Helga Meets the God of Excess


September 21, 1991|By HELEN CHAPPELL

OYSTERBACK, MARYLAND — Oysterback, Maryland.--I guess because I, Desiree Grinch, proprietor of the Blue Crab Tavern, dragged her there, Helga Wallop and I went into Salisbury to the new mall to see the Jimmy Velvet Traveling Elvis Museum and Mike El, the Elvis Impersonator that my friend Delores up in Havre de Grace saw at the Conowingo Inn. Helga likes Elvis all right, but she's not a hard-core fan, so she said I had to write it all up for the Bugeye because she couldn't begin to do justice to it.

The Jimmy Velvet Traveling Elvis Museum was really something. They had one of Elvis' Cadillacs, and a whole lot of his jewelry and clothes and stuff in these plastic cases. I particularly liked the watch Elvis designed himself that flashes a Star of David and a Cross every 20 seconds because it showed Elvis was really interested in religion and spiritual values, even if he did take all those pills.

I also enjoyed all of Elvis' belts and buckles and so forth that looked like he was a wrestling champion and Helga said, well, no one can accuse the man of having any taste, and I told her to shush, because this big lady with white blonde hair was standing next to us touching the case with his Christmas card of Graceland, looking all lit up like it was under siege by a SWAT team, and she was crying soundlessly and you knew she was a real Elvis fan and this was a magic moment for her.

I was wondering how they accumulated all this Elvisiana, when I noticed that everything was authenticated with a little card signed by some friend of Elvis' saying The King had given it to them. Then I knew, I mean, it is very bad taste to give away a gift, and I still have that ''Chad Everett sings the Beatles'' album Miss Nettie gave me in the church round robin last year when she was my Sunshine Sister, so you sort of wonder what kind of friends Elvis must have had who could sell the gifts he had given them.

Well, I got into a talk with Kathy Velvet, Jimmy's wife, who takes this museum all over the country, from mall to mall for 40 weeks a year, and she was very nice. I bought a porcelain bell with a picture of Elvis in ''Clambake'' on it for my collection, and Helga got one of the T-shirts with a picture of The King on it that look like black velvet paintings. She says she's going to make Poot wear it, but I've never seen Poot wear anything but those Mexican sports shirts.

So anyway, then it was time to go down to the Food Court and see the Mike El show. My friend Delores the nurse in Havre De Grace had Mike El in the hospital with knee surgery and she said he was Elvis the whole time he was in there, silk pajamas and all, so I have been dying to see him. His name is Michael, but he calls himself Mike El, I guess in tribute to The King.

She later saw him at the Conowingo Inn, and she said it was a pretty good show for a guy from Aberdeen, but I said well, he can't be any worse than Tonto Shively was when he was doing his Elvis impersonation at the Waterman's Convention in O.C. last January. You have not lived until you have seen an Elvis-impersonating waterman, but that is another story.

Well, he doesn't look like Elvis, so I guess he hasn't had plastic surgery or anything, and Helga said he looked like just like Poot doing an Elvis impression so I had to tell her to hush, but he stood up there with what I think was the Blue Heaven Band and shook his butt, which was draped with all these chains, all over the place, and there were about a thousand little old redneck ladies in there and they just all swooned and took on something fierce.

He had this girl who was probably his daughter handing him these red Arnel scarves, and he would sing and drape them around his neck then hand them out to the little old redneck ladies in the audience. After a while these little kids would come up to the stage, and he would hand them out to the little girls, which was real cute, I thought. Then he came down into the audience and sang to the ladies, and when he got up on top of us, I thought maybe I would get a scarf, but Helga reached out and jerked one of the chains on his butt.

Well, there was quite a scene, and I almost lost my porcelain bell, but one of the security guards, a real cute one, said he'd meet us over to Dockside Murphy's later, and he did. We didn't get in till about one in the morning, and Poot and Earl Don were furious but not as furious as I was at Helga for jerking Mike El's chains. Naturally I would never go back there for another show, but Helga says it doesn't matter since he only sings the real God of Excess late-model stuff, not the great stuff like ''Heartbreak Hotel,'' or ''Blue Christmas.'' But, I'll give him this, Helga said, he's a got a great sense of showmanship.

I'm just mad that she got one of those red Arnel scarves and I didn't.

Helen Chappell, an Eastern Shore writer, is the world's only authority on Oysterback, Maryland.

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