Elvis kissed me on the cheek. He was wearing a velvet red cape, and his white pantsuit sparkled when he moved. His hair was black, brushed in a pompadour, and in a voice as thick and Southern as blackstrap molasses he whispered, "Come here, darlin'."
My heart went aflutter.
Friday, Jan. 7, Experience Music Project (EMP) and KEXP 90.3's Shake the Shack hosted the ninth annual Elvis Invitationals. Elvis impersonators took to the stage, wiggled their hips and sang of blue suede shoes and fools falling in love.
"There is a certain mystique about the guy," said Scott Haylock, a well-dressed Elvis with hip movements to match. "The energy just increases when he walks into the room."
Friday night with 28 Elvii in the room, the energy was high, and one couldn't help but feel all shook up.
"I'm the Kentucky Fried Chicken-lovin' Elvis," said Jon Van Hurston, a rookie Elvis who handsomely filled out his pantsuit. "This is the first time that I have ever worn the outfit - it just feels like a little bit of heaven."
The event, hosted by well-known Seattle comedian Kathy Sorbo, featured Elvii in all shapes and sizes. There was even one lone girl Elvis.
"I see people reaching up to touch the legs," commented Sorbo, attesting to the true star appeal of the Elvii on stage. While Elvis crooned, the ladies squealed.
"He was a man," said Dan Dornoff, a self-proclaimed serious Elvis impersonator. "Nobody has ever been quite like him. He has universal appeal, from little kids to old ladies. He is the King - what else can I say?"
Dornoff, an Alaska Airlines employee, has a 16-month grandson who saw a picture of Elvis, pointed to it and tried to sound out the word El-vis.
"I was impressed," said Dornoff. "When it comes to singers recognized all around the world, he is the one."
"Even Bono of U2 considers him the greatest male vocalist of all time," said Kevin Fitzpatrick, an Elvis who, during the day, works for the Department of Ecology in the water quality section.
Fitzpatrick, clad in a purple satin jumpsuit handmade by his wife Annette, sang "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear" while Annette, a University of Washington professor, dressed up as his back-up bear.
"This is my first time on stage," she explained; she'd decorated her bear head to match her husband's pantsuit. "We embarrass our children to death, but we want them to understand how fun this is. It's also very weird - but it's so weird that it's fun."
Weird or not, when the dancing bear and her Elvis took to the stage, true romance was in the air. While Elvis Fitzpatrick made the crowd scream, life-size teddybear Annette danced around the stage and shook her bear tail.
"The more that I got into this, the more I began to realize how truly talented Elvis was," commented Kevin, who may have one of the coolest wives in the world. "He had an incredible voice range. He was just truly one of a kind."
While the night was filled with bright lights and glitzy glasses, attendants and Elvii shared an honest reverence for the King. Elvis was remembered as talented, funny and, above all, generous.
"Elvis is pretty endearing," said Joe Ross, an audience member who has been to Graceland. "He is cheesy, kind of like Liberace and Neil Diamond, and there is that element of pop schlock.
"That is what makes the Elvis cult possible, and that is what makes all of this so great."
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