Elvis and a Showgirl


Elvis and a Showgirl, Elvis and a Showgirl…

That sums up my public relations career in Las Vegas.

When I began working in the Las Vegas PR market, I was fresh from big ‘ol mean and serious business PR in the Bay Area. My new job seemed like fun, though the finer points seemed a bit of a joke at first. But the joke just kept on running.

I worked on the travel and tourism account, which sounded so glamorous on paper. The PR was intended to drive tourism and entice travelers to come to Vegas. What do you use to entice travelers? Gaming, dining, nightlife and shopping. Easy enough, right? Well, not so much considering all the properties (Vegas-speak for the big hotel-casinos) were generating it all on their own. Beyond that, PR in this town is mainly grand openings and PR stunts. Who do you hire for a grand opening or a stunt? Elvis and a Showgirl.

My first PR task was to pull off one of those “stunts,” and to hire — you guessed it — Elvis and a Showgirl. Which was entertaining, to say the least, and refreshing after a 10-month lay-off. We hired Brendan Paul, who is by far the best Elvis impersonator in town. He really looks like Elvis, and he’s quite handsome, if you can get past the cake make-up and sculpted eyebrows. And the fact that he’s 6’7″. The guy was great with messaging. I prepped my Elvis with talking points, and he remembered every last bit of spin! He was a great spokesperson!

Afterward, I wanted to throw myself in front of a bus. What just happened to me? I went from pitching serious business stories to The New York Times to media training Elvis to talk to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Another important task I had to tackle was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death in August 2002. I happily handed it off to my PR specialist after my client nixed their original plan to throw $30k toward a video news release (VNR) that served as a retrospective of Elvis’ life and career in Vegas. Instead, they threw a whole $2k at a death celebration where the Singing Elvi performed a 30 minute concert under the Fremont Street experience.

Imagine, 20 Elvi on one stage. All walks of life. Grandpa Elvis. Transgendered Elvis. Latino Elvis. 10-year-old Elvis. Morbidly Obese Elvis. And my favorite, Middle-aged Filipino Who Wears No Underwear Under That Tight White Polyester Jumpsuit Elvis. Thank you, I truly needed to see your twig and berries. What a tribute. Wait, what’s that I hear? Oh, it’s just The King himself rolling over in his Graceland grave.

Lookie here! It’s my dear friend Kris and I at said concert. Look who we’re with! It’s a SHOWGIRL!

Years later, I met my former client ‘E’ for lunch. As I jabbed spoonfuls of sweet potato into Makenna’s mouth, E told me about how her boyfriend was growing bored with all the PR stunts and grand openings he had to do at his agency. The kicker? He was working hard on a dignified grand opening for an important cancer research facility. His superior had just asked the plans to be changed. To what? A casino night…featuring Elvis and a Showgirl.


One Response to “Elvis and a Showgirl”

  1. 1 180/360

    I personally prefer bad Elvis impersonators. I used to have to photograph weddings with Elvis and the absolute worst was Eddie Powers.
    He was always drunk and couldn’t remember the lyrics. He would sing the first few words, then hum along for a few bars and then throw the chorus back in. It was the funniest thing ever.

    We should hire him for Padge’s party for a laugh!

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