Once I determined that Big Elvis was not a myth, but an obese reality, I became obsessed with seeing him. We had a few days to kill until his performance, so to keep him fresh in everyone's mind, I talked about him constantly. Here's a representative conversation.
Paul: "What do you guys want to eat tonight?"
Cody: "It doesn't matter to me, as long as it takes less than 16 hours. I have to go see Big Elvis tomorrow afternoon!"
Repeat ad nauseam, until my companions attacked me in my sleep with socks full of bars of soap. It takes more than a ruptured spleen and pulmonary embolism to deter me and my jabbering, though. When the time came for Big E to storm the stage, I had worked my travelling companions into an annoyed frenzy, where they couldn't help but want to TCB with me. And so, when the time of his first performance approached, we stormed down from our hotel room like a pack of ravenous hippos, ready to wallow in the impressively bizarre.
As we approached the front of the Barbary Coast, Big Elvis's venue, I heard something strange being piped through the PA. "Wow, that sounds a lot like Elvis," I thought, "except there's a lot more grunting and gasping involved." It sounded like some middle-aged man was being forced to haul an armoire up some stairs by himself, all the while belting out "Burnin' Love". My hopes were high.
We entered the casino, and sure enough, it was packed (let it never be said that the people of Las Vegas fail to recognize their virtuosos). I pushed my way up to the stage, and prepared myself to take in some splendor. I gazed upwards, ready to release a yelp of
triumph when I made visual contact. There was no yelp of triumph, though, only a sigh of disappointment. The stage was full of people, but no one stood out as Big Elvis. One guy was pretty fat, but he looked more like Big Midwestern Accounts Receivable Guy than Big Elvis. It was a good thing I left my punching gloves next to the bidet in the room.
I looked back at my companions and shrugged. Like so many other times in my life, my quest to find inexpensive, corpulent entertainment had led me to a dead end. It was at this point, my darkest moment in Vegas, that Paul spoke up.
"Oh man, I see him over at the edge of the stage, and he is HUGE."
I was positioned at an awkward angle to the stage, so I pushed more towards the center. After shoving aside a few Mormons, I finally saw the source of the commotion. There, impressively large in his white sequined jumpsuit, sitting in a folding chair at the edge of the stage, was Big Elvis. I threw up a quick raise the roof hand gesture and steeled myself for the show of a lifetime.
After roughly 30 seconds of entertainment, Big E stopped the music. Was he going to lead us in prayer? Or maybe dedicate a song to me? Unfortunately not.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm now going to take a quick break. I'll be back in 15 minutes."
I come all the way from Austin, annoy the hell out of my friends about the show, and physically assault several anonymous people so I can see him, and he leaves immediately; you play dirty pool, Big Elvis. Right before I launched into my murderous rage, my brain parsed the second part of his sentence, and I decided I would just wait. After all, I had already waited 23 years for this, 15 minutes wouldn't kill me. My friends were as intrigued as I was, so we camped out at the Rodney Dangerfield slot machines.
Fifteen minutes because twenty five, which soon stretched to fifty. Had someone not taken a tray of milkshakes to the backstage area midway through the wait, I would've sworn that Big E had passed away from the exertion. After several minutes of theatrical sighing directed towards the Big E team, a member of my party located Big E's mom (seriously) and asked when he'd be back on. Her response? "Oh, another 25 minutes."
Now, I do not fancy myself as the slightest bit insightful. Nevertheless, I can't help but think that maybe the reason no one will pay to see Big Elvis, who is one hell of a performer, is because he takes 75 minute breaks after only being on stage for 30 minutes. And mind you, the show was only 3 hours. I soon found myself storming out of the casino and back to the Flamingo, our base of operations for the week.
When I entered the ground floor casino of our hotel, I was struck with a great idea. While Big E was taking his break, I would amass a minor fortune here at the tables. Then, I would use my windfall to bankroll a fatter Elvis with a better work ethic. It was almost too good. Sadly, a potent combo of bad luck and general confusion regarding the rules conspired against me. Half an hour later, I slunk back to see Big E. He was sitting on stage, singing his heart out. I watched him do two songs, then he went on break again.Posted by Cody at June 15, 2004 6:09 PM