Legion of Elvis Impersonators Long To Be King

ByABC News via logo
August 13, 2002, 6:22 PM

Aug. 15 -- Elvis really is everywhere, or at least it looks that way. With more than 35,000 Elvis impersonators in the United States, maybe all of those spottings were really just good look-alikes.

Thousands of impersonators say they chose their unconventional profession out of their love for "The King."

Many perform shows in Las Vegas, a bedrock for Elvis enthusiasts. Meanwhile, in Memphis, mutton chops and jumpsuits are everywhere, especially this week as the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death approaches.

Good Morning America's Entertainment and Lifestyle Trends Correspondent, Alex Cambert, traveled to Memphis to meet some of the country's most dedicated Elvis impersonators. Many enter two contests each year, hoping to edge out the other pretenders to the throne.

Elvis wannabes come in every shape, size and description. Nine-year-old Trevor "Little Elvis" Clerico says he was born to be like The King.

"I was born with him in my heart," Trevor said. But "Little Elvis" doesn't intend to become big Elvis. He said he plans to give up his gig to "be a lawyer or something," when he hits 21.

The judges look at each contestant's sound, look and movements. Attempting to match Elvis' look is expensive a typical King costume can cost up to $4,000.

His movements are also a challenge while his smooth voice is nearly impossible to duplicate.

Nevertheless, impersonating the King is a rapid-growth industry, according to Rick Marino, president of the Elvis Impersonators Association and author of Be Elvis!: A Guide to Impersonating The King.

"In 1977, there were 28 Elvis impersonators, and I was one of them," Marino told the San Francisco Chronicle last year. "In 1992, there were 35,000. Do the arithmetic. That means by 2017, one out of every four people in America will be an Elvis impersonator."