Cassandra Peterson, 70, is best known for her spooky, sexy character Elvira who hosted and starred in several television programs and movies from the 1980s through 2010s. In her memoir published Tuesday, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark, she’s revealed another side of herself–that she’s had a female partner for 19 years.
In the book Peterson describes how she initially thought that Teresa “T” Wierson was a “tan, tattooed, and muscular” male trainer at her gym with an “intense energy” before realizing Wierson was a woman. The two became friends until one night in 2002 when Wierson showed up on Peterson’s doorstep with a trash bag of her stuff and asked for a place to stay after breaking up with a longtime partner. They bonded going through their separations, as Peterson was divorcing her husband of 25 years.
“I’d never been interested in women as anything other than friends. I felt so confused,” Peterson writes in Yours Cruelly. “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 couple stayed closeted to protect the Elvira brand as Peterson continued to appear as Elvira over the years. She continues to appear in cameos, voice-overs, and as a guest judge on shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race (2012, 2019) and Halloween Wars (2015, 2016, 2019). Wierson now works as Peterson’s assistant.
Earlier this year, Peterson released an Elvira-themed Pride collection of T-shirts, magnets, and other rainbow and black merchandise. She announced in June: “I’ve always said that I was raised by a pack of wild drag queens and since then I’ve definitely raised a few myself! I will always support my friends in the LGBTQ+ community.”
Now, in her memoir, she says she has to be herself: “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 also says she’s found happiness: “For the first time in my life I’m with someone who makes me feel safe, blessed, and truly loved.”