Want to be Elvis? You’ll need more than blue suede shoes
I’d struggle to tell you more than one of the titles to Elvis Presley’s songs. And I certainly couldn’t name any of his movies.
His outfits are outrageous and from what I’ve seen of his wink and swaying hips it’d it be enough to make anyone gag.
But I’m completely mesmerised by the Elvis festival that’s happening in Parkes this week. And my question is: Why?
Some 10,000 people are expected to descend on the rural town for the festival-which officially started on Wednesday – to celebrate the “King’s” birthday today, January 8.
And organisers say most of them will arrive by the “Elvis express” and come dressed to the nines as either Elvis and Priscilla Presley. The town of Parkes itself will also be decked out. Transformed into a Las Vegas “strip” the city centre will be lined with buskers, concerts and there’s even a wedding chapel for those keen to renew their vows.
All this in honour of a man who has been dead for 33 years? The hysteria leaves a non-Elvis fan like me more than a little bemused. Not to mention curious.
I’d like to know what makes someone want to dress up in layers of acrylic and gold lame at the stickiest part of the Australian summer? And what was it about Elvis that generates enough interest that an entire NSW town is kidnapped for five whole days?
Silas Lulic has a fair idea.
He’s been doing Elvis impersonations since he was about 10 years old. He’s also the winner of two “Elvis idol” awards from the Parkes festival. And today he and wife Ivanka will be travelling from Melbourne so he can perform in this year’s show.
According to Silas it takes a lot of passion to be a great Elvis impersonator. And yesterday he told The Punch how he found it:
To be a great impersonator you’ve got to be a great fan. And I have loved Elvis ever since I can remember.
It all started in the 5th grade, I kind of got pushed into doing a little Elvis act and then a few more in a talent contest in my high school years.
Even back then my peers thought I had something. But I think I was unaware of it at the time and decided that it must have come natural to me ‘cause I’d been watching the old movies and concerts of the King all those years.
When I left high school I started working as an automotive body repairer because I’d always been interested in cars. But even then I felt something wasn’t right. And it wasn’t long before I decided to put on my blue suede shoes and do away with the overalls.
I started off performing local gigs around town and the more the audience liked my act the more I would do. Then I heard of an Elvis festival being held in Parkes NSW which holds an Elvis idol competition in January, so I decided to pack my things and go. It was kind of like a Graceland away from Graceland with thousands of Elvis fans crowded in a small town!
The competition was based on looks moves and voice, and I did the best I could on an outdoor stage in 40 degree heat.
I won ‘‘Elvis idol’’ in 2007 and returned in 2008 to win again. And I think it was then that what started out as my love for all things Elvis really blossomed into something much bigger.
I now perform to sell out shows in Parkes every year and also travel nation wide. I’ve got my mind set on overseas in the near future. I purchase my outfits from the USA B&K Enterprises who are responsible for supplying Elvis costumes to himself. As well as looking like the ‘King’ and sounding like him, it’s crucial to have outfits that are a close replica to the ones worn by him.
Just to name a few I have the gold lame made famous by Elvis in the 50’s the popular leather 1968 comeback special suit as well as the white dream suit and the poncho 70’s Vegas-style jumpsuit of that era.
I also have a replica GI Blues army movie outfit, 1957 teddy bear red & white western outfit, speedway movie jacket, jail house rock costume and viva Las Vegas movie outfit along, a collection of replica jewellery rings bracelets and necklaces.
As you can imagine it’s quite an expensive hobby, especially when it comes to performance guitars used by Elvis. I have seven in my collection at present and some are limited edition re issued Elvis replicas, others are custom built from scratch.
I guess it depends how fussy you are as I see myself as a bit of a perfectionist and last but not least I awarded myself with 1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, Elvis’s favourite choice in car.
To me Elvis was and is the greatest entertainer that ever lived. He had the whole package.
And I don’t think any other entertainer can compare or even come close to matching the charisma and impact he had on our lives.
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