Monica Hesse over at The Washington Post had an article yesterday regarding one of DC's most unique and lasting institutions, BLELVIS. In her article, King Blelvis: An Elvis Obsession Has His Life All Shook Up, she explores the life story of one of the men that make DC more than just a one business town.
Those of you unfamiliar with Blelvis, I can only say you have been missing out on one of those rare experiences in life. As Blelvis makes his rounds between 14th Street and Mount Pleasant, he sometimes drops by Casa and brings joy to the folks standing out front who are on a smoke break or baby sitting the show. My interactions with Blelvis have always been among my best memories of working for Rorschach. Name an Elvis song and he will sing it for you. Give him a word and he will free associate it to an Elvis tune. This isn't a simple parlor trick this is the man's passion. A passion that seems to have taken its toll according to the article.
There is a lot to think about in the article, Blelvis like all of us has a family and a past. He has given his life over to the pursuit of what some people might consider a sort of novelty act, but I think they are missing the point. Blelvis like any performer is trying to share what he has in his heart, whether the world has room to support a Black Elvis impersonator or not.
And what does Blevis ask in return? Some times it's a cigarette or a small cash gift to Blelvis's favorite nation, "do-nation". And it is always worth it. I never leave him without smiling. There was a while where Blelvis went away and when he returned I asked where have you been? His response, "Blemphis."
Even thought I don't claim to be Blelvis's friend we did have one serious talks, about how people just don't seem to get him the way they used to. One night last spring during the run of Dali he told me that he got chased off from in front of the Raven. The Raven for Christs Sake!People talk about how DC has no character, well why aren't they embracing the character it does have.
Blelvis has walked the streets of DC for over 20 years bringing joy to a lot of white middle class kids who have come into town for a good time. And because Blelvis has tapped into something we all enjoy, even if we don't admit it, the life and work of Mr. Elvis Aron Pressley, he has made that good time just that much sweeter.
Long live the king!