How did you come up with the characters for the show?
Well, they had a certain image in mind, a feel. Elvira was already popular in LA, so the station wanted to get in on the female host. And other than her wearing a slinky gown with cleavage, everything else was up in the air. So together with my producer, they let us come up with what she was going to look like and the style. The art department had a blast putting together the set. The people that built Stella’s set were the old guys from The Ernie Kovacs Show. So they were having blast like the old days when they would build crazy sets and and props for Ernie Kovacs so everybody had fun working on the show. You could be silly and do whatever you wanted to do. And of course Stella is much different in the beginning than she is 6 years later on the last show. I wanted red hair and to be more like a glamorous Rita Hayworth type than a vampire. Stella was not a vampire, she was a mortal, her mother was a witch and stuff like that, but she wasn’t a vampire. She lived in a haunted condo opposed to a house; this is a modern day hostess (laughs). We were a little horror sitcom. Sometimes during the ratings months our show would continue as a separate entity and then we would resume showing movies the following week. A lot of people agree that the scenes that we did were the real reason they watched the show, which is flattering.
With today’s Internet presence, have you ever thought about reviving the role of Stella for YouTube or possibly a website like Elvira?
Now that I have my DVDs and it’s so easy to do things on the web now and the thing that got me, somebody on MySpace has actually created a Stella site and she’s like 22, which I find very flattering so I will do something now that I have the DVDs—I don’t know if I want to be Stella but—I mean its too much trouble to pump up the cleavage (laughs)
Was your one-woman play ‘Bats’ (co-written with Robert Dunbar) based on actual events of your life as a TV horror host?
Um, well, in a sense that in the play itself there are stories about a horror host. An actress no longer famous and desperate for money that becomes a host or she’s in horror movies. Not really based on anything personal; other than my experience of different characters. It was Robert’s idea and format and we got together and wrote it and had a great time. He’s a brilliant mystery writer and has a lot of books out. I was honored to work with him.
He was actually on the episode about the Jersey Devil. You were yelling at him on the phone and he hung up on you…
Oooh, I’m glad you reminded me, I’m never gonna speak to him again (laughs).
You transitioned well into film with 2000’s Postcards From Paradise Park; which got high marks in the industry. Did you have other film roles before this and are there any in the works?
When I was doing Bats someone said you have to audition for this indie of friend of mine is doing. So I went, I got the script and I really liked it. It was so different for me. So I auditioned and shockingly I got it cause they heard that Stella was coming to audition and they were thinking, ‘Aww man, this is so wrong, this is not who were looking for,’ but yea I loved the role. I actually work for that film’s producer, Curt Crane and he’s got a new project titled Float Your Boat that he is in the process of trying to get made, so hopefully I’ll get a role in that one too.
The documentary American Scary (2006) by John Hudgens covered over 60 famous hosts; did that film bring new awareness to Stella from Generation X?
Probably. The filmmakers have said that. There’s such a fan base out there for people who love the horror host. And they find this stuff online, it’s like an underground cult that’s been going on for years with major cities having their favorite host that everybody remembers. They feel personally attached to their host. It’s sort of weird. But I think Saturday Night Dead is a prime example of the genre, and its connection to American Folk Art.
You’ve explored all avenues of entertainment, appearing on radio (Re Re De Nucci, WOGL) as well as television, theater and movies. What’s next?
Well, I would love to continue the character Re Re DeNucci. She’s a lot of fun, and she has her own fan base. Um, I don’t know, I’m not as driven theatrically as I used to be, I’m real happy…
(Laughs) I know! I enjoy my life and I like my little house…no kids, travel… It’s funny though, I am starting to miss that aspect of the creative side so I’m sure I’ll be doing more. I’m proud of my characters that people were either able to embrace or related to. I’m happy that I became an underground cult figure.
Did you really sign a deal with the North Jersey Devil?
I did…I also signed one with the South Jersey Devil, so ya know, they’re battling it out. I can’t tell you exactly what it is but it has something to do with my cleavage.