What other performer in the world has created a subgenre of entertainment that people can make an actual living from? Sometimes I come across cover bands for popular performers like the Kiss or the Beatles, and I have even seen a Roy Orbison tribute performer, but the most impersonated performer is probably the King. Elvis. Elvis Tribute Artists compete across the country and several have found a calling for being professional Elvis impersonators. Many of these men are pretty talented and choose to sing like Elvis for their supper. And what would make a person want to see this performance? If the impersonator is compelling, and the person really loves Elvis. What I really want to know is, how can a person make a living as an Elvis impersonator? What kind of man is so dedicated to Elvis that he makes his living imitating him? And does that man have a family? What is it like to be that wife of an Elvis impersonator?
On August 16th (Elvis fans will know the significance of that date) I saw Travis LeDoyt at the Newcastle casino. It was the second performance of Travis’s I have seen this year, and also the third Elvis Impersonator show (we saw two others impersonating the young Elvis and the “concert” Elvis at Rose State earlier in the summer). The audience was different here than at the other two venues (key words – “free” “concert”). The oxygen tanks and walkers were in abundance and teeth were not. Several of these older women wore strapless tops letting the “girls” hang low.
But every one of them loved Elvis and LeDoyt loved them back. I have seen his performances several times now, and I do think this was his best performance. When he came out in the audience, women just appeared like magic. I was confounded at how quickly these ladies with their canes and walkers seemed to gravitate toward him. He took time to sing, take pictures, and kiss them. He loved each and every one just the same and spent more time in the audience than he did on stage.
What kind of man let’s a wrinkly, toothless, old woman kiss his cheek? What kind of performer makes a grandmother feel like a teen again and the elderly ladies swoon? What kind of person turns my reserved mother into a squealing, giggly girl? By the way, my mom is absolutely adorable at these concerts!
Travis is a great young Elvis (even though he is about Elvis’s age when he died) and really encompasses his spirit. He is a crowd pleaser, making the audience part of the show. On this night with this particular crowd, it was hard to see the young teen-age girls these women once were. In his presence, all their anxieties and daily toil melted away. At least for a little while.
Part of LeDoyt’s popularity is his charm. He is charismatic and has a great repertoire with his audience. But he fascinates me. Why does someone choose this as a profession? Is he too an Elvis fan? Does he have a family? If so, how do they feel about him as Elvis? Do his kids like his performances? How did he get started?
I am sure Travis LeDoyt is an interesting man. If you get the chance to see him, do. It will be an entertaining evening.