'The real transformation comes when I begin to dress as Elvis'
Today in Pacific Spotlight, Stripes talks with John Franklin Jones, a retired Marine who now wears a very different uniform — an Elvis Presley jumpsuit:
What led you to become an Elvis impersonator?
A number of years back … I observed the worst impersonation of Elvis that I ever saw. … I knew that the King must surely be turning over in his grave. I decided right then that someone had to do justice to the memory of Elvis.
Describe your act:
I have a number of custom-made jump suits and usually enter as the music starts (normally a slow song), pause so the audience can take in the suit, and then go right to the audience. … It may simply be a handshake, which I learned is best to get first from a male in attendance, especially if you intend on kissing the hand of the lady he’s with.
How did you choose which songs to include?
Songs fans have requested over and over. … “Love Me Tender,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Treat Me Nice,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Can’t Help Fallin’ In Love With You” …
What’s the most memorable venue in which you’ve performed?
One performance was outdoors at Torii Station, and just as the music for the first song started to play, it started to pour down rain. My sound crew was really concerned when they saw sparks flying off the microphone I was using, but I managed not to touch it and completed the 30-minute set without mishap. Another time … my stage was the side of a hill at about a 30-degree angle. Walking around the audience in boots with 2-inch heels was definitely something I’ll never forget.
What’s your favorite Elvis song?
“My Wish Came True” — especially if my wife is in the audience.
Your favorite Elvis movie?
“King Creole” because it was the first time that Elvis proved to the critics he could act.
Do you like peanut-butter-and-nanner sandwiches?
Yes but I haven’t tried them fried, which is how the King liked them best.
Which is your favorite, fat Elvis or thin Elvis?
The thin Elvis … that is the one I will always portray.
How many times have you been to Graceland?
Zero. I’ve never felt so compelled to go. … I pay my deepest respects to him every time I take the stage.
What do you do to prep for a performance, to get into Elvis mode?
The real transformation comes when I begin to dress as Elvis. By the time that the music starts, Elvis has taken over, and I’m just along for the ride.
Fans have reported seeing Elvis come back to life everywhere, including near a supermarket frozen-food case. Were he to return, where would he choose to do so? And what would he be doing?
Elvis always had a desire to travel abroad but was kept from doing so by his manager, Col. Tom Parker. I believe that he would show up somewhere in Europe or Asia. … maintain a certain degree of anonymity … perform incognito at small venues.
What’s the greatest satisfaction you get from your act?
Seeing my audience’s reaction — to what I am doing — in their eyes and on their faces. … I sometimes tell them that when I hear remarks like, “Is that you really singing?” it takes me back to when I was a teenager living in a basement bedroom of my father’s house. He’d open the cellar door and say, “John, is that you singing?” I would answer, “Yes, Dad.” And he would respond, “Well, shut up!”
John Franklin Jones
Age: Old enough to have retired after 23 years in the Marine Corps but not so old that I still have enough sense to know not to answer this question directly.
Title: Professional entertainer
Day job: Lodging manager
Pacific readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to email@example.com.