Monthly Archives: July 2005


Have you folks been to an Elvis festival yet?  You should try one sometime; they’re a lot of fun.  I haven’t visited any of the others, but it’s hard to imagine them being better than the festival at Collingwood, Ontario, two hours north of Toronto, on the banks of the Georgian Bay and ten minutes from the Blue Mountain resort area.


I like the Friday night street concert where over 130 “Elvises” go up on stage and sing one song each.  The various competitions are great (those 7 and 8 year old kids are a hoot), and the special shows put on by the really good professional tribute artists give you a first class Elvis experience.  I marvel at the ladies going up to the stage to get a scarf and a kiss, and coming back to their seats absolutely thrilled.


But the best thing about the Collingwood Elvis festival for me is the vendor area with those tables of Elvis goodies.  This year I asked some vendors to show me their most unusual Elvis items, and here are a few:


A 1962 “Elvis Coloring Contest” sponsored by the movie, “Girls, Girls, Girls.”  You colored in the picture based on the film, and mailed it in, and if you won, the prize was free tickets to the movie.  Only $5


A 16-inch high cookie-jar shaped like a jukebox.  Every time you lift off the top, it plays “All Shook Up.”  Very cool.  $35, probably negotiable.


A 36” wide bead curtain.  This would be perfect for the folks with a whole room devoted to Elvis.  The medium was actually not beads, but thin 2”long straw-like tubes.  Printed on the tube curtain was a sharp picture of Elvis in the “68 Comeback” black-leather outfit over a background of deep red.  Very impressive.  A steal at $45.


One last story about the Friday Night Street Concert.  The Casino Brothers Band backs everybody for the whole seven hours, so they need breaks every once in a while.  However, the show continues with singers performing to Karaoke back-up. One young fellow was getting wound up pretty good when he got to the instrumental bridge, and he yelled out “Play it, James,” although the stage was empty except for him.  I love the goofy stuff in Elvis world.


© 2005  Philip R Arnold

Elvira and Elvis

Elvira, the campy Mistress of the Dark, has an interesting website, and she waits until only line six in her bio to mention her “evening with Elvis.”  She’s not telling much, however.  Just that he saw her perform as a Las Vegas showgirl and encouraged her to pursue a singing career.  Boy, did she leave out the good part.




Cassandra Peterson created her Elvira persona in 1981, but back in 1969 she was just a 17 year old, struggling showgirl.  According to an August 3, 1997 article by Ruthe Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle, a friend of Cassandra’s managed to get them both invited to a party at Elvis’ penthouse suite.  Elvis liked to be around showgirls, and on this night he took an interest in Cassandra.  “Elvis singled me out,” she said.  “I sat at the piano and he played songs for me.”


Later, in a more private setting, they talked all night, and a variety of subjects were broached.  Elvis told her he was very spiritual and discussed numerology.  He showed her a jewel-encrusted belt buckle – a present from President Richard Nixon.  “It was the biggest, gaudiest thing I had ever seen, and he was just so thrilled with it, like he was a little kid.”


She told him she smoked marijuana and that she was a virgin, and both revelations had an effect on Elvis.  He lectured her on the evils of pot and marveled that there actually was a showgirl virgin in Las Vegas.  After a while, she came to a realization.  “It was clear that he was not going to, like, hit on me.  I could kick myself now for telling him.”  Twenty-eight years after that night, Elvira admitted, “It would have been great to have him as my first lover.  If it’s got to be somebody, it might as well be Elvis.” 


How’s that for an understatement?



©  2005    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved

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Once again, I have found convincing proof that Elvis’ hold on American culture is unmatched by any other popular icon.  He keeps showing up in the most unexpected places.  For example, the animated movie “Quest For Camelot.” 


This is a 1998 release from Warner Brothers Animation, following right after their huge success with “Space Jam.”  It features the voice talents of many notable actors, including Pierce Brosnan, Jane Seymour, John Gielgud, and Gary Oldham.  The story is yet another variation on the fables about King Arthur, Excalibur, and the Knights of the Round Table.  The main villain has lots of black magic, and he uses it against the young hero and heroine during their quest to find the stolen Excalibur and return it to the king.  Of course, there was lots of action and heroics galore.


There is also a love story, four songs (Celine Dion provides the voice for one), and humor.  The comic relief in this movie comes from a timid two-headed dragon named Devon (Eric Idle) and Cornwall (Don Rickles).  He/they can’t fly, can’t breath fire, and can’t get along with each other.  They are constantly quibbling, which leads to a duet on the song, “I Can Get Along Without You.”


The song is standard soundtrack pop music, but the big finale is belted out in heavy blues fashion, similar to the way Elvis ended “I Got A Woman.”  The dragon suddenly has on a white, Las Vegas-style Elvis jumpsuit.  Both heads have black Elvis hair, and they wear his trademark sunglasses.  The choreography even has a couple of classic Elvis moves.  Now, I’ve seen everything: A two-headed dragon in a sword and sorcery movie doing Elvis.  He really is everywhere.


I went the dentist this week to have a permanent crown put on a lower molar.  As the assistant struggled to remove the temporary cap, it popped off and landed at the back of my mouth.  My throat closed reflexively, so I did not swallow the crown, but there were a few scary seconds while she fished it out.


Once the crown was safely back in her hand, I told her I was so glad I hadn’t swallowed it and mentioned that Elvis had done that once while filming a movie.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember any of the pertinent details, so later I scoured through my library of Elvis books to find the facts.


According to Elvis Presley – Unseen Archives, by Marie Clayton, Elvis did a rehearsal of the famous “Jailhouse Rock” dance routine with such abandon that he swallowed a temporary crown.  It lodged in his lung and had to be removed by surgery. 


Unfortunately, there was no description of what the surgery entailed. Another reference said he spent just one night at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital for this, so it must not have been too bad.  Still, I’m glad I didn’t swallow my crown.


© 2005  Philip R Arnold


The Fourth of July is nearly here, and Turner Classic Movies cable channel has a treat lined up for us Elvis fans.  How does nine straight hours of Elvis movies sound?  I probably won’t be up for the start of “Follow That Dream” at 6 AM, but I’ll watch “Kissin’ Cousins” at 8.  “Spinout” at 9:45 is a must, because it’s another chance to see Elvis and Shelly Fabares together.  She’s #1 on my list of favorite Elvis co-stars, and she looks so fine in this one.  I’ll skip “Double Trouble” at 11:30, so I can spend some time with the family over lunch.


Then, at 1:15, I will be parked in front of the TV to watch “Live A Little, Love A Little.”  Yes, I know this movie was made in 1968 when those last really crummy Elvis movies came out.  But it’s so bad, it’s good.  Actually, it's a bad movie with so many weird things in it, that it merits watching at every opportunity.  “Live A Little, Love A Little,” has been described as Elvis’ strangest movie, and here are some of the reasons.


The first dialog occurs on a beach when Elvis meets the very beautiful Michele Carey, and it takes her just 90 seconds to ask him if he wants to make love to her.  Wow.  I wonder how many times that happened to Elvis in real life.  Carey’s character spends the rest of the movie alternately screwing with Elvis’ mind and coming on to him.  About 30 minutes into the movie, Elvis has a fight with two guys.  One is his buddy (at that time), Red West, and Elvis really pounds him as the fight ends.  I supply my own dialog for this scene:  “That’s for writing that rotten book about me, you creep!”


Next up comes the famous dream sequence featuring the song, “The Edge Of Reality.”  The movie was made during the era when “trippin’” and “far out, man” were part of the popular vernacular, and the film’s director apparently wanted to connect Elvis to this culture.  He succeeded: it is a totally bizarre mess you can’t take your eyes off.  The ending has many colored spotlights swirling around Elvis, then shooting in to bathe him in light, and then darting away.  Definitely “trippin'.”


“Live A Little, Love A Little” is the only movie Elvis has sex in, but we don’t get to see anything about it.  We get a hint before it happens by seeing Elvis remove a board she had used to separate the bed into exclusive sides.  The next morning he finds her lipstick note on the mirror, “Thanks for making me a whole woman.”  I say, “Phooey.  Thanks for not even showing us the foreplay.”


Another anticipated moment in this movie is Elvis singing the original version of “A Little Less Conversation.”  The 2002 remix is better, but this version hold up well, and it’s fun to see the origin of the song.


Big thanks should go out to Turner Classic Movies for their Elvis Fest on the Fourth.  They’ve done this before and probably will again.  Far out, man.

© 2005  Philip R Arnold