Sunday, June 13, 2010

#19 - Calling Elvis, Part 2

I have no use for bodyguards, but I have very specific use for two highly trained certified public accountants. - Elvis Presley

He was on his way to the dinner show at Caeser's Palace in Lake Tahoe in 1973 when the lobby security cameras gave him away. After the show, he was greeted by 3 huge bodyguards insisting his presence was requested in the dressing room by the man who just left the stage. He nervously accepted the invitation unaware of the profound effect that chance meeting would have later in his life.

When Joe Mendonca met Elvis Presley, the first question the "King" asked was: "How have you been Jesse?". Apparently Presley was amazed at Mendonca's resemblance to his deceased twin brother but even more surprising was Mendonca's likeness to Presley himself. So naturally the two hit it off and soon Mendonca was astonished to find he was Presley's personal guest for the entire weekend at his Caeser's 25th floor suite!

Now over a quarter of a century later, in 2001 to be exact, the Mendonca/Presley connection has come to life again. That was the year Mendonca dressed and performed as Elvis for a church Christmas program, and the ultra-dedicated fan hasn't been able to stop impersonating the "King" ever since!
Mendonca has performed as Elvis over 50 times the past 9 years. This includes competing in 5 Tribute Artists Contests, the first one held in Memphis in 2002 where 106 performers gathered to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Presley's death. Mendonca finished in 26th place and was interviewed on CNN -- quite an accomplishment for a senior citizen singing in a skin-tight neon jumpsuit on national TV for the first time!

As one of only a handful of seniors performing on the Elvis Tribute Tour, Mendonca sees himself surrounded by younger and more agile bodies. This makes him feel great, excited, and nervous all at the same time when he's on stage. But once, at the Majestic Theater in Corvallis, OR, an appreciative fan threw her panties (or as Joe said, "Underwear.") on stage -- this just made him feel nervous.
Mendonca's favorite Elvis song to listen to is Give me a Mountain and his favorite to perform is My Way. His advice to future Elvis Tribute Artists: "Be yourself, practice a lot, watch a lot of Elvis videos, and take it from there." In other words, just do it your way!

(Note: This picture story was taken during Mendonca's latest competition, the 2010 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Regionals held at Chinook Winds Casino Resort, Lincoln City, OR, in April.)
I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to. - Elvis Presley