Cassandra Peterson, who has played the character Elvira Mistress of the Dark since the early 1980s, came out in her new memoir, released yesterday, discussing her 19-year relationship with a woman.
“Often, when I was doing my preworkout warm-up on the treadmill, 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 in Yours Cruelly, Elvira. “Dark and brooding, he gave off such intense energy that when he crossed the enormous gym floor, the waters parted and people stopped in their tracks to stare.”
Then she ran into the trainer in the women’s restroom and learned that she was in fact a “beautiful, androgynous creature” named Teresa “T” Wierson.
Peterson and Wierson became close friends while she was still married to Mark Pierson. When her 25-year marriage to him ended in 2003, she grew closer to Wierson.
And then Wierson needed a place to stay.
“There on the doorstep stood my trainer, T, holding a trash bag full of her belongings, looking sad and bedraggled,” Peterson wrote. “She’d split from her longtime partner, spent some time in rehab, and now had no place to go.”
Peterson wrote that Wierson helped her raise her daughter and “instead of being a burden, having T around was a huge relief.” And it was Peterson who made the first move; one night they were going to bed and “I told her goodnight and suddenly felt compelled to kiss her — on the mouth.”
“I think I was even more surprised,” she wrote. “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. I soon discovered that we connected sexually in a way I’d never experienced.”
The two women have been in a relationship ever since, although Peterson never discussed it publicly, worried how it would affect her career.
“Would my fans hate me for not being what they expected me to be? I’m very aware that there will be some who will be disappointed and maybe even angry, but I have to live with myself, and at this point in my life, I’ve got to be truthful about who I am,” she wrote.
“For the first time in my life, I’m with someone who makes me feel safe, blessed, and truly loved.”
She has not said how she identifies, but she stated that she is “no longer living the ‘straight life.'”
Peterson has a long history with LGBTQ people and culture. In the 1970s, she worked as a drag queen at a gay bar in Colorado Springs and later said that drag helped inspire her iconic character Elvira.
“I grew up emulating drag queens, and I was around a lot of drag queens when I was a pre-teen and teenager,” she told Promosexual in 2009. “They really showed me how to walk, to dress, to do everything I do. I think that’s how I ended up being a showgirl by the time I was 17! I had all this drag sort of demeanor. What happened, eventually, is I find drag queens are emulating me. It’s so bizarre.”
“It’s not surprising to me because I always tell people I was ‘raised by a pack of wild drag queens.’ I was around so many drag queens and gay men when I was young.”