For you, the dress code is casual.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

An Introduction to Tagish Elvis

Tagish Elvis's Table
Originally uploaded by scribecalledsteff.
The year is 1994. Steff is 21 and has just moved to the Yukon for an "experience".

* * *

Shortly after this table was painted, the artist legally changed his name from “Gil Nelles” to “Elvis Aaron Presley.”

I found this table used in a secondhand shop in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

I’d moved there a month before and it was my first time ever living alone. I needed furniture, but I’ve always had a pretty quirky sense of humour: While I like nice things, if I can’t have it nice, then I’ll have it funny.

My choices were this for $25 or a ‘70s fake wood table with big knobby staircase-type spindles on it and gaudy fake brass handles for $45. I can justify the extra $20 for taste, but this thing was garish, man.

So I opted for the local item I could keep as a souvenir -- the Sponge Table.

I never thought much of it after I’d purchased it...

* * *

...until three months later, when my first Northern friend came by to hang. Lisa about fell over when she saw the table. She wouldn’t tell me why, just that the artist was coming to see her about some tourist items for her to sell later in the week, and she would “introduce” me.

* * *

Flashforward to later that week. Tagish Elvis, now legally known as Elvis Aaron Presley and formerly known as Gil Nelles, is on his knees before me, belting out “Love Me Tender” in the middle of our mall. People all around are staring at me in my lab jacket as he croons, "...for my darlin', I love you, and I always will."

Gil tells me he's thrilled I’ve happened onto a table of his, because they’re “valuable limited-edition” works of his stunning art. I don’t have the heart to tell Gil I’d paid $25.

Now, when I say dude looked like Elvis, I ain’t kidding. Adorned in a cream-colored Elvis jumpsuit sans sequins, it was evident that the boy’d gone native: all Native Indian beadwork with eagles and shit all over the suit.

When GayBoy visited me up there and saw Tagish Elvis playing bingo as he chowed down on garlic prawns, GayBoy thought he’d been transported to Vegas.

You need to know that GayBoy dreams of having slippers just Dorothy’s: He’ll click ‘em three times, droning, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home...” he'll open his eyes, and there he’ll be -- at Celine Dion’s Vegas extravaganza.

(Repressed Married Man is standing there in his wifebeater, fondling his left breast as he stares across at me. I was just fine until the left tit came into the picture. He just squeezed it! The blinds are down now. Gah!)

* * *

How Gil became Elvis is a fascinating, hilarious, and tragic story involving attempted murder, an alien abduction, chemical off-gassing, and a multimillion dollar lawsuit.

I wanted you to hear about the table first, because the Birth of Tagish Elvis is the trump tale--it’s fucking awesome. I should charge you admission, I swear to God.

I’ll post that story tomorrow. Tagish Elvis is a story you need to hear. And I fucking love that I knew this dude. What an amazingly weird chapter of my life.

Stay tuned. I'd feel better about hyping it if I'd written it already, but the content is primo, so that's got me confident.