Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Elvis and Me (Vintage Elvis Portrait and Collectibles)

Good morning!

Whoo-wee, did I have a lousy afternoon at work yesterday. Nonfiction was overrun by people, from all walks of life, who do not assign due importance to the use of deodorant and practice of personal hygiene made necessary by humid southern months, right up in my face, taking temporary passes for the computer. Towards the homestretch of the early-evening shift, I was harangued, at length, by a patron who was certain that by restarting his computer after a technical glitch, I was in some way sending his personal information first-class mail to the tin-foil people in the sky he reports to, and let me tell you, he was not having it any other way. Blessed with a Jimmy Stewart like sense of perseverance, somehow coupled with the withering sarcasm of someone with an actual mental disorder, it was a soul-crushing example of the "sit there and take it" I have come to associate with working a public information desk. Ugggggh. There are days that I hate civil service worse than others, and Tuesday mid-day was one of them.

However! The universe rewarded me, kind of sort of, in a laugh-forget-your-sorrows trip to Great Escape in Madison, by offering up this consolation prize for a day that was "I just quit" worthy. Don't we make a sweet couple? Check out me and the Big E:

I've broken the cardinal rule of never posing in a photo with Elvis that I set down years ago in this blog post.
Oh well!
Ain't he a pip? The image is screened on canvas and bears a copyright on the back that dates it to "PORTRAITS OF THE STARS, INC." and the year 1979. I can't wait to find a suitably enormous, ornate gold frame to put around this guy! The relatively realistic rendering of the man himself, coupled with the weird, fiery red background, makes for a lot of vintage bang for my buck, here. I love it!

While he spent years and years under my radar, just to the periphery of the oldies' I was interested in, I read Peter Guralnick's INDISPENSIBLE two volume biography of Elvis Presley the in-between freshman and sophomore years of college summer I was a Girl Scout camp counselor. Almost immediately, I sank like a stone in a deep pool of Elvisophilia. I can remember sitting in my bunk, doused in OFF bug repellent but still smacking mosquitoes off my shining shins, so deeply interested in the Greek tragedy like rise and fall of the 20th century's most recognizable musician that I would be loathe to rise and lead the little cadettes off to the mess hall for dinner. So engrossing!

Over the years, I realize I have amassed a number of Elvis related vintage items, some of which you can see here:

1) T-shirts:

These I've mentioned before, but never had a chance to photograph and share with you guys...AMAZING Elvis iron-on t-shirts from probably a little after the King's untimely death in 1977. I picked these up at an estate sale where there was TONS of Elvis memorabilia, ranging from coffee table books to multi-cassette box sets to a pair of lamps with bases shaped like EP in the "Hound Dog" phase of his career. Strangely, right down to the cassettes, everything was priced between ten and thirty dollars (ie, between five and thirty dollars more than any of it was actually worth in an estate sale setting), except this stack of t-shirts, which were ONE DOLLAR apiece. Now, knowing from my post on rock n roll concert shirts how freakin' hard it is to not be a Miley Cyrus level celebrity who can spend $500 on a t-shirt, and get rock n roll t-shirts for anywhere near a reasonable price, you can imagine I almost had a heart attack in this transaction.

2) Photo Plus Frame:

While the perspective in these two photos make them look similarly sized, the one on the left is 12'' x 36'', and the one on the right is maybe 6'' x 8''. Gold-suit Elvis came from a 50% closing sale at Hollywood Video, and just couldn't be resisted. That suit was made by western tailor Nudie at the behest of Presley manager Col. Tom Parker, and worn together only once for the cover of 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't be Wrong. Elvis, who had a sincere interest in clothes since his early days in Memphis buying shockingly rockabilly items for his wardrobe at Lansky Bros, thought he looked goofy in all gold, and would wear the shirt with a black pants, the jacket with a white shirt and black pants, or the pants with a black shirt, but never the gaudy combo all together as you see it here. To the right, an Elvis Presley Enterprises "Love Me Tender" plastic frame with "signed" Elvis candid inside. "Best Wishes, Elvis Presley", the inscription reads. DREAMY. Found this at an estate sale in Clarksville almost a year ago (and blogged about it then!).


One of my most prized vintage items is this Elvis bust, which was spotted at an estate sale in the Neely's Bend area of Madison for one dollar. ONE DOLLAR, you say. How is that possible?! Well, at the time, EP looked a heck of a lot more like Liberace, with the skin tone you see painted in, but his shirt, eyebrows, eyes and hair a ghostly white. I think this was intentional, is the weird thing-- someone bought the bust unpainted, did the skin, and went "Hey! He looks kind of freaky like this! Let's leave him!" Luckily, my sister Sus had both the art supplies and the skill to restore EP to his rightful color scheme. Thank you, Sus!

As you can see, I have kind of a thing for Elvis. And I'm glad my Tuesday was made a little more bearable for the fact that I could snap up this awesome portrait to add to the collection.

Do you have any pop-up, mini-collections of things just based on your fondness for a certain public figure or thing? Any Elvis memories or memorabilia floating around in your life? How's work been treating YOU lately? Let's talk!

Gotta get back to the grind. Pray for me that the guy from yesterday's verbal debacle does not return. Either way, have a lovely Wednesday and I'll see you on the other side!


  1. I love Elvis in a lavender lady blouse!

    1. Haha, that blue is meant to bring out his eyes!

  2. Do you have any before images of the Elvis bust? I remember how intimidating his only-the-skin-tone creepy face was, staring me down with his white eye hollows while I worked on it.

    YOU HAVE SO MANY COOL ELVIS THINGS! Let us never forget the Summer of Elvis. <3

    1. No, it was in the pre-blog days so I didn't think to photodocument it (boo!). Summer of Elvis quote: "TAKE A PICTURE OF MY HEAD! WE'RE STILL AT GRACELAND!" I need to scan those pics and do a post on that some Friday!

  3. Those T-shirts are amazing!! There's a store not far from me, here in Los Angeles, that would certainly sell those for 500 bucks apiece. So, haha...if you ever need to make a quick buck, I guess you've got a little emergency savings account there!

    1. They're my rainy day fund! :) And what's more, they're an adult small, which you ne-e-e-e-ver find vintage t-shirts in. They fit so nicely, even at 500 bucks I might have to think twice! Money can't come between me and E, haha!

  4. love the Elvis bust! a little scary...!!!

  5. oh gurl you know i love elvis too! that portrait is a great find! and that bust! i would KILL For one of those big chalkware elvis lamps! but i've never seen one in the wild. travis claims there was one at the flea martket or 80 bucks but i'm so mad at him for not picking it up, i'll just pretend he was mistaken!

    1. oops, that was me, using the mister's computer

    2. WANT. LAMPS. NEED. LAMPS. I've seen a few at estate sales and in antique stores but always very expensive and/or badly done. The right Elvis lamps are waiting for both of us, somewhere, somehow!



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