Keeping His Memory Alive: Part Four - Costumes
From what I have seen on YouTube, many new ETAs choose the Early Years for their first performance in competition. If you are a non-professional just starting out, or if your budget is limited, some articles of clothing can borrowed from your dad or uncle if you are performingthe Early Years. You can also shop at charity shops where you may find actual sport jackets from the 1950s. Make sure the look is authentic. Do your research. Is what you have laid out on your bed really reminiscent of what Elvis would have worn? In the Las Vegas: Images of the King contest outline, Rule #2, Know Your Material, clearly states: Your costume should represent your song selection for each day. (Example: Do not sing "Suspicious Minds" in a sport jacket or leather). Rule #3 goes on to say: For the purpose of judging and choosing your material, the Early Years (Sport Jacket, God Lame, Speedway Jackets, Black Leather, etc.) will be considered from 1954 to Dec. 31, 1968. The "Jumpsuit Years" will be considered as Jan. 1, 1969 through Aug. 16, 1977.
If you are performing the '70's, be prepared to spend well over three grand CDN to buy a professionally designed jumpsuit made specifically to your measurements. Off the rack costumes are less costly, but make sure the company that offers them is reputable. One such company is ProElvis Jumpsuits in Nanaimo BC whose owner, Elle von Boetticher, gained national recognition when she appeared on Dragon's Den. There are some interesting videos on YouTube where Elle explains what goes into the jumpsuits she makes (you can find them on my website under 'links'). Elle's company is one of the top suppliers of Elvis costumes internationally because she provides garments to customers that are of the highest quality. She makes sure you won't leave a trail of rhinestones, studs and nail heads on the stage. (After constant use, even the best made jumpsuits may have a 'wardrobe malfunction'. Check out Matt Cage's 2014 Belleville concert DVD to see how he humorously handles a rogue jewel incident). And you definitely do not want the seams to tear. Elvis jokingly changed the words in the song "Suspicious Minds" in his 1973 Aloha from Hawaii concert from "because I love you baby" to "I hope this suit don't tear up baby" as he took a deep karate stance. But it is real possibility. On March 21st, 1976 in Ohio, Elvis' jumpsuit did tear, and Charlie Hodge came to the rescue by tucking a towel in Elvis' belt. After the set, Elvis returned to the stage in a new outfit with the torn jumpsuit slung over his shoulder. Designer Bill Belew was horrified!
It may seem like a lot of preparation for a maximum of 4 minutes onstage given that appearance only counts for about 20% of the judges' marks in most competitions. But keep in mind that you are building a reputation that may lead to a win that may ultimately lead to a professional career.
In Part Five of Keeping His Memory Alive, the focus will be on performance.
Tonight is Sylvain Leduc's concert at Flamboro Downs. I hope to have new photos to post in the coming days. If you are an ETA and have comments on make-up, costume, or performance to share with fans, please send them along. . Cheers! CM