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VICENZA, Italy — Las Vegas took a few pieces of Venice as a theme for one of its high-end hotels. So it’s probably justice that a 38-year-old American has given the Veneto region a little glitz and sequins in return.

Kevin Boucher is Elvis Presley. Or as close to Elvis as those stationed at Caserma Ederle are likely to see anytime soon.

“He sounded exactly like him and looked exactly like him,” said Jamie Zawadski, who manages the Golden Lion club on base where Boucher made his Elvis debut in 2002. “He was really, really good. People stayed 10 times longer than normal just to listen to him.”

Boucher, who works in the base’s tax relief office, isn’t your stereotypical Elvis impersonator. He didn’t grow up listening to the King’s music much. He was just a casual fan until recently. And he thinks Presley’s movies were “horrible.”

But Boucher says he’s had fun in the few gigs he’s had and he’s very serious about his performances.

“If I was going to do this, I wanted it to be an Elvis tribute and not an Elvis joke,” he says. “You’ve got to do your homework.”

For Boucher, that has involved reading all kinds of books and other material on the rock ‘n’ roll legend. He’s also got a huge compilation of Elvis songs in a karaoke kit, so he can listen and practice before trying the songs on his own. Boucher definitely does not lip-sync on stage.

“I’m really not stretching that far to imitate Elvis from my own voice,” he says. “Hitting the high notes on some of the songs has been a challenge. Elvis had incredible range.”

As for Boucher’s range during his performances, he’s tried to mix it up some. That involves taking several of Elvis’ slower songs, mixed with some of the faster-paced material. It also means singing some of the star’s material when he was younger and some of the songs he sang in his later years.

A personal favorite?

“American Trilogy,” he says. “That one brings goose bumps.”

Boucher has brought a few smiles to the faces of those attending the handful of events he’s performed in on base. He hasn’t had any gigs off base yet, though the annual Venice costume party known as Carnivale was a big factor in him taking on the new hobby. Needing something to wear last year, he dressed up as Elvis. He started off with a jumpsuit from the local post exchange and a little work on his hair.

“People were taking pictures of me left and right,” he said. “It was just wild.”

Since then, with the help of eBay, Boucher's added white boots, chains and a belt buckle to his outfit. He’s grown his hair out longer and managed to field an impressive set of sideburns.

Told that the base was looking for some entertainment last year, he volunteered to give it a try.

“It was a hit,” he says. “Everyone loved it.”

He’s a long way from taking his act on the road, though. And he’s not planning to attend any conventions either.

“I don’t have a big head,” he says. “I don’t think I’m something I’m not. Elvis is dead. I’m not Elvis. I just want to please the crowd. That’s what it’s all about.”

Elvis is next scheduled to enter the building Jan. 9 in a performance at the Golden Lion.

Migrated
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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