Elvis Haunts Me: The Role That Keeps Coming
By Big Sexy
I can’t get away. It started when I decided to move to Las Vegas. It was before my actual move, during my goodbye party at Trevor’s Rustic Inn, a locals bar in San Bernardino where I had hosted karaoke for the past 6 years when the presence of “The King” began to make itself known.
There was an abundance of Elvis songs performed that night. My dear friend Sara gave me a goodbye card in the shape of Elvis. It was from one of his Hawaiian movies. I got the joke and what made it even more funny… I wasn’t a fan.
After making the move and spending some time making a name for myself and building connections in the acting community I was told about an audition for a reality TV show called Vegas Night Court. It starred former mayor Oscar Goodman in his best Judge Judy impersonation with a Vegas twist. they were filming the pilot and wanted improvisation actors to play litigants. (sadly, the show didn’t get picked up but you can see the video here:
I got cast alongside Jeynifer Tribbett. It was my second professional acting gig in Las Vegas and the first major one. Jeynifer and I played The Bowers, a married couple who absolutely loved The King. Jesse Garon, a local impersonator, played himself. It was definitely acting that got me through the show… I wasn’t a real Elvis fan.
Actors and convention work go hand-in-hand and Vegas is a major location for hundreds of conventions. To make ends meet I would work these often.
A fellow actor and coordinator of a team building company, Phil Valentine, often hired me for these. It so happened that one of these events, all which had a Vegas flair, wanted “non-traditional Elvis impersonators” for an event. I was brought on as 1 of 3 such performers. I was black Elvis, Kris Mayeshiro was our Asian and Brook Siffrinn was our female. I got to actually make and serve peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Later that night, still in character, I hosted karaoke for the company at The Hard Rock Cafe on the Las Vegas Strip (hold on to that nugget of information).
Now, you would think that my girlfriend, working at a vocational college, would be the furthest away you could get from having anything to do with Elvis. Well, you would be wrong. Let me tell you about Belvis (Black Elvis) who appears in their commercial. (seen here at 30 secs)
Having previously played the King of Rock and actually owning an Elvis costume I was asked to be in a promotional video for Carrington College. Of course I accepted, after all, I’m an actor. It was so much fun and I absolutely loved playing Belvis.
Apparently, word got around and I was tapped to audition for a new show opening in Downtown Las Vegas called Alibi The Show. There were 6 characters and I was looking at 3 of them for myself. One of those characters was an Elvis impersonator who always messed up Elvis songs or “Elvis-ed” non-Elvis songs claiming the King obviously wrote it.
It was the perfect hybrid between my love of improv and this spectre of Elvis I couldn’t seem to shake. I got cast in that role. Frankie B. Isabel (The B is for Belvis).
At first, I thought I couldn’t escape The King. Now I see, The King can’t escape Big Sexy.
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