DON’TS


DON’T strut around in costume after the show or any place other than the stage where you are performing. Change into something suitable for signing autographs and going out on the town. You aren’t “Elvis” once you are off the stage.

DON’T smoke or drink while in costume.

DON’T go around saying “adios” and “thank ya, thank ya very much” and “honey” and constantly repeating the “Ladies and Gentlemen” routine.

DON’T pose for photos with the classic karate stance/lunge and curled lip.

DON’T overdo the makeup. Learn how to apply it properly.

DON’T chew gum on stage!

DON’T go on stage “under the influence” of whatever!

DON’T
twirl on stage–maybe Elvis did, but most grown men, especially in sequined jumpsuits (and, even worse, with capes ), unless they are trained ballerinas, just look more than a little strange twirling on stage!!

DON’T enter an “Elvis impersonator” contest and then complain and storm out when you receive a low score IF you bear absolutely no resemblance to Elvis whatsoever, can’t sing like Elvis or even sing at all, and are wearing a gaudy and cheap costume. At least give the judges some credit for your low score.

It doesn’t matter if you are the most devoted Elvis fan in the world and truly love Elvis, if you can’t sing and don’t present a good image, DON’T get up on stage, in public, and try to impersonate Elvis..you just do more damage than you will ever know! For that matter, even if you do present a good image, but can’t sing, DO NOT get up on stage in public and try to impersonate Elvis. And get some good advice
as to whether you are presenting a tasteful image and can sing or not!!

This is my personal preference but at a dinner show or any place where there are tables, DON’T leap up on the tables.

DON’T throw teddy bears out in the audience just to generate screams (it’s just like throwing t-shirts out at the intermission of a hockey game). Your talent and merit as an entertainer should be powerful and charismatic enough on stage that you can generate the audience response and audience interaction without resorting to “tricks” to get through the show and make the audience respond (however, having said that, the teddy bear gimmick works every time).

DON’T badmouth other ETA’s in public (or for that matter, don’t badmouth anyone in public) ....just reflects badly on you.

DON’T take on Elvis’ persona by trying to mimic his speaking voice or by saying things on stage like, “I recorded this song in l956"......or “I performed this song on the Ed Sullivan show” or “This was my first song after I came out of the army”...etc. etc.

DON’T overdo the “moves” on stage...especially if portraying Elvis
from l973 on. Watch some of the concert footage including the Aloha Special (now that we are coming up to the 30th anniversary of the Aloha Special, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more than the usual number of “Aloha” re-creations). Elvis didn’t move nearly as much as most impersonators do or as much as many fans think he did.....but his vocal talent shone through loud and clear!

DON’T overdo the scarf routine..it’s distracting and constantly interrupts the show..especially for the people who paid top dollar for seats at the front (by the way, Elvis usually gave out between 8-10 scarves per entire show).

If you are just starting out, and even if you are well established, DON’T let compliments go to your head...in most cases, being a good, successful ETA takes a lot of talent, work, practice, and time. Very, very few are “great,” and you have to keep working at it – watch out for that “false sense of competence”.

DON’T ever start thinking you are Elvis or better than Elvis.

DON’T take your fans for granted.

~~And my own personal all-time pet peeve and “No. 1 don’t”.... DON’T confuse a loud, harsh singing voice with a quality singing voice – especially when singing the ballads and “power” songs. Louder doesn’t mean better. Elvis had “velvet” in his voice and he didn’t shout when he sang.



MAYBE


Wearing glasses...It depends whether the glasses are good quality, well made, accurate replicas of Elvis’ glasses, whether you have the body build and facial features/head shape/hair style to carry it off and resemble Elvis, and whether you only wear the glasses for a very short time during your performance...so, “maybe” to the glasses for the very small percentage of performers who can carry it off tastefully without looking like a caricature.


DO’s


DO wear clean, pressed, well-fitting outfits.. shoes shined.

DO give out scarves personally rather than just tossing them out - unless the stage is too high and you can’t reach down – and they also should be good quality scarves.

DO try to make eye contact with as many people as possible while performing and also look to the back and sides and balconies–one marvelous quality that Elvis had is that people in the 999th row always felt that Elvis was singing directly to them!!

DO tell a bit about the background of a song ,etc., when you introduce it .

DO your research and DON’T get up on the stage and say, “This song was recorded by Elvis in l9...uh, I don’t know.”

DO acknowledge that fans have traveled a long way to see you.

DO wear a hat on stage if a fan gives you one....it’s OK to mess up your hair.

If you’ve packed on quite a few extra pounds and are still trying to get back to your optimum performing weight, DO consider even more carefully the types of costumes and jumpsuits that would be the most flattering for you to wear ...perhaps, for example, black instead of white, etc.

DO listen to constructive suggestions for improvement–and DON’T believe all the “praise” you get...decide whether the people giving you praise have some credibility or if they just want something – again, watch out for that “false sense of competence.”

DO watch and study Elvis videos/performances so that you are clear in your mind what Elvis looked and performed like..and you are not just becoming a
parody of an Elvis Impersonator.

DO give each fan who lines up for an autograph your undivided attention even if it is just for a minute..don’t be looking over their shoulder to see who is younger, prettier, more “prestigious,” etc.

DO sing “American Trilogy” even if you are in another country...Elvis fans everywhere love that song!!

DO learn some new songs once in a while so your show is a bit different for fans who go to a lot of your shows (if I never heard “Suspicious Minds” again for the rest of my life, I would be quite happy!!).

DO remember that often “less is more”... and that conversely, the more cheap jewelry, the more gaudy costumes, the more scarves you give out, the more you shout, the more you wear wigs and cheap glasses, the more you parody the moves, the more you rely on gimmicks, the more you do the whole “Elvis caricature/cartoon” routine, the LESS value your performance has – the LESS you are paying tribute to “Elvis the musician” and to his talent, and the more you are contributing to the “extreme media stereotype”.

If you have a great singing voice and can do justice to Elvis’ songs, but don’t bear any resemblance to Elvis ..then DO wear something other than a jumpsuit or “Elvis costume,” forget the sideburns and the whole “impersonation” act and just sing the songs well and keep the music alive for the legions of fans who appreciate the VOICE and the MUSIC and the SONGS.

DO remember that after a while, all the gimmicks wear a little thin but TALENT will last..concentrate on developing your singing and honing your craft.

DO be nice to the “little people” on your way up the ladder...you’ll meet the same people on the way down, and you’ll be glad to have them as fans.

Something I really DO like is the way some entertainers give all their scarves out during one song..the audience members rush to the stage during that song and it’s all done at once. That way, the constant interruption and distraction of people going up to the stage and the entertainer giving out scarves throughout the whole show is avoided..it almost has more impact this way. Again, this is a personal preference but it works well and might be something for other ETA’s to try at least once to see if it works for them.

DO know which songs you can do well and which ones you don’t do so well and concentrate on the ones that suit you, your voice, your style, your age, your “look,” and your vocal ability and range.

DO go to watch other good, experienced ETA’s at their shows and pick up some of the things they are doing that work..you will always learn something from those who are better and who have more experience.

For those talented, hard-working, and sincere ETA’s out there, who know that it’s about paying tribute to the musical legacy and to “Elvis the musician,” DO know that the fans appreciate all the hard work you put into delivering your shows and the professionalism you display – we thank you for it!

THE DO’S AND DON’T’S
OF IMPERSONATING ELVIS

- and keeping the music alive -

The funny thing about “do’s and don’t’s” is that most ETA’s can’t get away with everything that Elvis did. Also, there are some things that Elvis didn’t do, that ETA’s do in their shows and it works for them...so a list like this has to be taken with a grain of salt..it’s just opinions from a number of people who have seen quite a few ETA shows - meant to be helpful as there is some truth to each of the “do’s and don’ts” but not meant to be taken as “the last word” by any means. Some of these are repeats from last year, some are brand new.

More seriously, what isn’t so funny are the articles that appear in the media such as the one from the
Globe and Mail (a Canadian national newspaper) which states that “as his old fans begin to get really old, pop culture has less and less room for the pompadoured pride of Tupelo, Mississippi”. If the under-30's know Elvis at all, it’s not been as a musician,” says Andrew Bergstein who teaches courses on pop culture at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s been the comic, non-musical stuff – Fat Elvis, the Vegas Elvis singing bad Neil Diamond, Elvis impersonators, Elvis as cartoon”. The article goes on to say, “Except for a few commemorative blips this year - a European hit remix single - A Little Less Conversation - and an RCA hits compilation - Elvis 30 #1's - it seems that a quarter-century after his obituaries ran, the King may really now be dead.”

What stands out here is “
it’s not been as a musician”.....

Another quote in the same article is from Mark Duffett, a lecturer in media and popular music studies at the University of Manchester in England. He says, “
Elvis has become this phantom who gets kicked around and turned into an extreme media stereotype on the printed page - a place where his voice cannot physically entertain people, so he has to be made entertaining in other ways.”

There has been very little written about Elvis’s singing and musicianship but Duffett notes that
“Elvis’s contribution was sonic talent and creativity, which was expressed through his vocal and musical interpretations, and his approach to recording.”

To emphasize.......Elvis’s contribution was his
talent and creativity expressed through his vocal and musical interpretations.

So read these “do’s and don’t’s” and think about it......what are you doing as an ETA

to pay tribute to the music and to Elvis the musician??