Cassandra Peterson — known to most as the TV persona Elvira, Mistress of the Dark — came out in her new memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira, by revealing that she has been in a relationship with another woman for the past 19 years.
Peterson met Teresa “T” Wierson at Hollywood Gold’s Gym, noticing the “dark and brooding” presence of who she thought to be a “tan, tattooed, and muscular” man, Advocate reports. Wierson, who was a trainer at the gym, turned out to be a woman.
“A typical sexy bad boy, he was unaware he was so charismatic that he’d garnered his own unofficial fan club. Watching him from the safety of my treadmill made my heart beat faster and the time pass much more quickly,” Peterson wrote.
After finally running into Wierson in the ladies locker room, Peterson realized she was a woman, and a friendship began to take shape. Wierson soon became Peterson’s trainer and for the next six years, the two worked out together three days a week.
One day, Wierson showed up on Peterson’s doorstop, recently separated from her partner and having just completed a stint of rehab, according to the memoir.
“There on the doorstep stood my trainer, T, holding a trash bag full of her belongings, looking sad and bedraggled,” Peterson wrote.
After Peterson’s own 25-year marriage singer and manager Mark Pierson ended, Wierson and Peterson moved in together.
Things started to shift from platonic to romantic when Peterson, in the spur of the moment and much to her own surprise, felt the urge to kiss Wierson after the two finished going out for a movie.
“I soon discovered that we connected sexually in a way I’d never experienced,” Peterson wrote of Wierson, who has since taken up the role of Peterson’s assistant.
The couple decided to keep their relationship private to help protect the Elvira brand, fearing fans would abandon the character who is known to have a thing for men.
Decades later, Peterson said she’s now comfortable telling her story of longtime love with another woman, out in the open.
“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 said.
Peterson has been known for decades as a B horror movie presenter, with the earliest stint airing as Elvira’s Movie Macabre from 1981 to 1986 and the latest iteration appearing as 13 Nights of Elvira, a 13-episode series produced by Hulu in 2014. In addition, Shudder is celebrating Elvira with a 40th-anniversary special airing on September 25 at 8 pm.
Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark is available now from Hachette Books.