They said there could be no “Elvis.” But they never said anything about Purvis, the off-brand answer to filling the void of absent white jumpsuits that had made the city feel noticeably darker of late. Well, that and the constant barrage of monsoons that seemed to come almost daily in the post-climate change apocalypse. Elliott, who had always hated his name, knew he could have gone by “Pelvis” instead—to really drive home the point that he was meant to be “Elvis.” But he didn’t want to be so obvious as to invoke the continued potential of a lawsuit from Totally Real Brands Inc. The nefarious company who also owned the rights to Marilyn Monroe’s image and likeness. Elliott felt bad for both stars, pillaged for profit-generating motives as they were in life and death.
Yet he didn’t feel bad enough to give up on performing as some version of Elvis. The job had been his easy bread and butter for so long, that he couldn’t even envision being capable of something else at this point. He also never imagined he could get upset about something as seemingly trivial as not actually receiving the credit he deserved for coming up with the loophole. Doing everyone else a solid by informing them that if they were just “off-brand” enough, they could go on as Elvis… by being something like Purvis.
He didn’t have to give them this tip (granted, he knew they would catch on sooner or later). He was doing it out of solidarity with his Elvis brethren. Or rather, Purvis brethren. And sure, he knew that “Purvis” was anything but a sexy or “rock ‘n’ roll” kind of name, but that served as even more of a reason to use it. That way, Totally Real Brands Inc. couldn’t say shit. They would have nothing. They already had nothing. Which is probably why they felt obliged to cash in on a few extra alms where they hadn’t before. Likely because Elvis wasn’t making much money elsewhere. He was at his most beloved and relevant in Sin City. In every other context, he had been reframed with a #MeToo lens and largely cast aside as the bloated sack of shit he was.
“Purvis,” as he decided to legally change his name to since it honestly wasn’t that much worse than Elliott, was ready to salvage what he could of “The King’s” legacy, while also remaining self-aware and “au courant” by shading him with an alter ego that had a name such as this. For everyone knew Elvis was a pedophilic pervert. It wasn’t really a secret in life, nor was it in his “afterlife.” Where he was resuscitated every night to be channeled through some Vegas impersonator. “Entertainer” was the word they preferred. Purvis didn’t have such grandiose ideas about what he did for a living. He donned a flamboyant jumpsuit, giant glasses and spoke in a Southern drawl. There wasn’t an art to it. Well, not until he had to get creative about finding ways to be “like” Elvis but not quite. Purvis didn’t wear a white jumpsuit, for example. He sported a tie-dye one. And for wedding ceremonies that could be billed as “rock ‘n’ roll themed”—for the patrons to get the gist of what the chapel really meant by that—Purvis would don a more James Dean sort of look: blue jeans, leather jacket and maybe even a fedora. Everyone dressed like that in the 50s, not just Elvis.
So there! Take that Totally Real Brands Inc. You greedy, money-grubbing bastards! This was what they had reduced hard-working impersonators—people—to. Like they got off on the power they held to take Elvis away on a whim. Why hadn’t they ever been bothered by it before this moment? Huh? Purvis could smell something rotten in the state of Nevada, and it wasn’t just the bodies that were being dragged out of the ever-diminishing lake each day.
But he couldn’t dwell for very long on the dubious reasons why Totally Real Brands Inc. might be so gung-ho about their cease-and-desist letters when, suddenly, all around him, every former Elvis impersonator had become Purvis. As though overnight. It was quite a shock to the real Purvis, who had simply informed his brothers in Elvis impersonation that they could get around the cease-and-desist by making just enough tweaks to the costume. He didn’t tell them it was okay to take the Purvis name for themselves, for fuck’s sake. But he was still naïve then. He didn’t understand yet that he would soon essentially “transcend” into his own form of Totally Real Brands Inc. Not that anyone cared about that middling company now that Elvis was effectively replaced by “Purvis.” It was as though the former was but some faint recollection from a potentially manufactured memory, like the ones a person recovering from a blackout might have. And since Vegas thrived on blackout mode, the Purvis business was booming more than the Elvis one ever had. All thanks to the real Purvis innovator and impersonator. The irony of calling himself “real” being lost on Purvis entirely.
Perhaps that’s why he gathered enough evidence of being the “trademark owner” of Purvis to create his own cease-and-desist letter, effectively becoming “The Man.” And the qualities he once so loathed in Totally Real Brands Inc., he realized, were merely a system of functioning “successfully” in a capitalist society. And wasn’t that what Vegas was ultimately all about, baby? Obviously, it was easy to forget what that philosophy did to other people while one was at “the top.” Indeed, Purvis had forgotten about his life at the bottom altogether, until someone new blew into town. An impersonator in his own class.
Rather than going for “Jumpsuit Purvis,” this man, Mavis, opted to call himself “Rock and Roll, King of” (Totally Real Brands Inc. had licensing rights to “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”). While it didn’t slip easily off the tongue, people seemed to gravitate toward this imitation of a more ripped, dashing Elvis. Even though his Vegas incarnation had never been about that era. Purvis couldn’t believe what he was seeing as the chapels that offered “rockabilly” Mavis a.k.a. “Rock and Roll, King of” were swiftly seeing a far greater spike in wedding requests than the Purvis-offering ones. It was enough to make his blood boil. Who did this Mavis character think he was (apart from an Elvis wannabe?). It had to stop—immediately.
Luckily for Purvis, he still held a far higher position of power. He was even a valued member on the Las Vegas City Council by now. He had clout, goddammit. And he was going to use it. But when multiple attempts at legal thwarting and local blacklisting didn’t keep Mavis at bay, as he only seemed to garner more favor among the tourists for his good looks and titillating physique, Purvis decided it was time to take a page from the gangsters who had once used Lake Mead as their burial ground. Unfortunately, just another shitty element of the present was that Lake Mead was too fucking low to dump a body. Purvis would have to tell his goons to dispose of it at some other secreted location. And the one that came to mind instantly was an abandoned train track just outside the city limits.
In fact, maybe it was the very train track by which Mavis blew into town like the otherworldly mirage he came across as. And that’s how he would leave, too. For Purvis had already decided what Mavis’ “legend” would be, just as he had decided Elvis’ when he no longer served any money-making ends. Except Mavis would disappear from everyone’s memory altogether. Purvis would make sure of that. He wasn’t “The King” for nothing, after all.