The author (right) and friends at Graceland Too (Paul is second from right, doye). Photo by Teeny Whiteaker
(click on the linked words to read the footnotes)
I know you went to school with a guy that was "totally into Bowie," and there's a 40-year-old in your hometown who hasn't outgrown his Church of the Subgenius phase, but that's preschool stuff. The Dalai Lama? The Pope? Aimless rookies. Even outsider godheads like Howard Finster and Henry Darger look like a couple of lazy dilettantes next to Paul McLeod. He is the proprietor of Graceland Too, a 24-7-365 museum devoted to Elvis. The museum takes up all of Paul's large antebellum home in Holly Springs, Mississippi, directly between Tupelo and Memphis. Your $5 admission grants you a three-hour, rapid-fire, minutiae-laden mind bludgeoning that turns most visitors into stammering puddles of confusion. For the last 40 years, Paul and his son Elvis Aaron Presley McLeod have been recording and logging every reference to Elvis in all forms of media (TV, movies, radio, books, magazines, newspapers, and the internet) even though it is a totally impossible task. Paul used to trade twelve-hour shifts with Elvis until three years ago when Elvis mysteriously quit. Now Paul's flying solo, and that means no more sleeping ever again.
VICE: So, Paul, can you tell us a bit about how you got started collecting–
Paul: Here's a world-famous picture of my son Elvis, taken when he was a little kid down in Tupelo. My son can remember your first name, last name, middle name, Social Security number, bank account, license plate, city, state, country, your mother and father's name, the last time you were here, who you were here with, what you were driving, what sorority or fraternity you're tied up with. I figured I'd get buried in that gold suit up there under a tombstone that reads: "Here lies the world's, the galaxy's, and the universe's number-one ultimate Elvis fan" then I'd come back on Halloween night and haunt my ex-wife. Up in New York City they've got a casket that plays "Return to Sender" when you lift up the lid. I'm gonna get one. There's a picture of a lady who made us up a bunch of Chinese food. I figure we can repay her kindness. I'm trying to put together a display and I think it's going to be about 30 feet long with panda bears and all. Give it to her for her restaurant. The Chinese wall meets the Graceland Too wall. Chopsticks and all! Come in here and I'll show you the publicity we get 24 hours, seven days a week. Two hundred eighty-nine newspapers, front-page, worldwide. New York Times, Dallas Morning News. Ten million. Here's top TV shows with us on 'em. We're on the internet 64,500 times. I owned all those cars you see up here and 35 more. Here's me and my wife. We're at the Elvis Presley show in Las Vegas at the International Hotel. Here's 286 movies pertaining to Elvis from Hollywood. Steve Martin, Jerry Lewis, The Firm, Independence Day, Chill Factor, Batman Returns, Zapped Again, Eddie Murphy, and the movie Ghostbusters. There's limousines out here all night long, 24 hours a day. Midgets serving drinks. Girls in hot tubs. Gorillas chasing bananas. It sounds stupid but it's true. Cybill Shepherd's lawyers, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Wilson, Minnesota Fats, Chris O'Donnell from Batman. Sam Phillips just died. We got autographed pictures of the Jordanaires. There's David Frost. There's the President of the United States—his daughters gave us that. Lisa Marie just came in a while back and gave us some CDs. Second to none. Here's IDs that need to be cut and picked up from all your friends. We've taken a total of 225,000 pictures. If you come here two more times, you're all lifetime members. You won't ever pay here ever again. There was a guy in here a while ago that kind of resembled Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks got an Academy Award for playing the part of a kid called Forrest Gump. There's Forrest Gump sitting right up there in that chair. His uncle lives right across the street. Tom Hanks also did a movie called Cast Away. Did you ever hear of that? Did you ever see it? How is it connected with Elvis five times? He showed up dressed like Elvis, then they play "All Shook Up" when it starts out. He goes over to Russia and gives kids Elvis CDs. When they thought he was dead they weighed the casket down with Elvis Presley memorabilia, then they play "Return to Sender" at the end. We got a globe of the world that's got Graceland Too on it. Turner Network came over here and blew $250,000 to make a documentary. A guy says we're in this book here. All these pages on me and my son. We didn't know nothin' about it. Another lady came here a little while back and said this book's all on you. Plus American Idol sent one film crew to Nashville and two here. They said they want to come back. They're calling it "Elvis USA Today." They turned around and said every time we stand on the porch for five minutes they'll give us $800 apiece. Guy just gave us this last week. Elmer Fudd and chickens impersonating Elvis. Here's all Elvis's movies. Who directed 'em, who died in 'em, who played in 'em. He could have played in The Godfather, Midnight Cowboy, A Star Is Born, Valley of the Dolls, and West Side Story. There's been at least 75 couples who say they want to get married here. We tell 'em you can get married or buried. Anything that'll make you happy. Can I just ask a quick question? What is it about Elvis that you think intrigues so many– Here's Elvis' report card from 1951 when he flunked Music. There's the night he won the talent contest, April 15th, 1953, and he got his name misspelled for Presley. Any of you ever been to his airplane or saw it? The Lisa Marie? I'm the one that's got the only pass in the history of the world with the serial numbers off that airplane and I figure somebody makes 'em up for 25 cents apiece. Put 'em on the internet and market 'em and you'd be richer than Bill Gates. Every Elvis fan alive would want a copy of it. This blue record back here, Clinton tried to get it because his code name for the CIA was Elvis. Did you know that? He tried to get that for $250,000 cash and there ain't no way I'll give it up for a MILLION! I told him NO WAY! Elvis doesn't sing on this thing. He only answers four questions and the other side is blank. There's nothing on it. It's in mint condition. There's the night that Elvis Presley outshined the moon. More people watched him than the moon landing. I actually took that picture. One giant step for mankind. The Eagle has landed and planted the flag. JEFF JENSEN