|hen Mojo Nixon sang Elvis is Everywhere, he was right. Theres the International Elvis Impersonators as well as the National Amateur Elvis Impersonators, which, by the way, is organized and run by a man in San Francisco who calls himself Nude Elvis. True story.
In fact, theres an Elvis for everybody. Theres ethnicity, such as El Vez the Mexican Elvis, Black Elvis, Chinese Elvis, and Jewish Elvis. Elvis by sexual orientation: Elvis the Drag King and Elvis Herselvis, a lesbian. And theres blue collar, white collar, and every job in between: Physicist Elvis, Columnist Elvis, Executive Elvis, Police Sergeant Elvis, and Ski Instructor Elvis. Elvis with a cause: Altruistic Elvis, and Green E, an environmentalist who sings protest songs clad in a Las Vegas jumpsuit. And, of course, the fringe Elvises: bearded Elvis, BBQ Elvis, disabled but still singing Elvis, wears size 11D shoes Elvis, even the ghost of Elvis.
Why have so many adopted the glitter-and-rhinestones image of Elvis and made it their own? A sign of the times? Imitation leather, egg substitute, and I Cant Believe Its Not Butter have become hallmarks of our homes in this age of virtual reality. Checkout line magazines promise 10 Tips for Total Makeover Tonight! Have we finally achieved the American Dream our pilgrim ancestors envisioned when they escaped the confines of Old World class and social estate? Horatio Algers all, we claim a uniquely American birthright. We can start over, ride into town like Shane, and leave again. We can don masks like the Lone Ranger and assume new identities. To morph is to be American. But to be or not to be Elvis? That is the question.
|t his peak, Elvis Presley was indeed the King. He tore backbeat blues and gospel from the Southern swamps and cranked it into a pulsing, pounding, driving force that became rock n roll. But its been about 22 years since Elvis died, alone in his bathroom, bloated and bleary with drugs. Had the King died during his black leather-clad comeback year of 1968, we might still think of him as Elvis the Pelvis. What has been fixed in our generations eyesthe baby boomers babies, born too late to remember the real Elvisis the TV-shooting, pill-popping, rhinestone-studded lounge act.
The image of Elvis today is no longer that of a king, but of the court jester. And the various Elvis impersonators fill the roleto distract and entertain, to be ridiculous. With just a few accessories, anyone can be Elvis. All it takes is a black wig, Foster Grant sunglasses, and that un-hun-hun lip curl.
|he Elvis that Lomond plays does not dose on uppers and sleep with showgirls; Elvis according to Lomond sets a godly example. At the Riverpark Nursing Home, many patients stricken with Alzheimers disease cant recognize their own children. But when Lomond walks in some grin and say, Hi, Elvis. Often, the next time he visits, a few of the residents have passed away. And you think, says Lomond, that was the last birthday they had, and youre glad you gave them that song. He pauses. Really glad.
Some Elvis impersonators wont even sing birthday telegrams, Lomond explains with disgust: Theyre like, Well, Im Elvis. As he ends another song for the Wal-Mart employees, he pokes fun at himself and all the Elvis impersonators who take themselves too damn seriously. He jokes about living next door to Wal-Mart. Guess Ill probably see a lot of you, he says to the employees. Like when I come in for Band-Aids and stuff. They laugh. People get mad at me because I get to go to the front of the line, he says. But hey, Im Elvis. Again they laugh, and he laughs, too.
Then he struts over to a short, middle-aged woman with corn-colored hair and pulls her to her feet. He drapes his arm around her shoulders, made wider by pads. She wears a red long-sleeved shirt with a V-neck and a burst of small silver baubles on the front. Looks like she got the same tailor, Lomond jokes. He drapes a silk scarf around her neck. She blushes as red as her shirt. He tries to work the crowd by giving scarves to more women, who shrink away in embarrassment. The men in the audience scowl: Stay away from my wife, Pelvis Man.