So … was it really The King?
by Carole Nelson Douglas
In a week when Hurricane Isaac swamped the GulfCoast, the UN said it did not plan to invade Texas, and Rosie O’Donnell announced that she is married, had a heart attack and is selling art on eBay, CAT IN A JEWELED JUMPSUIT was a blessèd relief.
So, is Elvis alive? Maybe, maybe not.
CAT IN A JEWELED JUMPSUIT’S Prologue is from Elvis’s POV, with Elvis – or his ghost – watching TV and reflecting on his life as it was according to the tell-all books written about him. Quoting: “Only one who hasn’t been heard from on the grand glory days and sad last nights of Elvis Aaron Presley is the King his own self. And even that isn’t impossible. Heck, all the King’s men had mostly used ghost writers to get their side of things down on paper. And here he was one. The King laughed …”
Chapter One, from Midnight Louie’s POV, is exquisite, with ML watching himself in a TV commercial as he descends a grand staircase with all the aplomb of Fred Astaire. Keeping in mind that this book was written in 1999, you shouldn’t be surprised that ML is watching a VCR tape while his owner, Miss Temple Barr, fusses with the recorder, winding and rewinding the tape in her efforts to keep the commercial running.
Temple is a public relations freelancer, on retainer from the Crystal Phoenix Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Her boss is Van von Rhine, wife of Aldo Fontana, one of nine Fontana Brothers. Brother Nicky Fontana owns the Crystal Phoenix. The nine Fontanas keep a low profile most of the time, but never fear, they are around.
With a new “Elvis” hotel—the Kingdome—going up on the Strip, Van von Rhine instructs Temple to snoop around and report on its progress. An upcoming publicity stunt is an Elvis Impersonator competition. Elvises of every size, shape and theme converge on Vegas.
When Quincey, a teenaged girl who is to portray Priscilla, gets death threats, her mother comes to Temple for help. Temple hires six of the Fontana Brothers to serve as bodyguards disguised as Elvis impersonators.
Further muddying the waters, an Elvis sound-alike begins to call the Mr. Midnight radio show. Matt Devine, the show’s host, doesn’t take him seriously but listeners do. Groupies wait in the studio parking lot so they can get Matt’s autograph simply because he talks to The King. Matt tries to discourage them by asking why Elvis would wait so many years to show up again. One of the true believers says, “He knew how to make an entrance.”
Matt recognized pure faith when he saw it. He had never seen it shown to anything other than a religious figure. Maybe the shrinks who identified Elvis as a shaman, a primitive holy man, weren’t all wet. Didn’t the faithful visit the burial shrine at Graceland every August, and every day of the year, making it second only to the White House in annual visitor count?
The FBI shows up wanting copies of the radio tapes. When the wedding dress designed for Quincey’s appearance as Priscilla is slashed to bits, her mother takes her out of the show. The FBI persuades Temple to replace her.
Meantime, Midnight Louie slinks through the story, always under the radar but ever alert in his zeal to protect Temple. His unlikely accomplices are an 18-foot anaconda and a chimpanzee with his own jumpsuit. Unlikely they may be, but they’re effective. With Temple as bait and a killer disguised as an Elvis impersonator, the show goes on. The results are totally unexpected. The ending is a gas. So, is Elvis alive? I’ll never tell.
August was for Elvis Week and a blue moon. Give a listen to YouTube’s 1956 recording of Elvis performing “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold.” It’s early Elvis, when the voice was pure and the beat was easy. It’s at http://tinyurl.com/8mwwro8.