Thursday, 6 February 2014

Top Elvis book number ten
Elvis ’56: In The Beginning by Alfred Wertheimer

A 26-year-old photo-realist employed by RCA to take candid promo shots of their new star, Wertheimer made 3,800 photographs of Elvis over a period of two years. The best of them, collected in this book, comprise an astounding portrait of the artist as young sex star, full of distractingly rich detail. For example, there’s one of Elvis on the Chattanooga choo-choo to Memphis on Independence Day, 1956 in which you find yourself drawn as much by Elvis’ matching ring and watch band as by his intense stare. 

Another, more obvious example, perhaps the best-known of all the photographs, has Elvis backstage with a gorgeous young girl, their tongues touching, half in play, half in lust. It looks so gorgeous, so innocent. You can’t help but find yourself wondering: what happened next? And what did she do with the rest of her life? 

In 2011, in Vanity Fair magazine, we finally found out. The young woman was Barbara Gray, by then a 75-year-old real estate agent with four marriages behind her. At the time the photo was taken, at the Mosque Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, she was 20-year-old Bobbi Owens — her maiden name. According to writer Alanna Nash, she was an ‘unabashed party girl’, a sometime dancer, sometime shoe saleswoman. ‘I was very thin and very stacked,’ she said. The Elvis picture was far from the only colourful moment in the tale she told. Raped at 12, she had her first child at 16. By 17, she was divorced and hustling. ‘I was a pretty loose gal. Then I started waking up to the fact I was a whore.’ 

After a spell nude modelling in Los Angeles, she returned to the south. By the time Elvis met her she was a ‘show-off dancer’ at the Carriage Club in Charleston. That evening was the only time she and Elvis spent together. They didn’t have sex, she said. Later, she dated two of Liberace’s boyfriends, had a fight with Zsa Zsa Gabor, worked for sexy underwear shop, Frederick’s of Hollywood and, in time, turned to God. Eventually, in spring 2011, she contacted Wertheimer, convinced him she was the girl in his pictures and sold him her rights for $2,000, an affidavit confirming her story and a small set of signed books and prints.

Now Buy another best Elvis book, mine. Don't trust me. Listen to the reviews. 'Outstanding.' 'An absolute must.' (And both by people who don't owe me money.)

Then Come back to find the link between Elvis and Bambi

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