on a local Los Angeles TV station, and within a year had her show syndicated nationwide. By the end of that decade, she’d taken her “Morticia Addams meets valley girl” persona to whole new levels; the “Hostess with the mostest” had become a household name. On a personal level, her TV show Movie Macabre taught an 8-year-old version of me what camp humor was, and how to appreciate something for being “so bad it’s good” a decade before I’d even heard of John Waters or saw the movie Showgirls.
In between costume changes, we’re treated to a very talented young female aerialist—easily the best non-Elvira part of the show. While Elvira’s (mostly male) dancer were more than decent, it was definitely the aerialist who robbed them of a bit of their thunder.
Elvira’s the sort of icon that’ll never go out of style—not even after California theme park Knott’s Berry Farm ended her annual song and dance Halloween comedy show in order to move into a more “family friendly” direction in 2001. Rightfully, those shows never get the traction that Elvira got and in 2012, she returned to Knott’s annual Halloween festivities and has been around again ever since.
Elvira’s Asylum is exactly what you want from an Elvira show, and pretty much my only other complaint is that there’s not more Elvira in it, and that I wish the show was longer. If you’re going to Knott’s Halloween Haunt and you don’t see it, you’re missing out. Because there are really only minor differences betweens this scary maze and that other scary maze, but really, there’s only one Elvira. And you just never know when she’s going to make good on those threats to retire and do it for real.
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Image Credit: Panacea Entertainment