Today we celebrate the birthday of Elvis Aaron Presley, a man who chowed down on innumerable peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches, and scandalized America's youth with his below-the-belt dance moves. He also reinvented modern rock 'n' roll in his spare time. In honor of The King, we present this handy guide to becoming an Elvis impersonator. Of course, you certainly don't have to look like Elvis to carry on his legacy -- just ask Schmelvis (Dan Hartal, aka "The Jewish Elvis") or Paul Hyu, Chinese Elvis. All you need is a bit of practice and a whole lot of passion to unlock the hunka hunka burnin' love in you. Work Your Own Background Elvis, obviously, was not Chinese. All that means is a bit of improvisation is in order. "Instead of wearing Elvis jewelery, I wear Chinese iconic jewelery -- Buddhist beads, blessed by the Abbot of the Shaolin Kung-Fu Monastery instead of gold bracelets," says Hyu. Schmelvis concurs; he's had great luck putting a Hebrew spin on The King. "Being a Jewish Elvis impersonator adds spunk to the character -- like a red, white and blue sparkling yarmulke, and perhaps more guilt when eating more than one peanut butter sandwich." Sneer Like a Hound Dog "Start off by yawning, which is a good technique, as it opens up the vocal tract too," Chinese Elvis advises. "I tend to do a Tai-chi inspired vocal warm-up before I go on, which helps my focus and my breathing." Schmelvis simply offers, "If you cannot do it, I know of a good Jewish plastic surgeon on the Upper West Side ... "
Honor the Classics But Feel Free to Experiment "Most people would expect a jumpsuited Elvis to turn up if they are paying good money," explains Chinese Elvis. "Once you have the jumpsuit, you can then branch out into gold lamé, GI, leathers or any other period." That doesn't mean you have to stick to the standards. Many Elvises have had success bucking tradition. "If you want to distinguish your act from the thousands of others out there, you may decide to wear something that is not actually from a real Elvis 'period.'" For instance, there's an environmental-campaigning Elvis called "Green E" and a guy known as "Extreme Elvis" who wears whatever he wants (sometimes just underpants).
Fake Elvises, Real Loving "Women of all ages dig Elvis, but only a certain drunken kind of woman digs an impersonator," Chinese Elvis says. "I do my best at events to be as polite as possible and resist their advances. It is quite easy for me, even if they are persistent, because once I am changed, they do not recognize me and I can slip away, unmolested." Schmelvis doesn't fess up to using the seductive powers of The King, but he does admit the appeal. "Elvis was a magnet for chicks! The suit has comical intrigue, and women love fun and humor."
It's All in the Hips Nothing says "The King" more than the hip swivel. "Some Elvises obsess about this, and the younger you are, the more you should make the effort," says Chinese Elvis. "However, when you hit a certain age you should stop trying so hard. There is nothing that looks more absurd than a middle-aged geezer giving himself a hernia. Elvis himself, as he got older, conserved his moves and energy very efficiently." Schmelvis warns that there are some things you just can't learn: "You either have it, or not." Don't Eat Like Elvis Presley was renowned for pigging out on a variety of eccentric Southern comfort foods, and he had an artery-abusing fondness for bacon. Chinese Elvis warns you not to follow suit. "Otherwise you can't get in the jumpsuit! I once did a gig in Jersey where I forgot this and was slightly confused when everybody got their cameras out and started taking pictures at the same time. It was only at the end of the song that I realized that the zip had burst around my crotch and my Calvin Kleins were on display under my Elvis belt."
Halloween party at the Tangerine Lounge & Nightclub at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino October 31, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller, Getty Images
MEMPHIS, : The Graceliners, an all female group of Elvis impersonators, make an impromptu presentation of one of his songs in front of Graceland in Memphis 14 August two days before thousands of fans are expected to celebrate the 20 years commemoration of Elvis Presley's death. Elvis who is known as "The king of rock and roll" has become a myth and a legend since his death in August 16 of 1977 when he was 42.
Roberto Schmidt, AFP / Getty Images
Mexico City, MEXICO: Miss USA 2007 Rachel Smith poses for photographers during the runway with traditional dresses at the Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, 20 May 2007. She will compete for the title of Miss Universe 2007 during the 56th annual Miss Universe competition in Mexico City, on May 28th, 2007.
Alfredo Estrella, AFP / Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS - FEBRUARY 8: Women dressed as Elvis take part in Mardi Gras festivities February 8, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mardi Gras is the last carnival celebration before the start of the Catholic holiday Lent, which begins February 9 on Ash Wednesday.
Mario Tama, Getty Images
LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 04: Runners Bob Babbitt (C) of California and Christy Hotaling (R) of Nevada, both dressed as Elvis Presley, greet other runners while walking through the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino as they make their way to the starting line for the inaugural running of the New Las Vegas Marathon December 4, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the first time, more than 10,000 people ran a route that included the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Cutting Your Chops Chinese Elvis tells us that new Impersonators should start "somewhere local, where the expectation is low, with a good sound system." (He first worked his act at the Gracelands Palace Chinese restaurant in London.) Schmelvis suggests "old-age homes, because there, no one really cares! Then, when you're ready, I would thrust them hips on friends, karaoke bars, open-mic nights and of course, hospital patients appreciate Elvis acts."
Get a PhD in Elvis Chinese Elvis suggests the books "Careless Love" and "Last Train To Memphis." "Worry less about what Elvis is thinking and more about what your audience is thinking." Schmelvis swears by "That's The Way It Is," a classic Elvis concert film. "Elvis was shy, but in front of the camera or on stage he shined like a four-carat diamond."
Appeasing Insane Elvis Fans "A lot of hardcore 'superfans' have a pretty well defined idea of what an Elvis act should be. But I think it should be less strict," says Chinese Elvis. "In fact some superfans have even gone so far as to say they believe that ethnic Elvis acts are an insult to Elvis!" Regardless, it's important to remember that for many, a man gyrating his pelvis in a skintight jumpsuit is no laughing matter. "Elvis loved his fans and his fans loved him and miss him dearly. You learn this through being at a candlelight vigil," Schmelvis explains. "Real Elvis fans know there is only one Elvis, and the rest are just paying homage to The King."
Respect the Crotch Individual impersonators might disagree on the finer points of Elvishood, but there are some tried-and-true rules of the game. Schmelvis tells us to "Be in shape! Always smell and look good!" And Chinese Elvis gets right to the heart of the matter: "Stuff a rugby sock down your trousers."