Hello darlings… it’s lil’ ole me…
Your “Deadly Diva of Drag” & self proclaimed “Drag Queen of Halloween”…Mistress Azrael. I am proud and privileged to offer you a first-hand review of Elvira’s latest, greatest, and final show at Knott’s Scary Farm 2017 which is absolutely spooktacular!!! What… You wanted more?? Gaah.. Geez… Ok… I guess I’ll say more… (without spoiling it).
First, let me say that “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” has been a staple in my life, as well as Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Haunt, known now simply by most as “Knott’s Scary Farm”, since 1982. Elvira, in my opinion, has always been the glue that held the ghouls together. Her live stage shows were just what “Scary Farm” needed to grab a hold of an audience and make them excited to play in the fog!
Say it with me…”What’s your favorite ride at Knott’s?” ELVIRA!!! To drive this point right in ta ya (grab a tool and start banging), I’ll quote Scary Farm Show Writer and Event Host Jeff Tucker in an excerpt from a piece he wrote for this year’s Collectible Souvenir Booklet, which is a companion to, and is sold as a set with Elvira’s Coffin Table Book. Both books are being sold exclusively in her “Boo-tique” in the park which was conveniently located next to the theater! “In 1982, Knott’s Scary Farm presented the first ‘Elvira Mistress of the Dark’ show in the Ghoul Time Theater. This pairing of the then Ten-Year-Old Halloween Haunt event with Elvira’s sarcastic brand of Valley Girl humor and music parody was a perfect match!”
“Elvira” has engaged audiences in the “Ghoul Time Theater” through most of the 80’s, 90’s and into the new millennium, with her last show being in 2001. Elvira, as her beautiful ‘alter ego” Cassandra Peterson, took a 12 year rest in peace to raise her daughter, create a second (self produced) feature film “Elvira’s Haunted Hills” and continued building her iconic brand as the ultimate “Queen of Halloween”!
In the fall of 2013, Elvira burst back onto the Scary Farm stage with a new stage show “Elvira’s Sinema Seance”, her cup runneth over with a fangtastic floor show and a trip to “Hollywood Hell”! Returning with her to help with some of the writing and to make a special appearance on screen as Elvira’s tormentor “The Breather”, was John Paragon.
Paragon has not only been a long time friend of our beloved mistress since both of their days in the Los Angeles groundlings, but was also a co-writer for “Elvira’s Movie Macabre”, as well as a pivotal part of many of their shows at Knott’s. “The Breather” was never far behind Elvira. Paragon again paired with her famous pair, to co-write the 1988 Feature Film and make a personal appearance in it as the hayseed gas attendant (including a song John wrote that will stick to your ribs… “Chicken Friend Steak”).
The first revival show was far more than amazing. Fans from all over crawled out of their crypts to see her command the creatures of the Scary Farm Stage, and for the first time in the parks history, a select few of 13 ghoulfriends were allowed to come in full Elvira drag to pay tribute to our favorite “Mother, Mistress of the Dark” on the stage for an “Elvira Look-A-Like Content”. I am beyond pleased to say I was one of them. Most of my contestants have stayed in touch as a spooky sisterhood fo the dark known as “Elvira’s Army” for convention appearances, and then returned to Knott’s for a reunion contest in 2016. I’m proud to say I took home the 3rd place “Boobie Prize”!
From here, Elvira has captivated us with 3 additional creepy creations live on stage: “Elvira’s Big Top” c. 2014, “Elvira’s Asylum” c. 2015 and “Elvira’s Danse Macabre” c. 2016.
Most of us thought that 2016 was Elvira’s last show, but mother had another spooktacular surprise up her silky sleeve. “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” a grand finale to celebrate her 35th anniversary performing at Knott’s, as well as a tribute to her first feature film debut of the same name.
All I can say is WOW! This show was EVERYTHING you ever wanted to see her do live. Well, not everything some of you perverts might want to see her do, but certainly all the breast…ummm BEST she has ever offered her fans in film and on stage. “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” was something that was truly not to be missed, but there was one thing that was missing this year, “Elvira’s Meet N Greets” and autograph opportunity at her “Boo-tique”.
On opening night, I was lucky to run into my dear friend and Elvira’s long-time personal assistant, Tere. She explained to me that the reason the signing was cut from this year was simply due to timing. Or rather, the lack there of between shows.
Tere explained, “This show is huge, the biggest and best ever… I won’t spoil it for you, but when you see it, you’ll understand!”Tere also informed me that between Elvira’s 9pm 1st show and 11:30pm 2nd show, Elvira would make some random surprise appearances during Knott’s other live stage show, “The Hanging” at 9:45pm.
Long time Scary Farm executive, writer, show runner and horrific host to all evil events, Jeff Tucker, confirmed to me: “This one is the biggest and best of her shows that I’ve had the pleasure of working on. Elvira has truly out done herself to bring you the scary best. The time crunch is very real, Elvira is on stage 95% of the 25+ min long show; between the re-set time needed for all the spectacular effects, and giving her the needed time to recharge between the two shows that run every night of Scary Farm (that’s Thursday – Sunday from now till Halloween night). There simply wasn’t enough wiggle room to provide a Meet N Greet. But, you can buy some autographed posters and books in the Boo-Tique!”
To titillate us, Elvira explains that this year’s theme pays tribute to her “Mediocre rise to the middle”, from her days as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed “B” actress, to her spooktacular shows at Knott’s Scary Farm, Elvira highlights some of our favorite visuals from her film and mixes them with all new song parodies and special effects dance numbers. According to Elvira’s opening monologue, she named this show after herself, because in her own words “it’s ALL about ME!” She went on to explain “Most people can only remember ‘her name’ or the ‘name of the show’ but not both!”In a quick hit of saucy sarcasm, she blames “the Russians”. Personally, I blame this Zombie Society and millennial’s, but that’s just me and a story for later!
Co-writing for the 3rd time with the mastermind of the macabre, to bring this years Sinematic Spectacle to the stage is none other than Cassandra’s dearest fiend, Miss Jackie Beat and we couldn’t be happier! Not only is Jackie Beat one of my all time favorite Drag Queen entertainers, but she’s also a highly successful and accomplished writer, comedian, and singer. To paraphrase from her bio at www.MissJackieBeat.com: “Drag superstar JACKIE BEAT has been entertaining audiences across the U.S. and in Europe for over TWENTY-FIVE YEARS with her razor-sharp comedy and hysterical song parodies. She has appeared on many TV shows such as “Sex and the City” and in several movies including “Flawless” with Robert DeNiro, the festival hit “Wigstock The Movie” and the camp cult horror favorite “Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver”. Jackie Beat is also a proud Writers Guild member who has worked on Numerous Hit shows, as well as writing special material for Legends like the late great Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, and the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Margaret Cho, Sandra Bernhard, Patricia Arquette and many more!
Miss Jackie’s iconic brand of shelarious self-deprecating humor and whimsical wit are equally matched and are truly complimentary to Elvira’s own style. The combined talent of this gruesome twosome is clearly evident in every jolting joke, twisted turn of phrase and amazing array of song parodies. Aside from just working behind the scenes in the writer’s room, Miss Jackie also makes a personal video appearance twice during the show, as Elvria’s new nemesis “Buffy Molding”, a character Jackie named as an homage to her friend and “Gingerdead Man 3” co-star, Muffy Bolding. Jackie’s “Buffy” is also a loving nod to actress Edie McClurg’s campy and overtly conservative character “Chastity Pariah” from the original 1988 feature film.
I was very lucky that Miss Jackie took a few moments of her precious time on tour, to chat a little with me via email to give us a glimpse of her world while working with The Queen of Halloween!
Nightmarish Conjurings: Dear Miss Jackie, most people would just review the show as a “show”, but I know, there is so much more behind it, a labor of love that speaks to the heart of many, chock full-of schlock and sentiment. My question is simply this – what did you write, why did you write it and how does this send off make you feel?
Jackie Beat: I helped Cassandra write the entire show and all the song parodies. It’s my third year working with her and it is such an honor to be involved in the Queen of Halloween’s iconic annual show. It truly is the end of an era with Elvira leaving Knott’s Scary Farm, but I know that she is onto bigger better things. After all, you can’t kill what’s already dead!
NC: The whole show is truly fangtastic! What was the best and favorite part for you to write?
JB: All of it was fun, but song parodies are my favorite thing ever – and what I’m most famous for – so I would have to say them!
NC: Did you face any challenges?
JB: Ironically, the song parodies! Sometimes its difficult to work within an existing frame-work and make it work in a show. And it obviously has to be about Elvira. Also, the show moves very fast so the jokes in a song need to land hard – there’s no time for people to “do the math.”
NC: Lastly, in your opinion, why is Elvira so special to you and why should she continue to be special to generations of our community to come?
JB: Because she is an outsider. She is obviously beautiful but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows she’s a joke, and she embraces it. What makes her different are the very things that make her special and that is an important message that the world will never stop needing to hear. And it’s more important than ever in today’s political climate. Oh, and her boobs… we can’t forget those amazing boobs!
NC: Miss Jackie, I agree with you 100%, “Elvira” was that take-no-shit outsider whom we needed and always will. She’s also a great force as a person. Cassandra has always been there for us as a community and for a few of us personally as individuals. I wouldn’t be the Queen I am today without her in my life, but she’s not the only one, I want to thank you as well!
Even though I have had the honor of performing in a few club shows and competitions that Miss Jackie Beat has hosted, this chat was truly an honor! You can find Miss Jackie all over social media at @JackieBeat!
I can’t express how amazing this show was – words alone don’t do it justice. At Elvira’s Boo-tique guests had the chance to purchase a few souvenirs that included gorgeous pieces from Elvira’s all new jewelry line “Objects of Desire” by Sweet Romance, which includes a ravishing replica of Elvira’s magical ruby ring. However, if you missed the chance to visit the Boo-tique, you can still find most everything at www.Elvira.com. While you are there, you can click all over her links to find her on the InterWeb and also check out her new clothing line at www.pinupgirlclothing.com.
In closing, I’m super lucky I’ve had the opportunity to see so much of Elvira over the years, both the character and Cassandra hold a very special place in my heart and I love her like family. Don’t worry though, this isn’t the last for our Mistress, Elvira is only retiring her live shows at Knott’s Scary Farm as she still has many tricks n treats hiding in her cleavage. I’ll ease your pain with a personal quote Cassandra gave to the OC Register in a recent review:
“I wanted to go out on top when I looked really good and the show looks really good,” Cassandra Peterson, who portrays Elvira, said. “Part of the reason I’m not doing the show is I have three projects I really want to concentrate on. One is an animated TV show that I’ve been working on for a long time. One is my autobiography, which I’ve been working on forever and if I don’t set some kind of date and finish it, it’s never going to happen. And one is a possible television project. I’m working on getting all of those out and really also need to free up some time to concentrate on those because when you take three months out of the year ever year, I feel like I never get anything done.” To read the whole article click HERE.
Till my next review darlings,
- Saying Goodbye to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark at Knott’s Scary Farm - November 11, 2017