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DM) Well, my first question is probably the most obvious... How much of an influence has Elvis been in your life?
EL) A lot.
DM) How much of your style is mocking him and how much is emulating him?
EL) I ain't mocking him... I'm using Elvis as a tool to meet my needs...to enlighten people of the Chicano, Mexican and Latino situation... in the process, letting people realize their own roots more... king as Metaphor... king as empowerment... king as poor man with nothing turning into greatest entertainer of all time (success--working from nothing to top American dream) AMERICAN DREAM... you don't have to be a white man in your 40's to be part of the American dream...it's for everyone...because that is America... El Vez, the Elvis you could fit in anything... I super-impose my culture and heritage over American icons... because that's what America is about.
DM) What specific issues affecting the Latino community would you like to change?
EL) Better organizational skills, better voter turnouts, less apathy, more of an economical realization... more of a face in entertainment... Latino markets we have but a broader based national American market... faces on prime time American television... which sadly to say... will turn around the other issues.
DM) Why would more exposure on television help the Latin American community?
EL) Giving the rest of the nation an idea about us... not to fear... we are here to make everyone in the southwest have to speak Spanish... we are not here to take their jobs away... for right or wrong, TV gets into people's homes and spreads messages and ideas etc... exposure.
DM) What's your answer to the argument that says we should restrict immigration?
EL) I understand people's fears when they want to restrict immigrants from coming in... but they are fearing without thinking how they can make the Latino work force work in helping with taxes etc... Latinos are willing to take the low-paying jobs that most of the (white complaining groups) would not even dream of taking.... instead of making paying under the table so attractive... these jobs could be taxed just like other work forces, helping put money into society via taxes etc... Of course, I'm over simplifying, but I'm half asleep at this moment...
DM) What you propose makes sense: instead of attacking the issue, working with the issue. I'm sure that extra tax money will help. Why hasn't an idea like that been tried before?
EL) I'm not sure, but I think fear of unemployment benefits lurks with it... if paying taxes etc. makes you eligible for unemployment... etc.
DM) What are your views about people who want to make English the national language?
EL) The idea of a national language is another fear (I'm going to have to learn to speak Spanish?). It doesn't need to be wasting our time just to say we are Americans, let's speak American... Switzerland is a great example... of multi-lingual societies working... for commerce, etc.; everywhere else in the world, everyone knows more than one language ....
DM) But aren't there benefits of mono-linguism just on the basis of clearer communication?
EL) Yeah, I can see the benefits of mono-linguism. I feel the best thing is to be flexible. I think ridge ideas are enforced, and you got to flow with ideas and change and work with the change... towards a better... .TA DA!!!!!!!
DM) Back to your career, what can people expect from your "typical" El Vez show?
EL) Costumes changes, dancing, the lovely Elvettes, social commentary/critic/satire. The story of Latino history through the music of Elvis Presley. Gold lame. Sex. Religion. Politics. Viva Las Vegas becomes viva la Raza!
DM) What Elvis trademarks do you use in your show (karate moves, jumpsuit)?
EL) I use the spirit of Elvis, the skeleton, the frame and then I go to Mars, the revolution, church or wherever I choose. Elvis and all that he presents is our frame of reference--and then, I go beyond...
DM) Which Elvis postage stamp did you vote for?
EL) I voted for the jumpsuit Elvis. I wanted to be contrary. I knew the young one would win and I do like it better, but you have to create tension sometimes. I came out with an El Vez stamp. It was advert for 1-800-king-mex. A pay phone service to talk to me etc. It looked like the young Elvis, only a Mexican flag was the background (and it was a photo of El Vez). It came out the same day as Elvis's. I was the first person in California to be presented with the Elvis stamp. It was presented to me by the Postmaster General of California. I in turn handed him a page of the El Vez stamps. We had a big party at the Hollywood post office where I performed and served an Elvis stamp cake and also an El Vez stamp cake. The filling was peanut butter and banana.
DM) What is your take on the theories that Elvis is hanging out in a K-mart somewhere or on a deserted island?
EL) There are thousands of impersonators; they shop at K-mart. Somewhere etc... It is a nice story but it is not true.
DM) What was your first impression of Graceland?
EL) I loved it! What is not to love? More people know what Elvis's house looks like inside than they do the rooms of the White House. It is beautiful. As you know, it is not the original (like when he lived in it), but it fits the bill--although it is a little smaller than you would expect the very first time you see it.
DM) "Viva la Raza!" What does that mean?
EL) "Hooray for the race!" It became a rallying call in the early seventies for Chicano groups. On a level with "Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud!"