Caught in a Trap
Far from Las Vegas, in the small coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, Elvis lives through the enthusiasm of fans and the talent of Elvis Tribute Artists brought together for the Georgia Elvis Festival celebrating the music of the King. The artists (ETAs) dress in elaborate costumes depicting Elvis at various stages of his career; from a teen singing Spinout, to older artists belting out Suspicious Minds, to a seventy-three year-old retiree trying to keep his balance through Vegas Elvis-type stage antics., An audience filled with AARP-age groupies swoons, and grabs for scarves as if the original was gyrating on the stage. Pros (at least 60% of income from performing) and non-pros compete is separate categories. In the afternoons, the non-pros work to fill the theater. At night, headliners (pros) have standing-room-only crowds; every one of them looking forward to the after party. Some wear wigs, some dye their hair black and grow mutton chop sideburns. Studded, jeweled, and polyester – the suits can cost $4,000 and up, mimicking the original stretch gabardine suits worn by Elvis in the 70s. To complete the total look, costume jewelry bearing TCB and with names like “The Burning Love” ring adorn fingers on each hand and hang from chains around open v-necks showing a lot of skin. Out on the street, in daylight, stage make up takes on a strange appearance giving the ETAs the look of severe spray tans. Fans are just as bedazzled as the performers wearing their love of Elvis and individual performers on shirts, necklaces, and handbags. We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out – and yes, I will be there next year.