Glamour On The Fourth Of July

Real pinup girl As holidays go, Independence Day is one of the less obviously glamorous. Parades and cookouts lack the dramatic excitement of New Year’s Eve champagne or Valentine’s roses. But that doesn’t mean that patriotism itself doesn’t have a glamorous face. Glamour and politics have been (somewhat uncomfortable) bedfellows since long before Rosie the Riveter, and they will remain that way long after Michelle Obama’s toned arms and Jason Wu ensembles have left the White House.

The role of glamour in U.S. politics is complicated at best. Glamour, as a concept, runs counter to the central notion of our government - that everyone is created equal. The result is kind of a mess, come election time. On both sides of the aisle, politicians try to appear simultaneously down-home (I connect with you) and glamorous (I'm so fabulous; you should aspire to be like me), sending mixed messages to a public that's mostly just tired of politicians anyway.

Maybe that explains why Fourth of July celebrations since the late 18th century have been more about parades and fireworks and getting dirty in the backyard than they have been about celebratory balls or fancy parties. Is it possible that this Saturday is the one day this year that we put aside our aspirations and, instead, act like we really are equal?

[War poster by Flickr user michal hadassah. Used under Creative Commons license. Original artwork by Cyrus C. Hungerford, 1944.]

Matzah-riffic Kitchen

Motzahkitchen How cute  are these Passover oven mitts, hot-pot holders and even a kippah! Matzah-themed kitchen accessories at Ralphs.

You can also buy them online.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I'm not Irish, but some people tell me I should be: that touch of Blarney, and an inappropriate sense of humor.

Glamour O' The Irish

0312009 clover Close up, the Irish, and Irish-Americans, are a pretty hardscrabble lot: famines, economic troubles, alcoholism, a whole lot of sunburns (for those of us in the U.S., anyway). But a glimmer of something fabulous lurks beneath the surface of freckles and greenery. After all, Ireland is well-known for its beauty and its mystery – a pretty glamorous combination.

It might be difficult to spot anything glamorous at your local St. Patrick’s Day parade, where it’s hidden among a whole lot of Guinness-waving frat boys in “I’m Irish Today” t-shirts. But it’s probably there anyway, in the little old man walking with the Hibernians, or the ancient lady in a green blazer and comfortable shoes.

They might not look like movie stars, but these characters are pretty glamorous anyway. They embody the Romantic ideal of the “Noble Savage” – good, simple individuals at the mercy of civilization. Unfettered by societal pressures and norms, their innate goodness would help them live ideal lives, but as a part of civilization, life is difficult and imperfect.

Add to that all the mythology that surrounds Irish life – the magic, the fairies, the leprechauns – and you’ve got some glamour. Even if it is buried underneath a messy pile of frizzy red hair and a big, bulky sweater.

Photo credit: cygnus921 from Flickr.

Glamorous Gifts: DG Does Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine's Day, holiday of anticipation and angst. For some, it's a delightful excuse for public displays of affection, for others a form of emotional blackmail--a demand for loot. Some of us simply ignore the occasion while others go all out. Regardless of your attitude toward the holiday, it does present an opportunity to contemplate the meanings and forms of modern-day love tokens.

To give readers some Valentine's Day inspiration, we asked DG contributors and friends to suggest gifts for male and female Valentines. Their ideas range from "a bodice-ripper in a bottle" to a Pixar classic.

Kate Coe

Thierry Mugler Angel Rose reklama For a woman: ANGEL ROSE For Women By THIERRY MUGLER eau de parfum

A variation on the original Angel, this scent combines both ethereal romance and earthy lust--as Bois de Jasmine says

 earthy undertones that... produce the shocking effect of mud on a white evening dress

It's a bodice-ripper in a bottle. 


Besides solving all the tedious discussions about asking directions, the Garmin GPS routes your beloved around traffic snarls, gives him directions for shopping, restaurants, and florists, stores photos, and offers a choice of voices with sexy accents. Rev his engine.

Kate Coe is DG's chief correspondent. 51ZMAbXQoFL._SS400_

Joan DeJean

For anyone, male or female, who loves 19th-century opera, I'd suggest a horizon-opening gift that combines passion and glamour: one of the phenomenal recent recordings of early opera.

1. Anything recorded by Fabio Biondi; my top pick would be Vivaldi's Bajazet.

2. Handel's sexiest opera, Giulio Cesare. The DVD of the Glyndebourne production features the greatest production numbers in recent opera history.

Joan DeJean, a professor of French literature at Penn,  is the author of The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. She was interviewed by DG here.

Groomzilla

Wall-e

Groomzilla doesn't believe in separate gifts for men and women! Of course, this is largely because I try to pass off women's perfume as cologne and Coach purses as unisex carry-alls, but motives aside, boyfriends and girlfriends alike get only one recommendation this Valentine's Day: WALL-E on DVD.

The kid in all of us loves a good Pixar flick, and this Oscar-nominated film has a secret life as the best love story to come out of Hollywood in years. It might seem strange that an animated eco-fable starring an anthropomorphic trash compactor would get one in a romantic frame of mind, but I guarantee that this is the must-watch DVD for a cozy Valentine's night in.

Groomzilla is the nom de plume of a newlywed Los Angeles attorney who chronicled his adventures in gay wedding planning in a series of DG posts.

Kate Hahn

FOR WOMEN:

A Hermès silk scarf. So glamorous that American actress-turned-Monaco-princess Grace Kelly reportedly used one as a sling for her broken arm back in the Fifties. Audrey and Jackie adored them. SJP and Madonna do too. The intricately patterned French-milled silk squares were first produced in 1927 and are hand-screened in Lyons. Choose a versatile 36” X 36” size in classic Hermes orange or a top Pantone trend color for Spring 2009: bright blue, lavender or lemon. Spread your Valentine love to the rest of the world with the Offrandes d’un Jour pattern. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Indian charity CRY (Child Rights and You). The website’s “playtime with your scarf” is a how-to guide for 20 ways to fold: bohemian turban, prim neckerchief, sexy halter. Each method reveals different aspects of the overall pattern, so you decide how much you want to expose. Hermes.com or check vintage stores. $350-375.

Songes Eau de Toilette by French perfumer Annick Goutal. The actual color is a fiery reddish-gold. Officially a floral/oriental blend. Inspired by Annick Goutal’s daughter Camille’s romantic trip to the island of Mauritius. Sensual, sunny, rich, real.

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FOR MEN:

A man should do everything with ease and grace. That includes commuting and making playlists. Give him a portable GPS navigator with real-time traffic navigation info and an iTunes tagger that lets him tag songs he hears on the radio so he can buy them on iTunes later. According to Consumer Reports both features will be available on the Dual Electronics’ NavAtlas XNAV43HD, which will retail for $280 when it goes on sale in late March or early April (give your guy a TK note). Bond has probably had one since 1975.

And speaking of the 70s, how about a little retro pornography? Our household is a fan of Playboy: Redheads, a collection of photographs the magazine published from the 1950s-1970s. If you’re a fan of blondes and brunettes too, you can get the three-volume boxed set. The prints are sometimes more kitsch than erotic (think girl with beehive eagerly awaiting her chess opponent while perched on a shag carpet) but the lack of cosmetic surgery enhancements and the BP (before-Photoshop) era absence of digital retouching makes these fantasy women seem like they just might be attainable. Which is somehow sexier.

Joan Kron

Women don't want vacuum cleaners and mixmasters for valentines day. They want tokens of love. So for her I suggest he buy the largest South Sea pearl stud earrings he can afford--black or white--simple ones, no fancy filigree trimmings. If he can afford two sets, he should get one black and one white. Then she can wear them in split sets-- black on one ear, white on the other. Amazon has them from $149 to $7500.1506808a8da0a94b36167110

Men like more technical things, so for him, I suggest a Kindle downloaded with free sample chapters of every book you think might interest him or --if you want to make him over--books that will make him a better conversationalist. [Editor's note: Amazon will release a new version of the Kindle on February 9.]

If he can't afford much, he can buy her a set of polyester ivory satin sheets and pillowcases. The sheets may be too slippery for daily use but satin pillowcases are great for postponing facial wrinkles and preserving hairdos. Do not buy the red ones--the color rubs off.

Another of my favorite gifts for women is a luxurious, washable silk jacquard kimono from Dreamsacks, $110, in baby pink and many other colors. They have them short too. They are great for traveling, because they come in a little pouch and fold up small, and they feel very glam for swanning around the house.

Joan Kron, contributing editor at large for Allure, was interviewed by DG here.

Joanne McNeil

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Gift idea for a man: Android Alien Blue Dial Mens Watch

This watch is made for a stylish but slightly nerdy guy who travels a lot. He will always know what time it is wherever you are.

Gift idea for a woman: Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker

Valentine's Day on a weekend means breakfast in bed! The Bialetti moka pot is as easy to brew as a drip coffee maker. Plus, it looks adorable on the stovetop. The 6-cup version is the perfect size for two.

Joanne McNeil blogs at The Tomorrow Museum and was interviewed by DG here.

Paige Phelps

I'm afraid I'm one of those party poopers who hates Valentine's Day. Maybe it has something to do with my junior high's Val-O-Gram program. For $.50 you could buy a friend a pink carnation, for $1.00, you could send a red carnation to the boy/girl of your dreams. What ended up happening is the popular girls would then roam the hallways with armfuls of flowers while the rest of us hid behind our locker doors, silently weeping. Screw you, Valentine's Day! What have you ever done for me?!?

I Hate Valentine's Day Lovebox

The ultimate melancholy music man (please note song "I Will Never Marry.")

But, hey, let's get real here. Sometimes V-Day is really about gettin' a little something, something. To that end, why not surprise her with some AUTHENTIC Love Liquid from Kama Sutra Bedside Box Lover's Toolkit? The "handcrafted antique replica" box will look great next to your Precious Moments figurines and the kiddoes will never know! Special request, though, if you buy this, will you please report back on what the feather in the hacky-sack looking thing is? Inquiring minds....

Paige Phelps is a Dallas-based journalist and regular DG contributor.

Virginia Postrel

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A good present, for Valentine's Day or any other occasion, should be something tailored to the recipient, which makes generic assignments like this (and, yes, I'm the one who cooked it up) rather peculiar. We at DG can only hope that there's enough variety on our list to suit a wide range of sweethearts.

That said, something sensual is always good. So how about the oh-so-strokable Apple iPod touch, suitable for either sex? Personalize it with photos or a playlist of shared favorite songs.

Also, remember that you are giving the gift to your lover, not yourself. Don't put a bow on an effort at reform and expect a big thank you kiss. Take it from a blissfully married football widow, nothing says "I love you" like NFL films. He'll think of you every time he hears John Fucenda.

Similarly, if you're the type of guy to grouse about the silly impracticality of perishable flowers, surprise her with a big bouquet. (If you're sending it long-distance, I highly recommend Proflowers, either via the Amazon link here or their own website.)

Virginia Postrel is DG's editor-in-chief and a columnist for The Atlantic. She's writing a book on glamour for The Free Press.

Nancy Rommelman

While I am not exactly sure why it's happened or whether I deserve it, my husband has lately started doing something wonderful for me in the morning as I lie in bed, and that is bring me a cup of hot coffee. And every morning, as I nestle a little deeper into the pillows, I say, "Thank you, baby," and he says, "Of course." Twelve years, and this new sweetness. Mm.
Nancy Rommelman is a journalist and blogger. She was interviewed by DG here.

Regina Walton

This one was difficult for me. I consulted a good friend, and his feeling was the same as mine. I'm not as big on "stuff" as I am on things that are thoughtful but also are something a couple can experience together.

So I'm running with this idea: an indulgent bath experience set up and managed by a woman's significant other.  I really find indulgent bath and body care products completely irresistible. Maybe you won't share a bath but why not? Ideally, I see this as the woman getting treated to a spa experience at home.

Don't just pick any set. Know what her favorite fragrance type is: citrus, fruity, floral, earthy and go from there. For example, for me, it's floral scents with lavender or freesia being my first choices.

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However, don't go too cheap. If the spa sets are too cheap then the fragrance is synthetic and I don't like those smells. They lack depth to me. In contrast, natural scents are just divine, so I'd recommend L'Occitane's products chosen and put together. That's much more personal too. Comparatively speaking, L'Occitane is pricey, but the products are worth it and last much longer. I've still got essential oils I bought in Paris years ago, as well as just now getting to the bottom of a bottle of L'Occitane's lavender body milk I bought back in 2005. With quality products a little really last you a long time.

There are also some good bath sets out there that are cheaper than L'Occitane, though I do think the pre-assembled ones lack that personal touch. I searched for "spa-in-a-basket" and this is the page that came up on Amazon.

For him:
It depends on the man. We've got techies, foodies, sports nuts, music nuts, etc. Of course, most guys are a combination. So let me pick one: the foodie (yes, I'm basing this one on experience.) So if it's a foodie you've got, then hopefully, you know what food he likes. Get a cookbook for a cuisine that's his favorite and simply make him an awesome meal.

Also, just like the spa sets you can get a set of foodie items that he enjoys. Again, the best tactic is to choose from things you know he likes. But in a pinch this can help you sort through some categories.

Regina Walton is a Seoul-based journalist and blogger. She interviewed fashionista Diane Pernet for DG.

Elyse Sewell And The Year Of The Ox

 

If you're celebrating the Year of the Ox, you can pick up some tips from ANTM cycle 1's Elyse Sewell. While living and modeling in Shanghai, Sewell made this video. She's equally adept on either side of the camera, and is probably the most successful model to live through the series. Certainly one of my favorite reality show contestants. Her advice for 2009?

Wear lucky red, avoid the number 4!

Glamorous Gifts

With shoppers in a frenzy preparing for DG's four-month anniversary on December 25, we asked a number of contributors to recommend glamorous gifts that don't require braving the malls. Save gas and aggravation. Let your broadband do the walking.

Carmindy
GET POSITIVELY I am obsessed with Ippolita jewelry. Just one plain gold hammered bangle is so fabulous and the gift of gold these days is a safer investment than anything else! This is for any women with expensive taste who likes chic simplicity instead of over-the-top bling.

The other gift I would recommend is a stocking stuffer and it's Plumeria Blossom incense by Maui Lani Incense. This is my favorite flower and I have never seen this scent anywhere else. 

Carmindy, interviewed by DG here, is a makeup artist best known for her work on TLC's "What Not to Wear" and the author of Get Positively Beautiful and The 5-Minute Face.  

Kate Coe
Copperpot Mauviel Copper: Nothing says "serious cook" like French copper. It's the kitchen equivalent of mine-cut diamonds--everything else looks more expensive.   I think the jam pan is actually the most useful--centerpiece, drinks cooler, logs for the fireplace..... 

Less expensively, a Diablix bottle opener by Alessi.  You or your pals can feel naughty, even when opening plain seltzer water. 

Kate Coe is DG's chief correspondent.


Jackie Danicki 
Tarte Glam on The Go Kabuki Brush: Soft, luxurious, makes you gorgeous and comes in ultra-glam violet croc case
Jackie Danicki, who was interviewed by DG here, is the director of marketing for Qik and blogs, with Hillary Johnson, at Jack & Hill.

Groomzilla Tomfordbig1
Tom Ford for Men cologne. Tom Ford has been unstoppable this year, both at the helm of his eponymous high-end clothing and accessories line and at the center of his full-court press both behind and in front of the camera. One of the most sensual (and arguably glamorous) images of the past year was the sight of a Tom Ford cologne bottle pressed invitingly into the recesses of a woman's pelvis by her red lacquered nails (Jungle Red, no doubt). Sex sells, and for that reason alone, this cologne should go flying off the shelf. But more importantly, it actually smells wonderful. With just a few strategic squirts, you can undo one more button on your shirt, bare your immaculately-manscaped chest, and begin a Holiday party filled with models and bottles.

Ren Mayblossom and Blue Cypress Balancing Facial Cleansing Gel. I love ridiculous products for my skin, and the more outrageous the claims (unicorn horn! chirically correct molecules! fair-trade alpha-hydroxy!), the more excited I become. In the case of Ren's wonderfully-effective cleanser, I can delight in the absurd ingredients (mayblossom? blue cypress? I'm sure these foods promote proper unicorn horn growth!) and experience noticably cleaner, fresher skin. Also, I can torture my husband that I spent $32 on "soap" that can only be used on one part of my body.

Groomzilla is the nom de plume of a newlywed Los Angeles attorney who chronicled his adventures in gay wedding planning in a series of DG posts.

Joan Kron
51fB3GruSoL._SL160_ Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 (Top Hat / Swing Time / Follow the Fleet / Shall We Dance / The Barkleys of Broadway): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers are always glamorous. Check out the Super glam sets in "Swing Time," featuring crystal clear cellophane used as slipcovers on the chairs and as tablecloths in the nightclub scene. The big white sets of these early Hollywood movies--inspired by the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes--were the epitome of Art Deco.

Another movie with glamorous Art Deco sets is the original version of The Women, starring Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Rosalind Russell--especially the fashion show scene. I've been playing both these films on a big screen without the sound, and they are like art installations. 

Joan Kron is contributing editor at large for Allure magazine and the author of books on plastic surgery and home interiors. She was interviewed by DG here.

Paige Phelps
Sigerson Morrison for Target Lustra D'Orsay Pumps: Siegerson Morrison is a terrifically expensive, wonderful shoe brand that I usually drool over but can't afford. If you're not giving this to yourself, consider it for your hip sister or sis-in-law. It's funky and fun and can be dressed up or down. And for those who think these capsule brand promos don't offer the goods, think again. Everytime I've worn my Lela Rose for Payless or Target's International Go collection clothes, I've gotten compliments, so they do deliver.
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Also for your friend/sister type, a fun cocktail ring that screams FAKE is fun for the holidays (and don't limit yourself to wearing it on the traditional ring finger). Try this  Zirconite enamel ring: great with the little black dress or even jeans and a cute top. If they're not into rings, this can be a fun stocking stuffer: 

For your more erudite friend, boy or girl, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster is one of the best fashion books I've read in a long while. But warning to glamourpusses: it breaks down the myths behind the magic. Trust, after reading this, you'll NEVER scoff at Target capsule collections--in fact you might think of them as just as good as high-end brands. 

Paige Phelps is a Dallas-based writer and regular DG correspondent.

Virginia Postrel
With all due respect to the lure of perfume and jewels, some of us spend most of our glamour budget on books. Here are some favorites.

Woman in the Mirror: 1945-2004: A book of Richard Avedon's iconic photography is appealing enough, but this one has the bonus of a lengthy essay by the brilliant fashion critic and art historian Anne Hollander. Not just a coffee-table book.

NSAP1717_LARGE Athlete: Some people think great athletes can't be glamorous, because they too obviously work hard. Walter Iooss's photography finds glamour as well as grit: great faces, great bodies, great moves. (With a four-figure budget, you can buy a signed print of his magnificent Blue Dunk photo of Michael Jordan through the New York Times store. Hence the NYT logo marring the illustration here.) For the lover of sports, photography, or both.

Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies: A smart history of the imaginary version of the real city, perfect for either movie buffs or New Yorkers.

For travelers, art lovers, and people who wish they traveled more or knew more about art, Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel is an entertaining read that smuggles in a remarkable amount of cultural education. After discovering it in London, I bought copies for several family members.

Whimsical, sweet, and knowing, Edward Monkton books make great stocking stuffers for glamoristas. I'm particularly fond of Shoes, Chocs, Bags, and Frocks. (For samples of the art, check out the Edward Monkton website.)

Finally, I never miss an opportunity to plug my favorite book about glamour (though I'm not sure anyone else thinks of it that way): Michael Chabon's Great American Novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Virginia Postrel is a Los Angeles-based columnist and author and DG's editor-in-chief.

Diego Rodriguez
414F25FMAJL._SL160_ For people who want to counter the "Do you have an iPhone?" question with a "No, but I pack a M8" answer: the Leica M8. Nothing makes me wonder "Just who is that person" more than a Leica M8. Tucked discretely under one's arm, or brandished boldly across a chest, the M8 is a soft-spoken yet potent beacon of technological glamour.

TAG Heuer Men's Monaco Automatic Chronograph Watch: If the names 911, R8, M3, or GT-R make your heart race, this is your timepiece. McQueen wore one, and it's named after the most glamorous kingdom left in the world. Royalty, speed, sex, adrenaline, and crisp, elegant aesthetics, all together on your wrist.

Diego Rodriguez is a partner at IDEO, a professor at the Stanford d-school, and a regular DG contributor.

Nancy Rommelman
41ART0XDYNL._SL160_ Salvador Dali perfumes The Dalissime [Nancy's husband] Din and I originally bought for Hillary [Johnson, his sister] back in 1997. When I literally could not keep my nose out of her neck, I bought myself some. It's very feminine, as in, men go gaga for it.

I also really, really like the Laguna, which is "fresher," faster, and always make me feel very racy and ready. Also, can you beat these bottles? No, you cannot.

Nancy Rommelman is a Portland, Oregon-based writer, blogger, and the author of several books. She was interviewed by DG here.

Anne Stewart 
The stationery set: This is the perfect fashionable gift for young romantics, or for glamour gals who still remember when Casablanca was first released. Because there’s nothing more glamorous than sending a goodbye forever note to a lover on your own stationary, except maybe sending the next note… 

The personalized child's calling card: A super-cute stocking stuffer for those just initiated to the world of glamour (or for their fashionable moms). Personalized children’s calling cards are a chic way to make introductions and organize play dates. Stylish, convenient, and they make you feel all grown up, in a good way. 

Anne Stewart is a Cleveland-based writer and graphic designer who recently wrote a DG post on the cover art of hip-hop mixtapes.

Regina Walton
I like to give people very pretty mother-of-pearl Korean business card holders like this one on Ebay. Here is a similar product on Amazon by Swarovski - pave crystals. They don't seem to have  a lot in stock so maybe it's last season's. There is a zebra print one and a leopard print one. You need to exercise caution with animal prints, but I think these cases hit glamour and not tacky. Card case

Another, with green crystals. Another, that has a little Monet painting on it . (I link these two because they seem to be well stocked - the Monet one I really like.)

I've got a theme: I like pretty card holders that aren't just these plain boring things.  I've even attached a pic of the one I carry.

Also, I'm big on nice pens.  I use Waterman fountain pens exclusively (I've been a fountain pen fiend since middle school and cut my teach on how to use them when they made the cheap ones with colored ink). Anyway, I know Amazon has a good selection of those. For those who are scared of ink leaks there is always a nice fountain pen.  Either way, a nice pen is distinguished, stylish and definitely glamourous. This is the one I use now. But, yeah, I've got a few of them.

Regina Walton is a Seoul-based journalist and blogger. She interviewed fashionista Diane Pernet for DG.

Penny For The Guy? Bonfire Night

Vforvendetta
Remember, Remember
The fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

In 1605, a gang of Roman Catholic conspirators--Robert Catesby, Thomas Winter, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Guy Fawkes--plotted to blow up the British Houses of Parliament. Fawkes, who'd served in the Spanish army, stashed  twenty barrels of gunpowder in the cellar, intending to explode them, and blow  Protestant King James I, his queen and other assorted royals to kingdom-come.   Best laid plans, etc., and  all  concerned ended up being executed for treason.  A grateful Parliament proclaimed November 5th as a national holiday.

Tonight , the British and members of the Commonwealth  will light bonfires,  the Parliament guards will conduct a ceremonial search for lurking miscreants, children will go around with dummy Guys demanding money, and a foiled arson attempt is celebrated with fireworks.  Well, yes.  In New Zealand, caution is urged which rather spoils the whole idea.

The 2005  film V for Vendetta featured a mysterious anarchist in a Guy Fawkes mask, although most Americans probably took him for Zorro.

Everyday's A Holiday, And The Holiday Is Always Halloween: Elvira

Elvira1 Before Goth became a mall-rat style choice, there was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. In 1981, Cassandra Peterson hosted a syndicated horror movie TV show, and a cult favorite was born. Peterson, a member of the Groundlings improv troupe, combined sexiness, camp and a genuine enthusiasm for low-budget gore flicks.

She's even looking for her own protege, via a FOX reality show.

KCRW asked her to guest-DJ and she's got a Halloween playlist, featuring herself, of course.