hitting Gary Enders dispels the myth that Elvis is "physically"
is a covert theme, bubbling away below the surface in the mysterious,
secretive world of the "true believers", the Elvis underground. An
underground network that is full of intrigue, suspense, nastiness,
paranoia and "out of this world" theories. A myriad of issues, some
simplistic, some confusing, have been put forward in support of the
theory that Elvis needed to escape, figuratively, not literally, from
his oppressive existence in 1977.
heard the claim that Elvis didn't die on August 16, 1977.
there is no doubt Elvis Presley survives today, but to most
people the suggestion that Elvis didn't "physically"
die in 1977 is at best, fanciful, at worst delusional.
it is theme in the Elvis world that refuses to go away.
the 1980s, largely due to the work of Gail Brewer-Giorgio
and her Orion inspired conspiracy, it was an overt theme in
the mass media.
the arguments of the believers have credibility? Do they withstand
scrutiny? In my opinion, the arguments and evidence put forward
do not withstand "reasonable" scrutiny.
prove Elvis Aaron Presley did not physically pass away on August
16, 1977, a position needs to be "evidence based". And simply put,
no evidence has been presented that warrants serious consideration.
EIN's interview earlier this year with Phil Aitcheson, Executive
Liaison with the self-determined Presley Commission is a vivid example
of unsubstantiated claims, rhetoric and blinkered belief that insidiously
inhabits the collectively fanatical mind of the Elvis Is Alive underground
movement. EIN's questions were direct.
answers were vague, indirect and without qualitative substance.
In a moment, examples to prove my point.
is important to firstly put Aitcheson's position in context. The
Presley Commission released a report in 1995, the outcome of a number
of years of investigation into the issue. It is therefore reasonable
to expect substantive answers (ie. provision of "hard" evidence)
from the Commission's Executive Liaison.
Case: For and Against The Wax Dummy, Pug Nose & Sideburns: according
to Aitcheson the Commission
became aware that a wax figure "was purchased by a prominent member
of the (Presley) family, and was to be used for some bizzare purpose".
#1: Aitcheson makes this bold claim without any corroborating
evidence (name, where dummy was bought from etc). I could say “I
was abducted by aliens”, but in the absence of hard evidence what
would any rational minded person think of my claim? As for the
concern about the "pug nose" on the body, people need to remember
that an autopsy had been performed and most of Elvis' internal organs,
including his brain, had been removed, and were not replaced! A
cadaver rarely resembles its original state when sewn back up again.
This would also "reasonably" explain the sideburns that were allegedly
(and quite possibly) "glued on". Not surprisingly, the true believers
never state or consider these facts.
Smiley: Aitcheson states that: "Mrs. Smiley is a self-appointed
spokesperson for viewpoints that are not in agreement with The Commission,
as a general rule. The Commission does not maintain contact with
her, and has closed the file. She had attempted contact with The
Commission on a number of occasions".
#2: Two issues here: (1) Who appointed The Presley Commission?
Answer: it was as "self-appointed" as Mrs Smiley! The Commission
seemingly believes that its impressive title lends it credibility.
Aitcheson claims it has closed the book on Mrs Smiley. This is
clearly untrue if one visits the various underground messageboards.
Poolhouse Photo: EIN asked two fairly direct questions about
the person in the the photo.
#3: Aitcheson's answers are indirect, and he leaves the reader
hanging in the air with "More importantly there was a reason he
was there..." In the context of what the interview was about this
is an incredible statement for Aitcheson to make. Rather than adding
to our knowledge of the issues it further muddies our understanding,
although of course this is a favorite tactic of conspiracy believers.
is another theory about the man in the photo: that it is either
Elvis' cousin or Al Strada.
Darlock: EIN cites David Darlock's appearance on Geraldo, a
nationwide TV program in the US, during which Darlock admitted being
the voice behind Sivle Nora. For the record, on the Geraldo show,
Darlock stated that in 1981 he was paid $250.00 by the (Steve Chanzes/Steve
Crown) organisation, Eternally Elvis. Aitcheson attempts to nullify
this incident by suggesting Darlock later denied his involvement,
but again Aitcheson provides no specifics of date, time, where etc.
#4: The Geraldo incident is verifiable (and in fact well documented),
Aitcheson's statement is not! DNA (the "Silver Bullet"): DNA could
be the one factor that scientifically and legally proves the conspiracy
case. In response to EIN's question about "hard DNA evidence",
all Aitcheson can respond with is the importance of conducting verifiable
and sound research. I totally agree, but Mr. Aitcheson, what and
where is the Commission's verifiable and sound research?
#5: The Commission has talked about alleged DNA evidence since
the late 1990s but continually fails to put anything resembling
"hard evidence" on the public record. As of 2003, and after two
decades of research, the Silver Bullet continues to elude everyone.
Jon Burrows: it is claimed within hours of Elvis' alleged death
someone by the name of "Jon Burrows" bought a ticket to Buenos Aires.
Aitcheson's comments are a splendid example of his flimsy rhetoric:
"It is my understanding that the report of this incident was mentioned
in Gail’s book, ‘The Elvis Files’, and represents a possible sighting.
The Commission is aware of the matter, and currently has some literary
reference to it on file in the Commission archives."
#6: despite The Presley Commission having "some literary reference
to it on file", the alleged flight by the alleged Jon Burrows has
never been substantiated. But it makes a neat "reinforcing" text
in the conspirator's storyline. Spelling of Aaron: this "red herring"
has been explained adequately many times and I won't go into the
specifics except to say consider Elvis' great interest in the Bible
and how that may have influenced things. Interested fans can read
a detailed explanation about the Aaron/Aron spelling on the official
Elvis site at: www.elvis.com
other issue: in his interview, Aitcheson also said that Elvis
Presley's alleged death in 1977 is largely flawed in its explanation
by the media and others.
# 7: By now I must sound like a worn out record.....Mr. Aitcheson
please cease the generic rhetoric and give specifics!
if Elvis is dead, what is really going on? The essential problem
with the claims of The Presley Commission, Mary Smiley, Steve Chanzes,
Major Bill Smith et al is that they are broadly based assertions
devoid of "fact". They serve an important psychological driver
in that the "real" evidence is known only to those in the inner
is a clear case of people subconsciously feeling a lack of power
or influence in their lives, and satisfying that emptiness through
what is effectively a mission in self-delusion. The Elvis underground
is secretive, self-appointed and self-serving. It is a culture
in which most of its discussions are devoid of substantive analytical
fact that in many of the discourses the believers assume the important
role of protecting the interests of an allegedly still alive "Elvis"
is instructive from a psychological perspective. Professors Denisoff
and Plasketes wrote the book 'True Disbelievers: The Elvis Contagion'
in the mid 1990s. Based substantially on information supplied by
the infamous Mary Smiley it is a potently revealing, if skewed,
look at the physical and psychological workings of the Elvis underground
True Disbelievers, the authors note the operation of the psychological
condition, 'cognitive dissonance'. While the term is not well understood,
cognitive dissonance is a powerful psychological factor that explains
the behavior of conspiracy believers. Simply stated it says that
when faced with information contrary to a strongly held belief,
the person reacts through a combination of denial, devaluation of
the opposing information, revision of the belief and the development
of explanations, often new, that seem reasonable.
Phil Aitcheson's answers carefully. Throughout the interview his
answers clearly reinforce the theory that cognitive dissonance is
a powerful factor at work. Organisations such as The Presley Commission
have no legal or official standing and will never be taken seriously
as they always fail to articulate and table the "missing elements"
that are the bedrock of their belief system. That is, hard, verifiable,
irrefutable evidence that would have credence in a court of law.
on the basis of the psychological needs of believers and a propensity
not to challenge (analyze) rhetorical and colorful claims, The Presley
Commission and Gatheringite movement will continue to function in
its own little world.
leads me to the personality driven universe known as the "Elvis
Underground", a narrative world of soap opera proportions. A colleague
recently described the machinations found on Elvis underground messageboards
as a "conspiratorial soap opera".
ever changing discussion threads reflect rampant paranoia, related
cover-ups and incredible tales. A quick consideration of some of
the 'over-the-top' themes highlights the soap opera element:
had a "split-personality": the "good" twin, Elvis Aron; the "evil"
twin, Jesse Garon
couldn't sing ("doubles" performed for him on stage and in the
studio for more than 20 years!)
murdered a woman as a teenager (he was sleepwalking at the time)
accidentally killed a man while driving a truck in his late teens
was murdered by the mob
continues to act for the Government as an undercover agent
was mentally insane
suffered from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
was held "prisoner" at Graceland
died in 1997, not 1977
the recurring themes: strong motifs of "death" and "mental disorder".
Individually, any of the claims stretch credibility. Collectively,
they suggest a warped world devoid of conscious understanding or
cognizance of known realities.
given what the believers have made out of Elvis' death date (8/16/1977
= 2001) and his Christian name (elvis/lives), they are yet to recognize
the significance of the term "Elvis is King". (Hint: the USA's
major post-war encounters.)
or coincidence? I'll let you make up your own mind.
of Messageboard Postings
this year I was asked to undertake a content analysis of postings
on several Elvis "underground" messageboards. Content analysis
is a quantitative research application that classifies textual material
by reducing it to more relevant, manageable bits of data. It can
allow the researcher to identify postings that, in all likelihood,
were made by one person using different aliases. Some readers will
be familiar with the use of content analysis in revealing the authors
of infamous publications like "The Hitler Diaries".
analysis specifically sought to identify similar patterns of spelling,
grammar, punctuation, style and sentence/paragraph structure in
that at least two prominent members (who shall remain nameless)
of the Elvis underground community were posting under different
aliases. There appeared to be a dual purpose to their strategy:
support their own arguments (it always helps if others concur with
your beliefs - the "safety in numbers" philosophy) and generate
debate among believers (a good conspiracy needs to burn brightly).
The theories of The Presley Commission and others are largely conjecture
and/or open to several alternative answers. Aitcheson states there
are many issues: "that have singular answers, that ultimately satisfy
the curiosity of the public interest. Our mission has been to try
and sort it out".
20 years of the conspiracy, if Aitcheson and others were serious,
they would substantiate their case with the "singular answers" and
specific findings. But they don't, instead all we get is unsupported,
politically inspired rhetoric.
don't the major protagonists simply "table" their evidence for fans
and a court of law to evaluate? There are two interrelated answers:
there is no "hard evidence", and
if they did, their "house of cards" would quickly crumble and the
psychological satisfaction they derive from the game they are playing
would dissolve, with the return of that dreaded, sinking feeling
that must be avoided at all costs: personal impotence.
rationalization, ignorance, the need for personal power - these
are the operational constants of the Elvis underground. It is a
fertile ground where imaginations run rife, a conspiracy lover's
heaven. It should be treated as such.
Gary Enders (October 2003)
to read Phil Aitcheson's interview with EIN
to comment on this article
late Dr. Enders is author of the publications/papers:
Cultural Influence, Intolerance and Political Correctness', 2003-04
Online Symposium on Elvis Aron Presley(www.geocities.com/elvissymposium.com)
Media Reaction to the Death of Elvis Aaron Presley in August 1977
(A Content Analysis)', 2003-04 Online Symposium on Elvis Aron Presley
Music Collision - Talent vs. Marketing', 2001
Coming Back from the Dark Age', 2000
Impact of Elvis on the Australian Top 40 Charts' (co-author with
Nigel Patterson), 1998.
note: Dr. Enders passed away in late 2003 after a long battle with
Gary Enders, EIN, November 2003