Elvis was her man

Monday Book Review

October 31, 1994|By Victor Paul Alvarez

DON'T ASK FOREVER : MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH ELVIS. By Joyce Bova, as told to William Conrad Nowels. Kensington Books. 386 pages. $20

HIS WAS a love that could destroy the object of its desire.

She, Joyce Bova, was the object of Elvis Presley's desire for three years, beginning in 1969 when they met in Las Vegas. The book, "Don't Ask Forever: My Love Affair with Elvis," is her version of "The Victor King and I."

It is corny, verbose and self-conscious. To make matters worse, the ghostwriter, William Conrad Nowels, never saw an adjective he didn't like.

But it's also a lot of fun. We see Elvis happy, mad, sad, rejected, impatient and funny. We watch him perform in Las Vegas and we hear him exchange soap operatic dialogue with the author in bedrooms and on the telephone. When they eat, our suspicions are confirmed as he chomps cheeseburgers three at a time.

And the dialogue is priceless.

" 'Boy, I was a saint compared to what they have today,' he went on. 'I was never vulgar. Did you ever listen to the words in some of those Rolling Stones songs? And that uh, whatsis name? David Bowie? He is some kind of weirdo, man.' "

They would see each other when their schedules allowed, either at Graceland or in Washington where she worked as an aide for the House Armed Services Committee. Her career fascinated him, as long as it didn't interfere with their seeing each other.

The relationship eventually suffered and died from his reliance on drugs, although she says Elvis never admitted having a drug problem because he thought that if a doctor prescribed something, it wasn't really a drug.

While Elvis fans will not be disappointed, they may be a bit shocked. Ms. Bova is not always kind in her portrayal of the King.

Ms. Bova, a Baltimore native, claims she met Elvis in Las Vegas in 1969. She claims she aborted Elvis' child. She also claims the Big E hooked her on sleeping pills.

Yet she writes that she "lived for a while in the heat and glow of this star and I believe that for me, his light will never dim."

So it wasn't all that bad. In fact, one would have to conclude Ms. Bova considers herself one of the world's luckiest people. No matter how silly some of this gets, her sincerity will eventually get to you.

Her best moment is in the epilogue. Years after she and Elvis had split up, Ms. Bova was troubled by rumors of the deterioration of Elvis' performances. In the summer of 1975, she went to Las Vegas to see him perform.

"The man spotlighted onstage only remotely resembled the Elvis I had known. He was almost grotesque, ballooned to a pathetic caricature of his former self. With the crowd around me still yelling and cheering for more of this awkward, pitiful parody of former greatness, I stood up, and wiping the tears from my cheeks, walked sadly up the aisle and away."

Victor Paul Alvarez is a free- lance writer.

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