- A road less traveled: Cassandra Petersons career path has taken her from Palmer High School to Las Vegas stages, the Playboy Mansion and TV fame.
First things first: We did not find Ted Haggard for this story. Of course, we'd love to know in what motif the former New Life Church leader has decorated his underground bunker, and whether the whole sexuality-reprogramming thing is really as tricky as it seems. But without walkie-talkies, a GPS system and truth-serum-sniffing dogs, we figured the resources we do have might be better used elsewhere.
Plus, there are plenty of other deserving local (or once-local) targets for idle "Where are they now?" curiosity. We believe we've included a sampling of them here, with single representatives from the religious, business and athletic communities, along with arts and entertainment and media. And then, of course, there's Elvira, who defies categorization.
We hope to track down many others in the future. If you've got suggestions for "Where are they now?" subjects, we'd love to see them; please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, and enjoy.
Better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Night
Unlike Colorado Springs' other icons, Elvira known to friends and family as Cassandra Peterson speaks to the quiet but persistent subversion in this city.
Beyond the James Dobsons and the Ted Haggards, there she is: a vampy, ghoulish gem, all beehive hair and parchment white cleavage, all sass and snark, reminding us that the city's conservatism belies a dark theatrical history.
Peterson, along with erstwhile locals Lon Chaney and John Cameron Mitchell (writer and star of tranny musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch), reveals that this city births the pert as well as the pious.
"Oh my god, all the freaks come from Colorado Springs," Peterson said in a recent phone interview from her office in Los Angeles. "What is it about that place? Where you have a lot of religion, you have a lot of people trying to get away from the conservative point of view."
Peterson, best known as host of the 1980s TV show Movie Macabre, spent only 10 years in the Springs. But we can, and do, still claim her as our own. When Peterson puts on the slit black dress, she says, she transforms into her "teenage personality," the girl from Colorado Springs.
Born in Kansas, Peterson and her family evacuated their town when it was flooded to create a dam. Dozens of her cousins relocated across the state line, joining an aunt who lived in Manitou Springs. At 7 years old, a shy, withdrawn Peterson enrolled at Ivywild Elementary. When she was a toddler, she had pulled a tub of boiling Easter eggs off of the stove, burning over a third of her body. She was teased because of her scars.
But Peterson soon outgrew her timidity. In the summers, she would ride her horse to The Broadmoor with a friend and go swimming in the lake. She watched American Indians perform in Manitou's parks, and she played in the old arcade.
She also developed a penchant for the sinister. She collected Frankenstein model kits and watched Vincent Price films at the since-demolished Chief Theater downtown. She remembers going to school in costumes she picked up at a store owned by her mother and aunt, called Peterson's Playland (now Ivywild Costumes on South Tejon).
- Peterson (right) with family at Garden of the Gods.
"I was into horror in a big way," she says. "My favorite show was first the "Twilight Zone' and then later the "Addams Family.' There was some Elvira going on there."
But it wasn't until high school that Peterson became a performer. As a Palmer High student, she danced in Colorado Springs' enlisted men's and officers' clubs. Wearing short fringe dresses and white boots, she shimmied in a glass cage at now-shuttered clubs Hullabaloo and A Go-Go.
During spring break of her senior year at Palmer, Peterson traveled with her parents to Las Vegas, where a maitre d' at a club mistook her for a showgirl. She auditioned for a summer performance of Viva Les Girls and signed onto the cast before she left.
"I went home, graduated [in 1969] and left the same day," says Peterson. "I ended up being the youngest showgirl ever to work in Las Vegas. My parents had to sign a release. I wasn't allowed to go into the casino or drink or gamble. I had to come and go by the back door."
The next three and a half decades included a date with Elvis Presley (he supposedly convinced her to leave Las Vegas), a role in Federico Fellini's Fellini's Roma and the 1981 creation of Elvira. In her title character, Peterson became the first person telecast in 3-D and the first female spokesperson for Coors beer. She also appeared at Halloween events and in gay-pride parades around the country.
Peterson returned to Colorado Springs at least once a year, though few recognized the natural redhead.
"I once boycotted coming there for three years because of the whole gay thing," she says, recalling the Amendment 2 initiative in the early 1990s. "When they had the ban on gay everything, I couldn't believe it. I thought, "What is happening to my state?'"
She recently came back for her aunt's funeral. She stayed at The Broadmoor with her 12-year-old daughter, visiting Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Seven Falls. But she won't return for good. The Christian contingent she calls Haggard the "Crystal Methodist" has dissuaded her.
"It disturbs me that it is getting so righty-right wing now," Peterson says. "Colorado Springs is the bastion. Let me tell you, it is a deterrent to me coming there. I would love to move back to Colorado Springs. But with the political and religious climate there the way it is, there is no way in hell."
Now 55 and living in Los Angeles, she's filming an upcoming reality-TV series to find and train an extra Elvira who will do public appearances. She also popped up on Girls Next Door, the Playboy bunny TV show. ("I've known Hugh Hefner for years and years," she says. "I've been to the mansion many times.")
An animal-rights activist with PETA, she recently hinted at a presidential run, saying, "I figure since there are two boobs in office, they might as well be mine."
Asked if she had a message for Colorado Springs, Peterson says only this:
"It's a beautiful town, and I hope everyone keeps it that way. I hope it doesn't grow too big and get dirty and polluted like other cities. It is such a beautiful, beautiful place." NZ
Judy and Dick Noyes
Beloved Chinook Bookstore owners
- Visit the Bay Area, and you may hear Craig Coffey on the radio.
For someone who devoted 45 years to bringing the finest written words to Colorado Springs, Judy Noyes speaks three simple ones to describe retirement.
"Life is good."
Like many retirees, former Chinook Bookstore owners Dick and Judy Noyes have built a life around things they've always loved to do and things they've never done before. In the former category would fall gardening, seeing their three kids and eight grandkids and, yes, reading.
"We take time over the morning papers, or to sit down in the afternoon, and just read," Judy says. "When you've got a retail business, even surrounded by books ... there never was enough time to read all you wanted."
But three years after closing their downtown shop ("Promise of spring fulfilled," May 13, 2004, csindy.com/csindy/2004-05-13/cover.html), the Noyeses hardly wile away their days in the Skyway home they built more than 35 years ago. Both still are involved in civic activities, especially those that help the downtown area where they built their legendary business. They are on the Pikes Peak Library District Foundation board, and Judy serves on the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority, the Downtown Partnership Board, Community Ventures, the Fine Arts Center Advisory Board and the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.
And then there's the stuff their schedule never really allowed them to do, like travel.
"We've been quite a few places since we retired," Judy says. "Europe and Mexico, places in the U.S., and Japan is on the horizon. Mostly, though, we seem to go to France."
Lovely, for sure. But we have to ask: Do they miss the store?
"We do miss the store in the sense that we miss our wonderful staff we spent so many years with, and we miss seeing our customers every day, because we felt we saw most interesting people in town all the time," Judy says. "It was a wonderful life, a wonderful profession." KW
Popular local radio DJ
After seven years of radio work in Colorado Springs, Craig Coffey (formerly of KVUU-FM My 99.9's Coffey in the Morning), packed his bags and headed to Seattle last summer, alongside his wife and pets.
"I was in the running for an afternoon-drive position up here," Coffey says. "But in radio, it takes a long time for things to happen. That's good and bad."
It's good because it turns out that in the meantime, another position opened up one during the higher-profile morning drive slot. And it's bad because, even though Coffey was offered the slot, he knew he'd have to wait until January to start. So instead of spending his days on the air, Coffey kept busy by playing golf and watching movies.
"It wasn't a bad life," he jokes, "unless you love your job and you like being busy."
- A well-deserved retirement has allowed Judy and Dick Noyes to travel much of the world but they always come back to Colorado Springs.
And then came another curveball. Coffey's contact at the radio station he had hoped to work for moved down to Portland, Ore. And with her, left all of the promises she had made.
At something of a crossroads, Coffey began working fill-in shifts at a Seattle-based Entercom radio station. Turns out it was a good idea. After biding his time on KKWF-FM 100.7 The Wolf, Coffey's boss let him in on a little secret: He was moving to San Francisco to open a recently reformatted station there. And he wanted Coffey to come along with him to be his morning jock.
So last week, Coffey returned to the morning drive for a two-week trial run in San Francisco on a station he says is similar in format to local CKTY-FM Cat Country 95.1, "only more in-your-face."
"Moving sucks," Coffey says, "but luckily, most of our stuff is still in boxes."
And moving woes aside, Coffey is excited about the new opportunity and the prospect of having some job security.
"San Francisco's a great city," he says. "And if the morning thing doesn't work out, I'll be doing another position for them." PF
One-time up-and-coming music sensation
In 2004, then-17-year-old country singer Summer Hartbauer appeared to be the Next Big Thing slated to leave Colorado Springs. She was playing solo shows in Denver, auditioning for "Star Search" and getting calls from music label representatives in Los Angeles. We at the Indy thought pretty highly of her, too, and dedicated a cover story to her reach for fame ("Almost Famous ... Almost," Feb. 5, 2004, csindy.com/csindy/2004-02-05/cover.html).
So where's Summer been? Well, after attending Belmont University in Nashville for a semester, Hartbauer dropped out and returned to the Springs a homesick 18-year-old only to head back out to Nashville a year later. She's been bartending, waiting tables and performing at songwriter's nights in Tennessee ever since.
"It's how you get started in Nashville," Hartbauer says earnestly. "And I'm having a lot of fun with it."
But the original dream of making it big as a performer has fizzled, at least somewhat. It's been four months since Hartbauer, now 21, has performed in front of anyone. She's still writing, she says, but not as much as she used to.
"I admit, to this day, I haven't pursued it as much [as I should have]," she says. "But I was kind of forcing the music all the time and forcing my passion."
So is music stardom still her dream? She says she's not so sure. Maybe it is. Or maybe she'd like to own a restaurant. Or become a chef.
"I don't know what I want to do," Hartbauer says. "But I know I want to have fun." PF
- Since 2004, Terry Dunn has shaped Dartmouth Colleges student-athletes.
Longtime Harrison High School boys basketball coach
You can imagine the family of any high school basketball star feeling good about Terry Dunn spending an evening at the dinner table. His voice has a calm, easy flow. He effortlessly slips your name into conversation, so you know you've got his full attention. And he puts you right albeit gently when need be.
Like when you mention that stretch from last season, when his Dartmouth College men's team won five out of six games.
"Six out of seven," he says.
Unfortunately for Dunn, every win really did matter last year, when his men's basketball team went 9-18 overall, and 4-10 in the Ivy League. It's a far cry from the success he enjoyed as Harrison High School's boys basketball head coach (as well as athletic director and dean of students) through most of the 1980s. But Dunn isn't complaining; he can chalk up a number of last year's losses to injuries and youth. And, he says, he's got his dream job with a Division I program.
"Once I left Harrison High School [in 1990], once I got into the college coaching business, my objective was to become a college head coach," he says. "There were some avenues and different roads I had to travel."
And so, as an assistant coach, Dunn traveled to West Point (1990-91), then the Air Force Academy ('91-94), Colorado State University ('94-96) and the University of Colorado ('96-2004). That last stop afforded him the chance to coach in the NCAA Tournament, and to coach future NBA All-Star Chauncey Billups, among others.
He was announced as Dartmouth's 26th head coach in May 2004. In his first season, he engineered the second-best turnaround in Ivy League men's basketball history, bringing the Big Green from 1-13 in the Ivy League to 7-7.
As he approaches his fourth season (career record: 26-55), Dunn is pretty well settled in Hanover, N.H., but he still has ties to the Colorado Springs area. His in-laws live here, as well as many friends and former coworkers. Perhaps most notably, his daughter Tara will graduate from the Air Force Academy in May.
And, he says, he has good memories of Colorado Springs.
"I don't consider it as a stepping stone," Dunn says of his time at Harrison. "I consider it a great proving ground." KW
Polarizing All Souls church leader
- Three years ago, the Springs Summer Hartbauer aspired to music stardom. Today? I dont know what I want to do. But I do know I want to have fun.
Before Rev. Orloff Miller came to Colorado Springs in the late 1960s, he was attacked on the streets of Selma, Ala., for marching with Martin Luther King Jr. He and two other Unitarian Universalist clergy were pummeled by segregationists as they left a caf; his colleague James Reeb died when he was clubbed from behind.
Three years later, in 1968, Miller became minister of All Souls Unitarian Church (now All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church) on North Tejon Street in Colorado Springs. The city didn't feel the sweltering racial tensions of the South, but it had tribulations of its own.
Miller, who rode a Lambretta motor scooter to church, threw himself into the local anti-war movement. He staged candlelight vigils at draft board offices, assisted war resistors, and announced his personal protest his refusal to pay income taxes at church. The IRS eventually seized the All Souls bank account.
Miller opened the church to the various anti-war groups, including Students for a Democratic Society, which was turned away from Colorado College. A gay Christian group met there, as well as the National Organization for Women.
Once Colorado liberalized its abortion laws, Miller helped connect women to abortion providers and adoption agencies. He taught a course on law enforcement and race relations at Fort Carson and spoke to black prisoners in Cañon City. He also served as chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.
But Miller's involvement in local human rights issues divided the church; in 1972, he was asked to leave.
He moved to California and later became involved with AIDS work, creating his own Unitarian Universalist AIDS crisis ministry to support victims and educate the public. He met his future wife, a German woman, at a Humanist gathering where they comforted each other over the loss of another minister to AIDS.
Miller, now retired, eventually moved to southwestern Germany, where he volunteered as minister-at-large for European Unitarian Universalists.
Thirty-five years after his departure from Colorado Springs, Miller communicated with the Independent via e-mail from Germany. His lasting impression of the city is "a living reminder of U.S. President Eisenhower's warning against the dominating influence of our military-industrial complex against a backdrop of unmatched natural beauty."
Though Miller, now 75, left before evangelical Christians made the city into a home base, he remembers Colorado Springs as "mostly peopled by more conservative churches from its early beginnings. The exceptions were the Yankees who founded Colorado College and later the nearby All Souls Unitarian Church."
Miller's message to current and past All Souls congregants is simpler, but just as weighty, as his doings in Colorado Springs.
"May you find and share both peace and love!" NZ
Contributors include Pete Freedman, Kirk Woundy and Naomi Zeveloff.
And don't forget about ...
- Now retired, Rev. Orloff Miller lives in Germany.
Most area rock 'n' roll aficionados have spent more than a few evenings over the years dancing and partying to the sounds of Flash Cadillac (pictured right). The group, which formed in Boulder in 1969, cracked the national scene, most notably playing for the movies American Graffiti and Apocalypse Now as well as providing the theme music for the weekly nationally syndicated radio show Super Gold.
Flash Cadillac eventually headquartered outside of Woodland Park, often playing area bars and venues under the name "Sammy and the Sarcastics." Most fans assumed the band would never return after the unexpected death in 2001 of lead singer Sam McFadin (left in photo).
However, the group added new members without losing its style or identity, and Flash plays on in 2007 with dates across the country and occasionally in the Springs. Warren Knight, who played bass and provided vocals from the start, still is part of the band (right in photo).
The group will play a June 30 concert with the Pueblo Symphony and also has a scheduled date at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium on Sept. 15.
Ken Dowlin, Bernie Margolis, Patrick Losinski, Jose Aponte
Pikes Peak Library District directors
During the past three decades, the position of director of the Pikes Peak Library District has served as an impressive springboard. The past four directors have gone on to major career moves from Colorado Springs.
Ken Dowlin headed the local library from 1975 to 1987 and pushed various innovations, most notably the world's first computerized catalogue system for a library, which started in 1977. Dowlin left to become director of the San Francisco City Library. About five years ago, he moved down the Bay Area to take over the distance-learning program at San Jose State University. He retired from San Jose State last spring and since has been traveling the country with his wife in their RV.
Bernie Margolis took over for Dowlin in 1988 and stayed until 1997, a period of continued growth for the local library district. He departed to accept the position of president at the Boston Public Library, where he remains today.
Patrick Losinski was the next PPLD director, serving from 1997 to 2002. He left to become executive director of the Columbus (Ohio) Metro Library system, and he is still in that position.
Jose Aponte replaced Losinski in January 2003 and supervised the PPLD operation until 2005, when he accepted the job he still holds today as director of the sprawling San Diego County library system.
After leading the local Temple Shalom for five years, Rabbi Anat Moskowitz gave her last sermon to the congregation on April 2006. Today, Rabbi Moskowitz can be found teaching classes as an adjunct professor for Colorado College's religion department.
When most longtime area residents think about the Colorado Springs Symphony, they think of Chris Wilkins. The Boston-born conductor, who earned his bachelors degree at Harvard University (1978) and a masters at Yale University (1981), served as music director of the Colorado Springs Symphony from 1989 to 1996.
Wilkins moved on to take over the San Antonio (Texas) Symphony from 1996 to 2005. From there, he assumed the dual roles of heading the Akron (Ohio) Symphony as well as the Orlando (Fla.) Philharmonic. He took over as music director of the Orlando Philharmonic starting with the 2006-07 season.
Meteorologists have it about as rough as meter maids when it comes to taking heat from the public. One rained-out picnic, and it's the guy in front of the green screen whose name is paired with random curse words.
So whatever happened to KRDO-TV's Craig Setzer? (Yeah, that f@#$ing guy!)
Well, he still has his head in the clouds as the executive producer and meteorologist for CBS-4 in Miami-Fort Lauderdale. According to his online biography, the tornado chaser presents regular weathercasts at 10 p.m. and otherwise spends as much time as possible racing sailboats, a hobby he must have had significantly more trouble nurturing when he lived in our landlocked state.
Arts center director
Under the direction of current president Michael De Marsche and with a little hype-help from artist Dale Chihuly, the FAC is reinventing itself turning from a stuffy, sleepy museum into the happening art spot. But De Marsche's predecessor was no slouch, either.
David Turner held the position of director at the FAC for about five years. Under Turner's direction, the FAC won the Governor's Award in 1999 for its building upgrades and exhibition programs.
After leaving the Springs in February 2003, Turner started as director of the Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, his alma mater. He walked right into a $14 million expansion, and he led the university to reopen the museum as the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in January 2005.
Turner held his position at the museum until the end of 2006. Just three months ago, he moved into full-time teaching at the University of Oregon's Art and Architecture Department, according to the school.
Compiled by Kirsten Akens, Ralph Routon and Matthew Schniper.