West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 11 | August 15 - 25, 2007

Performance

The 30th Anniversary Commemorative Elvis Celebration
August 17 – August 19, 12 – 7 p.m.
Ideal Glass Gallery
22 East 2nd Street
(212-598-9600, idealglass.org)

Photo by Will McKinley

Jelvis enjoys a PB&B at Peanut Butter & Co. on Sullivan St.

A conversation with The Kosher King

By Will McKinley

The only thing Elvis loved more than his momma was a fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich. Unfortunately for The King, he liked those sandwiches a bit too much.

So this week, as America honors the 30th anniversary of the day Elvis left the building called life, I sat down for a grilled PB&B (on whole wheat) with Willard Morgan, the actor, singer and comedian better known as Jelvis, The Jewish Elvis.

Village native Morgan (in character) will be hosting “The 30th Anniversary Commemorative Elvis Celebration,” a three-day participatory art installation that will include live performances, multi-media, and more kitsch than you can shake a shtick at. This is the launch event for Ideal Glass Gallery, an East Village atelier for artists of all disciplines, housed in an industrial space that used to be a Popsicle factory.

Something tells me that Elvis would feel right at home there.

WILL McKINLEY: Is Elvis really dead?

JELVIS: As the Elvis estate puts it, this year is the 30th anniversary of “the Elvis Legacy.” They don’t use the word death.

There are people who think that Elvis still walks among us.

Yes, there are certain individuals who still believe. I think they reside mostly below the Mason Dixon Line. I actually had an Elvis sighting last night. I was scraping the bottom of a peanut butter jar and I saw his image.

And that jar is now available on EBay.

Yes, but I can get it for you wholesale.

Have you always been an Elvis fan?

I didn’t like Elvis when I was a kid because all the girls liked him. He was every young man’s competition back then. Our manhood was threatened by The King. I didn’t have the hair or the looks.

How about the pelvis?

That was still in development.

When did you change your view?

About ten years ago, when I saw a documentary called “Elvis — That’s the Way It Is.” It showed me what an unbelievable performer he was.

Was that when Jelvis was born?

Actually that happened a few years earlier. I’m a comedian and it started as a joke. I used to stumble around, pop pills and make fun of his over-indulgence. There’s more respect now.

What are Jelvis’s greatest hits?

Well there’s “Blue Suede Yarmulke,” “All M’shugaed Up” and “Little Shiksa.” That’s one of my favorites. It’s all about the girls that drive us Jewish boys crazy.

What do you wear when you perform?

The jumpsuit, a wig and a Star of David, which is sterling silver.

Is that your bling?

Yes. And I have an extensive collection of costume jewelry made in China.

Tell me about the memorial event.

It’s a four-day continuous installation of everything Elvis. The first night is a private event, but over the course of the weekend there will be 10 to 20 different musical acts, all different styles, coming in for impromptu jam sessions. We’re showing every movie that Elvis ever made on 20 monitors. And there will be a great deal of memorabilia.

Any rare stuff?

There’s nothing that Elvis ever touched, saw or sweated upon. I do have a collection of Elvis magnets, which will be adorning a refrigerator door.

How about velvet paintings?

There’s a very nice one from Tijuana.

Is that from your personal collection?

Yes. I picked it up at a garage sale in Los Angeles.

Are people encouraged to come in costume?

People are encouraged to come and express their inner Elvis outwardly in whatever shape or form that takes.

Is there a particular time that people should show up if they want to see some good stuff?

From 12 until 7 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, fans will be able to confess their Elvis passions on camera. They can talk about how Elvis changed their lives.

Did he change your life?

Yes. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this.


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