Five Elvis Impersonators Slip on Their Blue Suede Shoes and Get Personal
Randy Mancini, 48
VICE: When were you first awestruck by Elvis?
Randy: I got into Elvis as a kid. My mom used to play his music.
How old were you?
I was around eight.
When did you decide to become an Elvis impersonator?
Like 12 years ago.
How often do you perform?
Usually just on weekends, Friday and Saturday nights.
Do you have another job, or is impersonating your only occupation?
Yeah, I have another occupation. My day job is selling cars. [laughs]
Have you ever had a falling out with another Elvis impersonator?
We all get along pretty well. Once every couple months we get together and do these competitions, like the Lake George Elvis Festival. Most recently I went to the Dewey Beach Elvis Festival. There are a few; one of them is in Atlantic City. They have them every couple months and usually there are like 20 guys, but Lake George is the biggest. At that one there are about 60 of us, and it’s a two-day ordeal.
Who judges these contests?
They have panels who run them.
Are the judges also Elvis impersonators?
The guy who runs it used to be one years ago, but he doesn’t do that anymore. He just runs the show now.
Are there any prizes involved, or is it just for the glory of the title of Best Elvis?
There are different prizes for different levels. They have professional and nonprofessional divisions. I enter the pro contests, but I just started getting into that circuit like a year and a half ago. You’ve gotta stick around for a little while before you start winning big.
What are the prizes like?
It goes up to like $1,500 or $2,000 for first place, and then it goes down to around $500 or $300… stuff like that.
What’s your favorite Elvis song?
I’d say “Viva Las Vegas.”
Do you have a favorite album?
Probably Aloha from Hawaii.
Aside from his music, what’s your favorite thing about him?
He was an honest, caring guy. He was very giving. He wasn’t greedy, and he used to bless people around him with the blessing that was put upon him.
At what type of places and events do you usually perform?
Usually birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. Birthdays are the big ones. Sometimes there are Christmas parties and stuff like that too.
How many Elvis getups do you own?
I’ve got about six.
Where do you get the suits from?
B&K Enterprises. They use the designs from Elvis’s original suits.
Do they make other types of clothing, or just Elvis-wear?
Yeah, they make stuff for a couple other impersonators, but they mainly focus on Elvis. There are a couple other places that make them, and those sell for about half-price. Some of the other guys use those, but they just aren’t the same.
Gotta go with the original.
Yeah. They’re pricey, but worth it every time.
How much are they?
Usually anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000.
That’s a hunka hunka cash.
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