Friday, 17 June 2011

Blue Suede Nights

Things happen when you travel alone. Especially at airports. Especially when your travel plans have already gone awry. And most especially of all if you're anything like me and you attract lunatics like moths to a flame.

It's funny to think that if my plane hadn't been delayed and if I hadn't been stranded in Amsterdam overnight, I would never have met Elvis.

Readers. allow me to present Elvis Lovinescu to you. He's a professional Elvis impersonator, originally from Moldova. Most of the year, he works in Las Vegas, where there's regular work to be had marrying couples in the various chapels. (If any of the bridal couples baulks at his most un-Elvis-like Moldovan accent, he says he can generally pacify them with a flip of his quiff and a few of his choicest pelvis moves.)

Elvis was stranded, too. Though we were on different flights, travelling in different directions, we ended up getting free rooms in the same hotel and we ended up propping up the same counter in the same boring hotel bar, and that's how we got talking.

"Elvis" is Elvis Lovinescu's real name - chosen for him by his father, much to the outrage of the baptising minister and the rest of his extended family (who - somewhat confusingly - seem to all be called either "Mihai" or "Mihaiela" with the exception of one solitary auntie called "Dudu".)

Elvis' father was an Elvis impersonator before him. He taught him everything he knows. In fact, Elvis learned how to impersonate Elvis, not from studying The King but from studying his father. According to Elvis, despite not being able to pronounce a single word in the English language with anything approaching linguistic precision, his father was still "more like Elvis than Elvis was".

"So, yeah, you could say that impersonating Elvis is kind of the family trade," he tells me with a smile, "And when I have a son, I just know he'll be born with blue suede shoes on."

Elvis' father died one night in a hotel fire in Odessa thirteen years ago. The only possession that survived the fire was his top set of teeth, which had been miraculously preserved in a glass of water.
As the only surviving relic of his father, the dentures accompany Elvis on all his travels. They're his lucky mascot. He keeps them wrapped in a star-spangled banner. In the evenings, when he goes out, he lovingly lays his daddy's choppers into a glass on the bedside table and fills it up with a generous splash of vodka. (Because daddy still likes a drink.)

"Isn't that a bit macabre?" I ask him as he holds up the glass to show me.

"Not at all," he grins, "Look - Daddy's smiling at you. He'd have liked you a lot, I'm sure."

Despite the dissipations of this night, Elvis kindly agreed to join me in another impromptu shoot in his hotel room, early the next morning before we each checked out and went our separate ways. The series is entitled "Memphis Hotel" and I've just added it to the Polaroid Series section of my website.


  1. Hmmmmm. Interesting.

  2. It was an interesting night. Probably more interesting than meeting the real Elvis.

  3. I wonder if your Elvis has not been abducted by aliens, like the real one, I mean.

  4. Oh dear. I hope not. And I sincerely hope this didn't befall him while he was on the toilet (also like the real one, I mean).