The men who would be king: Elvis impersonators who flirt with Jailhouse Rock

Weddings, bar mitzvahs, courtrooms? It turns out that being an Elvis impersonator can be criminal

Just as it seemed Paul Kevin Curtis would be doing the “Jailhouse Rock”, it turned out to have been a case of “Suspicious Minds”. Curtis, a 45-year-old Elvis impersonator, was last week accused and then cleared of posting ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, a Mississippi Senator and a local judge.

However, it emerged that Curtis was a conspiracy theorist who has made repeated claims about a government plot to harvest and sell human organs. He has struggled with mental illness, and has previously been arrested on misdemeanour charges.

Like the “King” himself, Curtis comes from Tupelo, Mississippi, where he has spent years performing not only as Elvis, but also Roy Orbison, Prince and Randy Travis, one of whose numbers he sang a cappella in an appearance on CNN on Wednesday (watch it here goo.gl/0gsox). He and his brother Jack have even impersonated Elvis together: Jack playing the Vegas-era Elvis of the 1970s, and Kevin the more youthful version.

Curtis is far from the first Elvis impersonator to fall foul of the law. Just last Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, police ended a lengthy stand-off with a local Elvis tribute artist (ETA), Micky King, who had reportedly yelled at police officers before firing a gun at them and then shutting himself in his home. Only after 30 hours did they manage to persuade him to return to his porch, where he was subdued with a stun gun and arrested.

In March 2010, according to The Huffington Post, Darin Thrasher was arrested for trafficking drugs from the diner where he performed as Elvis, in Yukon, Oklahoma. In May 2012, a South Carolinan ETA named David Allen Credile allegedly assaulted a man after a dispute about a board game, and then fled from the scene with a pair of Blues Brothers impersonators.

Last February, Elvis impersonator Michael Conley, 64, locked himself in a Florida motel room after police arrived with a warrant for his arrest. During the siege, Conley claimed to be in possession of explosives, and threatened officers with a container of ricin. Following his surrender, he confessed the ricin was actually salt, and said his behaviour was brought on by diabetes.

The prevalence of criminally-inclined Elvis impersonators is likely due not to some inbuilt correlation, but rather to the vast number of Elvis impersonators: there are more Elvis impersonators than there are Abba impersonators.

The Elvis community is “huge around the world,” agrees Shane Paterson, a “jumpsuit-era” ETA who performs at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, “and there’s a great deal of camaraderie between impersonators”. Many ETAs were concerned their act might suffer following Curtis’s arrest, but then sympathised with him following his exoneration.

“It kind of sucks to be accused of such a thing,” says Paterson, who holds a PhD in marine biology. “I feel sorry for him not as an Elvis impersonator, but as a human being. “He wasn’t even exclusively an Elvis impersonator. Elvis is just part of his act, but it’s the part the news media grabbed on to… it carries a lot of weight.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Bid Manager, London

£45000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

Marketing Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...

Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

£33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

Pen Tester / Penentration Tester

£35000 - £55000 per annum + BONUS + BENS: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Penet...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor