One of the best Elvis Presley impersonators in the world isn't very faithful to the King of Rock 'n' Roll. He doesn't re-create specific shows, he doesn't sing in English all the time, and he grafts Rod Stewart songs onto "It's Now or Never." No, El Vez, the "Mexican Elvis," is no slavish imitator. He's famous, rather, for his Velcro-aided onstage clothing changes, his devastating good looks, and his smartass reinterpretations like "Esta Bien Mamacita." El Vez is a cult figure entirely of his own making.
An outspokenly political man, he's also running for president. ("I don't like Bush," he admitted.) The "El Vez for Prez" tour kicks off in San Francisco as part of the Hecho en Califas Festival, so we took the opportunity to interview the candidate.
The tour, he told us, is structured as a musical debate, and he'll talk (and sing, and take some of his clothes off) about "the same stuff everyone's interested in -- foreign policies, immigration. All those will be addressed in a musical format." Well, good. But who exactly will you be debating, Mr. Vez? "The audience, but I have sent invitations to my opponents, so hopefully, they'll show up. Or maybe impersonators, Bush and Kerry impersonators."
Admission is $19-25
Trying to stir up trouble, we said we'd like to see him challenge Gov. Schwarzenegger to some sort of duel. He seemed up for it, and pointed out that although Schwarzenegger's pro-immigration position is agreeable, the actor really isn't a very good example of a regular immigrant. "There's not a lot of Austrian bodybuilders married to Maria Shriver. Maybe it could be Illegal Alien vs. the Terminator."
El Vez hopes this stint will capture some of the flavor of the anti-war protests he witnessed during an earlier gig here with Teatro ZinZanni: "It's a Las Vegas rock 'n' roll show," he said, "but the idea is power to the people."