May 4, 2016
I’m awash in nostalgia, thanks to my local newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune. First, it was an article on pay phones, which they called a “relics of a not-so-distant past.” Another article noted Elvis’ decline on the Vegas Strip.
When I was doing research for my book Las Vegas Weddings, I can assure you that Elvis impersonators or, if you prefer, tribute artists were everywhere. On one trip to the City of Lost Wages, my husband and I saw a different Elvis performing five nights in a row – downtown, on the Strip, headlining concerts, and doing stand up in casino lounges. They were all terrific. So, too, were the guys in the wedding chapels.
While the number of tribute artists in town has been constant over the last several years, there’s a lot of competition for fewer gigs. Elvis-themed shows aren’t pulling in the crowds. Viva Elvis, a Cirque du Soleil production, closed in 2012 after two years at the Aria. In comparison, Mystère, the original Cirque du Soleil production, is going strong at Treasure Island two decades after it first opened. “Graceland Presents: Elvis the Exhibition” closed less than a year into a ten-year contract.
It’s not clear what is causing the fallout in fandom. It’s possible that there was not enough Elvis and too many acrobats in the first show mentioned above, and a landlord/tenant dispute disrupted the later at the Westgate Las Vegas. By the way, Westgate was originally the International, where Elvis began his long-running comeback in 1969.
All is not lost, however, unless you’re a runner-up at the three-day Tribute Artist Contest at Sam’s Town on the Boulder Highway this July. Rooms are still available.
© 2016 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved