Elvis! He's EVERYWHERE~ Especially In Las Vegas!
Elvis Tribute Artists ~ Ambassadors For Las Vegas
Cruising the strip...
It seems you can't go ANYWHERE in Las Vegas without seeing at least one ELVIS impersonator, or someone who is trying to look as much like Elvis as possible! They are on street corners as you walk up and down the strip, and you can also see them over on Fremont Street. Fremont Street is referred to as the "Fremont Street Experience" and for good reason - it IS quite an experience! It is located in the section of Las Vegas sometimes referred to as "Old Las Vegas."
This is where you'll find the older casino's and lots of neon signs - and impersonators of all kinds. We've seen everyone from Brett Michaels to Pee Wee Herman to Spongebob to Elvis and Marilyn! And the absolute weirdest thing we saw... a lady with a great big... "rack" (and yes, it was fake)... standing right next to Elmo from Sesame street. Talk about being "weirded out!" I was glad we didn't have to try to explain that one to any little ones! You'd see the little ones saying "Look Daddy! Elmo! But believe me, Daddy was NOT looking at Elmo! (WINK!) Because Fremont Street is a smaller area than "the strip" you seem to see more look-a-likes (Elvis and others) here.
One day in the summer time, my husband and I were walking the strip and we were hot and hungry. We stopped at McDonald's... and were just eating and chatting when in walks ELVIS! In all of his white jumpsuit rhinestone'd glory... he waited in line with the rest of the patrons and people barely even noticed him. You'd see a few people nudging the person next to them and pointing, but for the most part, people didn't bother "Elvis." I went for my camera and my husband gave me a look of "Don't you DARE! If you do I will be so embarrassed I'll crawl under this table!"
We watched him up at the counter ordering his food, his rhinestones sparkling beneath the fluorescent lights (Hey, Elvis has to eat, too!) Then he found a table and sat down. I thought, only in Las Vegas could you be eating at McDonald's right across from ELVIS! (He is partial to cheeseburgers, by the way).
Another "Only In Las Vegas" Elvis Story ~
Back in December of 2010, there was a half marathon held here called the "Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll half-marathon." This marathon is famous for runners dressed up in costumes. A lady was running in it and had an unfortunate fainting spell. When she awakened from her fainting spell, ELVIS was giving her mouth to mouth resuscitation! TRUE story!
That Elvis was actually an anesthesiologist named Claudio Palma who was running in the race that day dressed as ELVIS when he saw her faint. She awakened, and in the words of Elvis, was "all shook up" to find "ELVIS" giving her mouth to mouth! Thanks to his quick assistance, she made a complete recovery... except for the amazingly funny STORY she will have to tell folks for the rest of her life!
And in a sideline to this story, Palma, while he was dressed as Elvis, also got married during this race at a run-through wedding chapel that was set up at the race's second mile point. Only in Las Vegas can things like this happen!
"The Flying Elvi" Made Famous By The Movie Honeymoon In Vegas ~
Years ago, there was a movie called "Honeymoon In Vegas." In it, a group of local Las Vegas skydivers jumped out of a plane... dressed as ELVIS. Every one of them was dressed as Elvis, dramatizing the way he looked during different career stages, and they were called "The Flying Elvi"... their motto is flying on "A Wig And A Prayer." In the movie, they jumped from 5,000 feet and landed in the tiny parking lot of "Bally's" hotel. Thousands watched as they made their landing. Little did they know that just by doing this movie they were about to become famous!
"The Flying Elvi" have since been used to perform at over 300 events in 29 states, and have appeared on many TV shows Their events attract record numbers of spectators. They have even appeared at events like mall openings and the debut of the new "Elvis" slot machine, and at the debut of the "Visa Las Vegas" credit card.
On May 6th and 7th of 2012, there was an Elvis contest held on Fremont Street to find the best "Elvis" here in Las Vegas. They are referred to as "ETA's"... Elvis Tribute Artists, instead of "impersonators." Afterwards, people could have their picture taken at "Binion's" with Elvis. There were 21 "Elvi" participating.
That Saturday, after the field was narrowed to 10, a champion was crowned ‘King'. Johnny Fortuno, a Las Vegas resident (originally from Honolulu, HI) was crowned the winner. He won $2,500 cash. He also won a Graceland Getaway prize package and most importantly, now he qualifies to compete in the 2012 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis, Tenn. This will happen during their annual "Elvis Week" held Aug. 10-16. Thousands flock to Memphis for this event held every August.
It's Now Or Never ~ Trent Carlini As Elvis
Close Your Eyes At A Trent Carlini Show ~ You Might Have A Daydream of Elvis!
Now if you're like me, and never got the opportunity to see the REAL Elvis when he was performing back in the 1970's, the closest you can come to seeing "Elvis" here in Las Vegas is to see a show by Trent Carlini at the LVH Hotel, in the Shimmer Showroom. He performs in this intimate showroom at LVH, and there are times during his performance when, if you close your eyes and just listen... you might think you are at an Elvis concert! The show is called "The King Starring Trent Carlini."
He is an extremely talented singer and performer and has the "Elvis" persona pretty much nailed. Ladies go down to the stage and stand there to watch him up close, and are often rewarded with one of his scarves! The way these ladies act, good grief... you'd think it really WAS Elvis. After all, that IS the image and the premise behind this show.
Even though Elvis has been gone for many years, he is still one of the most loved performers... ever, in an genre of music. In fact, Elvis himself played at the LVH Hotel from 1969 until 1976 in the large showroom. Back then, this same hotel was called "The International." He played an amazing 837 shows in a row, and sold at least 2.5 million tickets!
It's wonderful that Las Vegas can play a part in providing the best Elvis tribute artists from this area to represent the city. So, in addition to playing "Elvis" for photo opportunities for tourists, and with some of them even performing as Elvis, these guys are also ambassadors for the city of Las Vegas, and to them we can say (doing my best "Elvis lip") "Thank you... thank you very much!"
Johnny Fortuno As Elvis
More by this Author
A review of Frank Sinatra Jr's show from June 26, 2011 at the Orleans Showroom in Las Vegas. Along with a brief personal history of Frank Sinatra Jr.
Not only is Dwight Yoakam a brilliantly talented singer, songwriter and actor, he is also an entrepreneur. Add to this, a very philanthropic spirit in helping to raise money for the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, he is one...
I remember a scene in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes when a young lady named Ruth passed away from cancer. A very superstitious character in the movie, a woman named Sipsie, proceeded to cover the mirror in the room,...