The Candlelight Service started spontaneously after Elvis died. In fact, the Annual Candlelight Service started August 15, 1979 when 25 to 30 loving, devoted fans gathered at the gates of Graceland to remember Elvis, show their love and share their memories. "Elvis Country Fan Club" of Texas were the original driving force behind the growth of the Candlelight Service.
Elvis Presley Enterprises, when they took over the running of Graceland in 1982, realised the enormous worldwide PR benefit from thousands of fans holding candles going up to Elvis' gravesite at midnight on August 15th (originally it started at midnight). Images are beamed all over the world every year and because of devoted Elvis fans Graceland and EPE get all this free publicity. But they have become bigger and bigger control freaks and have just recently issued a decree about a special dress code for standing as the honour guard. For your shock or amusement we repeat their instructions below and our comments :
There is a special dress code for standing as the honor guard. The dress code for standing in the honor guard is as follows:
For the benefit of people from Britain pants are not 'underpants', they are trousers in our language. That then begs the question, since there are no instructions for the type of underwear you are allowed to wear, the colour, the fabric etc, what should fans do? Who knows, perhaps you don't have to wear any underwear at all as it is not listed in the decree. Elvisly Yours suggests you wear sensible underwear; black and sexy if you are a woman just in case you faint in the heat waiting for hours and get taken to the hospital. Men should wear white underwear or preferably none at all, since Elvis did not wear underwear according to Larry Geller, but try not to faint and get taken to the hospital if you dress Elvis style. Remember, if EPE allows you to wear underwear for the Candlelight Service honour guard make sure it is clean. Perhaps EPE will allow a special changing area for your underwear as waiting around for hours in the Memphis heat will make you all hot and sweaty. Elvisly Yours thinks it is best to take extra underwear.
You have to wear a white t-shirt with the flag of your country or state in the middle. Sadly, the instructions are not clear how big the flag should be on the t-shirt. Elvisly Yours recommends standard photo size 8ins x 10ins for the image of your flag. But most t-shirts featuring flags usually have some slogan about the country or state and this will surely not be permitted. A simple solution will be to buy some white paint and paint out the offending slogan. Also, the instructions are not clear whether the flag should just be printed flat or waving in the wind. Elvisly Yours suggests the flag should be printed flat to allow you to follow the additional instructions in the decree regarding captions to be added. Should a US citizen wear the flag of his/her Country or State? Are American fans banned from wearing a t-shirt with the US flag because if they all decided to wear the American flag and not their State EPE's rules about State flags would look kind of stupid. Also, fans could get a good deal at Wall Mart for bulk buying the t-shirt with just the US flag. Elvisly Yours recommends American fans only wear a t-shirt with the American flag, work together and try and buy wholesale.
Then you have to print the name of your fan club above the flag but what if, like 50 million Elvis fans in the world, you don't belong to a fan club? In Britain there are probably over one million Elvis fans yet today no more than a few thousand belong to Elvis fan clubs. Elvisly Yours suggests a solution to this problem, simply write your own name then the word fan club, e.g. the Patsy Andersen Elvis Fan Club. If you don't want to put your own name for fear of reprisals from the Gulag Graceland guards write in Patsy Andersen Elvis Fan Club.
You have to print the name of your Country or State and for American fans this is another important reason for using the US Flag because there is no State with only THREE letters and the only sensible way to comply with the print instructions is to iron on transfer letters. If you come from Mississippi you have to spend a lot more money than simple USA. In fact this EPE rule is discriminating against Elvis fans from States with long names forcing them to spend more money. You could always claim you are from Iowa and save a few dollars but I am sure the clever commandant at Gulag Graceland has worked that out and you will have to bring your driving licence or passport to prove identity.
These caring, thoughtful souls at EPE have nearly thought of everything and their decree states you must wear comfortable shoes. Many people are comfortable in flip flops and Elvisly Yours recommends y'all wear flip flops for the Candlelight Service honour guard. Sadly, the decree does not state the colour of the comfortable shoes so Elvisly Yours recommends pink because Elvis liked pink.
If you followed all these stupid rules you would have to print a one off t-shirt that would cost $hundreds in artwork and screens. The only alternative is to get transfers and I am sure it is not easy to get transfers of flags in many countries or even some states. Of course, most countries don't use the English language and even if transfers exist in say Arab countries, China or India they would not be in English only the native language. This means that fans from many countries would not be allowed to participate in the honour guard.
The Candlelight Service used to be a wonderful, spontaneous experience organised by the fans in their love and appreciation of Elvis. Now it is just licensed and controlled by EPE who have the cheek to tell fans who spend their hard earned money at Graceland what they can wear to honour Elvis. How disgraceful and how patronising. No doubt they are thinking up ways to charge to participate in the Candlelight Service, just like they now charge for the Presidents Lunch and have just increased the price of parking at Graceland to $5.00. Poor Elvis is turning in his grave knowing how his family, friends and fans are being treated by EPE.
Rumour has it that the "Graceland Crosing Mall" after Carol and Lisa are evicted (see last Cyberletter no.29) will become a new EPE interrogation centre where Elvis fans who want to visit Graceland will have to be questioned and checked to see if they are wearing the correct clothing, the correct underwear, can prove their country or State of origin and also prove they are "official" Elvis fans from an "officially" licensed Elvis Presley Fan Club.
P.S. There is no mention about the back of the t-shirt. We would like fans to suggest a suitable slogan or message to be printed on the back of the t-shirt to tell EPE what we think of them. Please use humour and not profanity and send your entries to email@example.com in not more than 20 words. The best slogan will win our new Russian Matrioshka Doll if he/she is from the FREE world and if an American fan wins he/she will get signed copies of "Elvis A King Forever" and "Rare Elvis". The closing date for the competition, named MESSAGE to EPE, is 16th August ‘05.
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)