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Elvis Impersonators Compare Pompadours, Pelvis Grinds

June 9, 1990 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) _ You say your sneer’s a little crooked, your pompadour’s a little flat and - gasp, what would the King think - you’ve forgotten the words to ″Don’t Be Cruel″?

No problem.

A weekend convention featuring an international lineup of Elvis Presley impersonators - about 80 altogether - includes a seminar on how to be a better Elvis.

″Sure, you have to look like Elvis, sound like Elvis and capture all the little idiosyncracies,″ said Dave Carlson, who conducted a seminar Friday. ″But I can’t grab a person’s leg and say, ’Here, move your leg like this.‴


Carlson demonstrates, grabbing his own knee and moving it in a circle that threatens to tear the joint from its socket.

″Something’s got to be there,″ said Carlson, who’s been doing Elvis for 20 years. ″Most of it has to come from the individual.″

And there’s plenty of them to go around.

This weekend in Rosemont, a west Chicago suburb, the EP Impersonators International Association is holding its first annual convention.

Here, Elvis comes in all shapes and sizes.

They come from the suburbs, England, Australia.

In fact, 15 states and six countries are represented.

There’s even a woman.

″As far as I know, I’m the only one,″ said 26-year-old Janice Waite of London. ″But when I’m on stage, I really don’t think about it.″

Ms. Waite, a horse jockey off the stage, said her English accent doesn’t bother her, either. ″I sing in an American accent,″ she said. ″I can’t talk in it very well, but I can’t sing any other way.″

Jerome Marion of Manteno, south of Chicago, wears a white jumpsuit - opened to the bottom of his ribcage - blanketed with sequins and eagle designs. ″The girls are the most exciting part,″ he said, while his wife, Brenda, smiled.

″I never introduce her as my wife. It would intimidate the fans,″ Marion said.

″That was my idea,″ said Mrs. Marion, who helps Marion during his act. ″I know how important this is to him. He gets the mirror first in the bathroom, too.″

Jumpsuits like Marions’ replica of Presley’s ″Aloha Hawaii″ outfit are for sale in the hotel lobby for $800 to $2,250. Custom outfits start at $1,000.

Carlson, meanwhile, an Illinois native, said he makes his living impersonating the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, playing two to three shows a week at nightclubs, festivals and outdoor concerts.

But, he insisted, ″I don’t take it to bed with me.

″The biggest mistake a lot of impersonators make is they take it off-stage with them. You have to know when to turn it off.″