In 1999 I spotted Cassandra Fever performing at a new night club in Long Beach, California and was completely awestruck. Not only did she literally tower over the competition at just over 6 feet, she buried her rivals on stage that night with her charisma and unleashed energy.
Over the last several years Cassandra and I have done television interviews, conventions and s together and she is not only the ultimate perfectionist, she is the consummate professional. And let’s not forget a great friend who’s always on time!
Cassandra’s beauty and perfection of her makeup are incredible and her on stage talent leaves one searching for descriptive words. She is also one of the wackiest people I know with a sly sense of humor that can light up any dreary moment.
When TG LIFE became a reality there was only one person I wanted as our first covergirl. Please allow me to introduce you to the incredible Cassandra Fever!
Gina Lance: Hello Cassandra! Welcome to TG LIFE. Can you give us a bit of background on yourself?
Cassandra Fever: Okay, well for those who are not familiar with me, my real name is Christian Greenia. I'm from Newport Beach California, and I am a professional female impersonator who goes by the name Cassandra Fever. I've been in the Drag business for eleven years. Before I was a female impersonator, I was a "regular" actor and a model who was just sort of struggling along and going to my little auditions. Unfortunately, as myself, I looked like every other guy in Hollywood who was trying to make a buck and as a result I wasn't getting much out of it. Now, as Cassandra Fever, I'm not just one in a million and I've found a little niche for myself in the entertainment world by dressing up like a girl. That's the short version.
GL: How do you describe yourself in the transgendered spectrum?
CF: You know, it's amazing how many people don't know the difference between Transvestites, Transsexuals, and DragQueens. We all get lumped together most of the time. One is not unlike the other, yet we are all very different in our own right. At this point I would say I'm a cross between a drag queen, and an androgen. I use trans-gender or transvestite imagery for the sake of performance art. Basically I allow these wild, fantastic characters I create to use me. It's like that expression, "If you can dream it, you can be it". It took me awhile to decide where I lay in the scheme of things. I think I've really evolved over the years with the Cassandra Fever persona. Lately, I've delved into the androgyny aspect of things a lot more on stage, though I still see Cassandra as more of a visual female the majority of the time. I've always experimented with different looks and personas within the realm of Cassandra Fever. I like the idea of being extremely sexual, yet almost sexless all at once. Like, is it or isn't it? Like David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days. Without sounding horribly corny, the artistic life is expression through creation. When you have ideas, you want to express them. So if you have one good idea and it comes off well, that doesn't mean that, that's it. Life goes on, and as long as I'm inspired, Cassandra Fever will keep evolving.
GL: When did you first start going out dressed?
CF: I think I was seventeen or eighteen years old. I was getting some work as a professional Elvira impersonator. I had no clue what I was doing though. I was just like this little bunny hopping around, and I wasn't too sure where I was going with all of it. I just liked playing the Elvira character. At that point, I hadn't even considered any other looks. There was no Cassandra Fever; it was just myself (Christian) playing Elvira. Once I'd done a few shows, I caught on to the fact that I had to be a little more versatile with my drag persona and I created Cassandra Fever.
GL: Performing as Elvira – how did that start?
CF: I was working for the family business, which happened to be a costume shop. I practically grew up in the Halloween business so in turn, I'd been a fan of the Elvira character since I was very young. In Halloween of 1994, I got up the nerve to get all dressed up and go down to one of the local gay bars in Elvira drag - and in character, I handed out promotional cards for our store. I thought it was a great way to advertise all the cool stuff we sold. And it worked. By accident, I ran into the person in charge of the drag show at the club. Mind you, I'd never even seen a real drag show before. He asked me if I'd come back and do their Halloween show as Elvira, and the rest is history!
GL: Performing around Los Angeles – how long have you been doing that?
CF: I've been in the L.A club scene professionally since 1996. I started working at Rage on Thursday nights in Desiree La ' Les Fatals Drag Revue. It's hard to believe that was almost ten years ago. Time flys! Since then I've worked in every drag revue in Los Angeles.
GL: What has been your best experience performing?
CF: I don't know if I've had one best experience. Performing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with Cyndi Lauper at LA Pride waspretty cool. Also, playing Elvira with Cassandra Peterson by my side has been fun. We've pulled that stunt a few times now. I'd say just being a performer, being free to create, and meeting so many awesome people has been the best part of performing. It's a packaged deal.
GL: What has been your worst experience performing?
CF: Well now that is a little easier to pin point. You'd think it would be falling off a stage, or not getting paid for a gig, but no. Without naming any names or sounding like a whiny brat, I've had a couple falling outs with some of my fellow drag performers. People who I've known for a long time and really gave my trust to. People who I considered my true friends. They behaved so badly, and abused my trust relentlessly for selfish reasons. I cannot tolerate people who abuse trust. It sounds like stupid queeny drama, but it isn't. Abusing trust is the single worst thing you can do with me, no matter how naive that sounds. After that, I practically disappeared from everything for several months, because I felt like I couldn't trust anyone. It was a pretty rude awakening for me.
GL: What do you enjoy most about performing?
CF: As I said before, it's a total package. That's like asking me which child I like best. I love the creativity of it. I love the thundering applause I receive when I've served the children my best material. I love trying out different guises, as seeing what type of a reaction I get... or if I get any reaction at all. It is becoming increasingly challenging to entertain the kids these days. We live in the world of "been there, done that" and it's not just them. I have to entertain myself on stage. I don't want to do the same old routines over and over again, so for me to keep performing them, I have to give them something new. I breathe new life into them with new characters and arrangements.
GL: Working with Cassandra Peterson (Elvira) - how do you like that and what is your position?
CF: Well, as you know Cassandra Peterson and I have been friends for a number of years. I've been working full time for the "Elvira Business " since the beginning of the year. I'm her personal assistant of sorts. I wear several hats at work. I've been doing some graphic design for future Elvira merchandise, as well as styling new wigs for her, and working on her website www.elvira.com. In the midst of all that I run around town and take care of all the odds and ends for the office, and I stay at the house and take care of the animals for her while she goes out of town for appearances. People think Elvira goes to sleep on November 1st and wakes up again sometime in October, but believe it or not the Elvira business is in full force all year long. There is a lot of work involved and now, on the nights when I perform as Elvira, I start to feel like she has swallowed me up whole! But we have a great time working together, and I'm learning a lot from her about show business. She's given me some great advice to remember.
GL: Do you have any secrets about achieving poise?
CF: No... because I'm probably the clumsiest bitch you'll ever meet! Although, it's true what they say, "Never walk on soggy grass in high heels". AND - make sure that you can move easily in whatever it is you are wearing. The rest is just practice.
GL: What do you love most about being a ‘girl’?
CF: You mean aside from getting paid to look like one? Well, the makeup is fun to play with. Turning some heads is nice too, as long as those heads don't turn 365 degrees. Then it's just scary. But in truth, I suppose it's the challenge of seeing just how girly I can get. As myself, I'm a very "normal looking" guy (don’t faint). There is no trace of girl to me. So I guess it's the challenge of the transformation itself that thrills me most. If I'm a success at it, that's just a bonus. I'd hate to disappoint anyone by saying I don't get some sexual kick out of it, but the truth is, being in all that drag for long periods of time can be somewhat painful. My tolerance for the torture of high heels, wigs, fingernails and corsets is very low these days. I used to be able to go for hours in it. Especially on Halloween day when I'm Elvira for thirteen or fourteen hours. But when you do it so often and for so long, there comes a time when you say enough is enough.
GL: When you perform you are very serious and professional – what are your views on that?
CF: Marlene Dietrich once said, "It doesn't matter how you feel as long as you look good feeling it". I totally agree with that philosophy. And if there is one thing I can't stand, it's a tired, sloppy, unprofessional queen. The scene is just littered with them. I learned from other queens very early on that sloppy drag and lazy numbers won't get you the big bucks or booked in a professional show. Some of these girls I see trying to get into the business look like they've been up for too many days in a row, kept their wigs under a mattress, taken five minutes to put their face on, didn't even bother with putting on false eyelashes, and to top it all off, they can't seem to remember any of the words to their songs. Then they walk off the stage and pretend like the whole filthy thing never happened. It's just embarrassing. I'm actually embarrassed FOR them. I think that if you are going to bill yourself as a "professional female impersonator" and you want to be paid as such, then you had better be damn professional and take what you are doing seriously. I'm not saying that you have to treat it like government work, but it doesn't hurt to show some professionalism. If you don't care about what you are doing, then how in the hell can you expect anyone else to either?
GL: Can you tell us what your future goals might be?
CF: I never like to plan anything too far ahead anymore, because plans change. Hopefully I have a future in my contribution to the longevity of Elvira. I feel like I've been practicing for that job my whole life. I've also been working for three years on getting an elaborate drag show together in Newport Beach, California but every time I think it's a go, the club changes ownership, or the place closes, or someone gets hauled off to jail and everything falls to pieces. Entertainment is a tough business to be in!
GL: Well said. Thank you Cassandra for being yourself, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. And thanks for giving our readers an enlightening interview!