Today is the birthday of Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira Mistress of the Dark. Some of you may have grown up watching her movie or TV show Movie Macabre. Peterson’s popularity continues as demonstrated by her gig co-hosting Stan Lee’s Comikaze at the end of October. One super fan took her love of Elvira straight to the artists of Epic Ink. She didn’t know that she was in for a big surprise: Elvira was on hand to watch the girl get inked. An even bigger surprise for the tattoo artists, Elvira was inspired to get her first tattoo.
OHSOGRAY chatted with Epic Ink artists Josh Bodwell and Heather Maranda about their crazy Elvira day.
Epic Ink’s Elvira episode airs tonight, Wednesday, September 17th at 10:30/9:30c on A&E. Check out the trailer after the interview.
How did it come about that Elvira came in for a tattoo?
Heather: She didn’t come in for a tattoo. I think it was atmosphere.
Josh: It was amazing. She came in to surprise my client. My client was getting, you see it in the trailer, a portrait – realistic life quality/photographic quality portrait of Elvira and we wanted to surprise her with a really special guest. We sort of pulled a fast one on my client and brought Elvira in to meet her and actually hang out with us. That was all we thought was going to happen – we were going to surprise my client with a little twist and lo and behold, Heather starts chatting up Elvira.
Heather: We were just talking about silly things and comparing boobs. We just had fun and honestly I wasn’t expecting it. We were just hanging out and I think the atmosphere got to her. She decided she wanted to get a tattoo.
Josh: I feel like she had a real connection with you, too, Heather. I’ve said it before and I don’t know if it’s in the episode, but I feel like you guys were definitely kindred spirits and she definitely felt really comfortable with you. I had even spent some time with and my client, so we were chatting a little bit, too, and it [a tattoo] never really came up. As soon as she met you, she must’ve just seen something in you and your work and it was a really exciting moment.
Heather: Aww, so sweet Josh.
Does she have other tattoos or was this her first?
Heather: That’s her first and only tattoo. I don’t know if she’ll get any more. It was the tattoo that was painted on her in her movie, Elvira Mistress of the Dark. So, she decided because Cassandra plays Elvira, she’s Elvira, her tattoo… It’s a little thing. It’s not anything huge, but it was [also] little in the movie.
Josh: It’s so fitting for her because it is her. People have known her onscreen and have seen this tattoo in the movie, so it made sense that she got her tattoo. It is hers, after all.
Heather: Exactly. It’s her tattoo on her – it’s kinda cool.
Is it different for you when you’re tattooing somebody who is famous? Do you feel more pressure or there is going to be more scrutiny of your work?
Heather: I always feel pressure to do a good job. In that scene it was definitely, this is such a small and simple tattoo if I fuck it up then I’m an idiot. So yeah, there was a lot of pressure because of that. And the fact that it was Elvira. And the fact that I was tattooing her first tattoo ever and I was doing it in costume – it was really hot.
Josh: So everything was stacked up against Heather that day. I think as artists, we’re all very confident in our work, but when you’re dealing with a celebrity or something like that, typically you have a bit more time to mentally prep yourself. But in this case, I feel like it was pretty much just thrown at Heather like on the spot cause Elvira just decided, I think in that moment, that she was going to get a tattoo. I can imagine that put you off guard, Heather.
Heather: Totally. 100 percent. Cause first off, I was shocked she’d want me to do it. Then the fact that it was her first tattoo and it was a party atmosphere so there were tons of people. She was talking to her fans, and moving a lot, and the whole situation was crazy. I think I must’ve looked nervous because every single person there was like, “You look really nervous.” I think I was just concentrating really hard! [Laughs] I was like, “I must do this tattoo properly.”
For your other client, was that the first time you’ve done an Elvira tattoo?
Josh: That’s the amazing thing too; this was the first time that I’ve gotten a request, which is really odd because she is a popular subject, and it’s odd that I’ve never been requested to do an Elvira before. Knowing that I was going to show this tattoo not only to the client but the actual person that I tattooed was definitely an added level of pressure being there with my first Elvira portrait. She was going to inspect it and she was going to be the biggest critic – probably more so than the client. The client would be happy, regardless. I really felt like I had to make Elvira happy, as well.
Heather: I think that I would have made me….I’m glad I just got to tattoo Elvira. That was less pressure than actually tattooing her portrait – then having her look at it and go, “Uh, what did you do to my face?” But she didn’t because it was absolutely gorgeous. You hit it spot on, Josh.
Josh: Thank you. I definitely put in 120 percent cause I knew if there was one I had to nail, it had to be this portrait.
Did you guys grow up watching Elvira?
Heather: I definitely did. My mom worked in a video store so I had access to pretty much any video ever around that time. I was watching horror movies from the time I was seven or eight years old. So I definitely grew up with Elvira.
Would agree that Cassandra Peterson has not aged in the last 30 years?
Heather: Um, no – she’s pristine. Gorgeous.
Josh: She must actually be a real life vampire. I’ve never met anybody who still looks that good after all these years.
Heather: We were there – we were up close and personal with her…literally right up on her and she’s absolutely gorgeous.
Did you press her for her beauty secrets?
Heather: No, actually I didn’t. I kind of like to keep stuff away from personal [unless] they start bringing it up. That’s just with all my clients. So we just talked about random, fun things. It was very normal. She’s a very quick-witted, hilarious individual. I think that’s probably why we got along – we both have a similar sense of humor…almost a little bit fucked up so it just clicked and it was great.
Josh: She’s amazing. She lights up a room when she walks in. We had a party atmosphere going, but when she showed up, it really turned up.