Elvis Religion: The Cult of the King

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The cult of Elvis Presley has, since his death, become ever more pervasive in American culture. From Graceland to Las Vegas, from fans to impersonators, from novels, films and popular music to websites, outsider art and tabloid conspiracy theories, Elvis Religion explores this frequently bizarre phenomenon and investigates how the King of Rock 'n' Roll became a god-like figure. Elvis, we discover, is found everywhere. Not just an icon for late night lonely hearts in Memphis, or Elvis impersonators on a Vegas stage, he is the inspiration behind the violence of movies like Mystery Train and Wild at Heart, the kitsch sanctuary of Graceland Too, the music of Kirsty MacColl and Paul Simon, and the Internet church for whom he is a supernatural being dwelling in the constellation of Orion.
Gregory L. Reece makes a journey to discover the Jumpsuit Jesus for himself, taking him into the heart of fan obsession. Along the way, he discovers that if Elvis Saves, it is because the Memphis Messiah seems like a prophet for our times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A well-done and readable survey."--Simon Reynolds, author of Rip it Up

"This touching personal portrayal touches the blurred line between sincerity and irony that characterizes Elvis fandom...Reece's journey takes him away from the loving hoards in Memphis towards an increasingly kooky range of texts that parody the Elvis phenomenon as a cruel joke about obsession, the South, working class humility and taste."--Mark Duffett, University College, Chester

"Reece writes about Elvis religion with a cool grace, style and wit. This is a very readable, intelligent and sardonically perceptive treatment of the strange byways of the Elvis faith. As the Presleyterians would say: E-men!"--Norman Girardot, Lehigh University

"The mixture of sincerity and irony Reece found in the Elvis world is reflected in his colloquial, humorous writing style. . . interesting and definitely thought-provoking reading."--Susan macDougall, Elvis Information Network

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845112561
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/8/2006
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.63 (w) x 8.73 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory L. Reece's first memory of a public event is of being told of Elvis' death--the beginning of a lifelong fascination. He is a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Table of Contents

1 Elvis in Memphis : happy hour at the Heartbreak Hotel 7
2 Elvis incarnate : impersonators, tribute artists, and priests 23
3 Elvis in film : violent visions, ambiguous angels 47
4 Elvis in fiction : Memphis messiah, jumpsuit Jesus 71
5 Elvis in song : Graceland gospel, Elvis elegies, and ironic invitationals 95
6 Elvis in art : outsider Elvis and Graceland too 113
7 Elvis on the Internet : Presleyterians, eighth day transfigurists, and the Dizgraceland Chapel 135
8 Elvis in the tabloids : alive and coming back! 155
9 Ironic kingdom : Elvis and religion in popular (and not so popular) culture 179
Postscript : pass the Elvis-themed lunchbox and thermos salt-and-pepper shaker set, please 193
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