In Keeping His Memory Alive: Part Three, I look at what goes into building a successful ETA career. Based on research, observation, and personal preference, this installment of my article is meant to amuse and entertain the reader while providing general information and insights into the world of ETAs. Today I focus on hair and makeup.
Keeping His Memory Alive: Part Three
If you are seeking a career as a professional ETA, entering a competition is a good place to start. It will require some work to take you from average guy to Elvis superstar, but it will be worth the effort. Having a tall, lean body is a definite asset. Elvis was 182cm, close to 6ft, and weighed around 75kg/165lbs at the height of his career. Not to worry, though; there are very successful artists under 6ft. If you need a little extra height to give you confidence, slip some lifts in your shoes--no one will know. Black leather pants with waist hugging jackets and jumpsuits, especially in white or light blue, are unforgiving; so unless you are going for a 1977 look (I don't like the three letter 'f' word so often used to describe Elvis in '77), best keep your weight in check. A good head of hair, whatever the colour, is a plus because it can be dyed jet black and styled to suit each decade. Elvis' personal hair stylist, Larry Geller, stated in Yahoo Beauty that he dyed Elvis' hair every two to three weeks with L'Oréal. Some sites report that he also used Lapinol and Miss Clariol 51D Black Velvet over the years. To address Elvis' concern about losing his hair from constant dying, Geller used Vitamin E and jojoba oil to condition his hair. He also changed brands of hairsprays routinely to avoid drying out Elvis' hair. Eyelashes and brows might need to be dyed to match your hair. In the early days, Elvis apparently used boot polish on his eyelashes. Fortunately there are safe products available for at home use--Shoppers Drug Mart sells a product made in Germany called Swiss O Par for under $20, or you can seek the help of a professional. And Volume Colourist mascara by Rimmel London, if used regularly, will tint very light eyelashes over time. For quick brow and lash touch-ups, have black mascara and pencils on hand. Larry Geller even used black mascara in a pinch to touch up Elvis' hair. A little eyeliner under your bottom lashes has a nice effect if skillfully applied. Be careful, though: too much will have you looking more like Adam Lambert than Elvis!
If you opt for a wig instead of dye, purchase one of high quality; otherwise your hair will look like a helmet, and no one will want to 'run their fingers through your long black hair'. While a good head of hair is an asset, if you have so much chest hair that it looks like you are wearing a brown t-shirt under your jumpsuit, you may want to consider shaving or waxing. Steve Michaels pointed out in his audience chat that Elvis shaved almost all body hair for his movies. Unless you plan on wearing tight white shorts in your act, no need to go that far for authenticity. There are photos showing Elvis with a hairy chest, but since his natural hair was dirty blonde, he most likely shaved his chest rather than trying to dye it to match. Covering that much hair with dye would be a nightmare! Shaving or waxing is also a good way to eliminate grey hair and maintain a youthful appearance. (There are no known photos of Elvis with grey hair, even as he aged). Or you could just keep your jumpsuit zipped up.
A tanned complexion looks good with black hair, and makes your teeth look pearly white. If your teeth need work, no one will fault you for having veneers. It is all part of being a professional entertainer. Brown or green eyes will benefit from blue contacts. Some ETAs have surgery, treatments, or injections to enhance their appearance; but major surgery to make you an Elvis look-a-like isn't really necessary. It is amazing what proper makeup application can accomplish in selling the illusion.
In Part Four, I will discuss costuming. Cheers, for now. CM