The Men Who Should Be King
|Elvis admirers strike a pose at Graceland.|
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Elvis Presley must be tossing and turning in his Graceland tomb, wondering where he went wrong. Maybe he’ll rise from the dead one day to set the record straight, but until then, the endless parade of imitation Elvis resurrections will continue to thrive as the most alluring sideshow in American culture.
On Saturday, June 16, an army of Elvis clones will invade the BJCC Ballroom to compete in the inaugural Elvis in Dixieland Impersonator Contest. The winner will jet up Highway 78 to Memphis in August to compete for the title True King in the “Images of Elvis Contest,” the most bizarre event of the sacred vigil known as “Death Week.”
The impersonator contest is sponsored by B&K Enterprises, “a household name in the custom costume world.” Internationally acclaimed for authentic reproductions of Elvis costumes, Elvis jumpsuits, and Elvis accessories, B&K Enterprises employs patterns and techniques handed down from original Elvis-wear designers Bill Belew and Gene Doucette. Jumpsuits go for as high as $4,000, capes up to $2,400, and belts for $350. The company also manufactures Elvis-style eyeglasses by Dennis Roberts, the original designer who created 488 pairs of eyeglasses for the King from 1970 to 1977. Roberts also created Presley’s classic “TCB with lightening bolt” necklace.
The host of the contest will be David Lee, who bills himself as “Birmingham’s Favorite Elvis Entertainer.” Lee is also a member of the Professional Elvis Impersonators Association (PEIA), an international organization that promotes “the advancement of Elvis Presley’s music and Style [sic] throughout the world. PEIA’s code of Ethics includes the promise to “not physically, mentally, psychologically, (or) verbally abuse or slander other performers or members.”
First prize will be $1,000 cash; other prizes include a replica of Elvis’ “Aloha” belt and custom-made “puffy-sleeve” satin shirts from B&K Enterprises. Part of the proceeds from the impersonator contest will benefit Grace House Ministries..” Advance tickets are $4 for adults, and $2 for ages 6 through 12. At the door, it’s $5 for adults.