A short, sharp shot of Pepsi Cola
It was Saturday night and I had been working my residency slot at the Rio in Streatham. My act went backwards through the three eras of Elvis, each with a quick costume change, starting with the 1970s, then the 1960s, and then the 1950s. The crowd loved me. Take it from me, my Viva Las Vegas is unsurpassed by any Elvis Tribute Artist you will ever see, anywhere.
When I went into Love Me Tender I saw desire flash through some of the women’s eyes, saw it in the way their bodies stiffened with surprise and then relaxed. It disconcerted them of course, it always does, but there was lust in the air, moist and fragrant. A hen party was grouped around a table, all tinsel and feathers and headbands with floppy cocks on them. Some of those girls were giggling, some were open-mouthed, and some of them kind of shape-shifted into tender, furry animals before my eyes. When I came off stage (one encore, two standing ovations), I was pretty sure I was going to get lucky.
Riding this invincible, priapic wave, I swept back to my dressing room. My plan was to change into my bespoke 1968 Comeback Special black leather outfit and wait it out for ten minutes before I returned to mingle with the bride-to-be and her friends.
But he was there, waiting for me: my nemesis. He was sitting in my faux-leather swivel chair, eyes trained like snipers on the mirror waiting for me to come in.
‘How did you get in here?’
‘Walked straight in.’
‘Come to pick a bone.’
I did not answer. I pulled a hard-backed chair from the corner of the room, deliberately slowly so that the wooden legs scraped against the floorboards. I wheeled him back a couple of paces and sat before the mirror. I did not want to take off my make up and sideburns – they were critical to my chat up routine – so I just lined up the acetone, cold cream and baby wipes on the counter and waited for him to begin.
‘There’s only one Dwarf Elvis in London and that’s me,’ he said.
‘Let me guess. Business is bad. You’ve got no bookings. And you’re blaming me.’
‘It’s your bloody fault!’
‘It’s not my fault, Anthony.” I pronounced the ‘th’ of his name just as he liked it, “It’s not my fault that you can’t sing.’
‘I can sing!’
‘Not like me. Not like the King.’
‘It boils down to this. When people book a Dwarf Elvis Tribute Artist, they book you. You’re everywhere. Residency here at the Rio. Monthly slot at the Clapham Grand. Top of the Google search. And you’re not even a dwarf! You’re taking my work.’
I had a feeling it would come down to this, that I am not, technically, a dwarf. 4”10 is a dwarf in my book, but I am perfectly proportioned (everywhere, baby), and I do not have a genetic condition, so the correct term for me in current medical vogue is ‘very small person’ or ‘little person’. It used to be ‘midget’ but apparently that’s offensive.
‘I get booked, Anthony, because I am classy,’ I replied, ‘I am an artist in a small package. I am one of the chosen ones.’
‘I am going to sue you for misrepresentation.’
I did not flinch. I decided to humour him. ‘You’ve done your research.’
‘Yes, I have.’
‘You know, you should talk to my agent. We discussed it when he signed me. He thinks that ‘Dwarf Elvis’ rolls off the tongue better than any of the alternatives.’ I picked up a can of Elnett and sprayed it into my quiff.
‘But it’s not what you are. You’re lying to people.’
‘Oh please. You’re lying to people when you tell them you can sing! Anyway, if I change my stage name and you suddenly become the only Dwarf Elvis in town, people will book you thinking it’s me, which sounds to me like misrepresentation.’
‘They won’t care.’
‘Until you open your bloody mouth! And then maybe I’ll sue you for ruining my reputation. Here’s an idea. Why don’t you call yourself Prick Elvis?’
‘Don’t push me, Simon.’ He slid off the swivel chair and started walking towards me.
‘Or Cocksucker Elvis?’
He punched me. It stung a bit but I could take it. I grabbed him by the throat. I lift weights for an hour a day. It wasn’t hard to push him down onto the floor and straddle his chest.
‘Now get this straight,’ I said to him, holding his jaw in one hand, ‘I am Dwarf Elvis. You can sue me if you want to, but you’ll lose and you know it. I can afford a shit hot lawyer because I can bloody well sing like the King. I heard his voice, Anthony, his ac-tu-al voice, telling me that I was one of his chosen sons. And he was right. Because did you hear those standing ovations back then? Do you appreciate what you’re up against here? You don’t stand a cat’s chance in hell. Now, why don’t you fuck off home and we’ll pretend this never happened?’
He scampered away after that, mumbling something about my not hearing the last of it. I’m not worried.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re right, I did not show him any mercy. There are winners and there are losers in this world. And you want me to apologise for being a winner?
About the Author
Z. L. Porter lives in North Yorkshire with her husband, children, and chickens.
Published 27 July 2016