king. Whatever else Elvis really was, henwas still one of them.n1 queried two young ladies, one 19nand the other 35, about their memoriesnofElvis. The younger, a fan of rock musicnand a regular attendee at rock shows,ndidn’t picture a raucous, wild, hip-shakingnyoung man or even a diamond-studdednwhite-jumpsuited Vegas star. Instead,nshe said that his eating habits,nwhich she had heard about “somewhere”n(funny how such things getnaround), immediately came to mind.nElvis’s dietary regimen—when he wasn’tnstarving himself and eating powerfulnpharmaceuticals in order to fit into hisnraiment—would have made Judy Mazel,nNathan Pritikin et al. gape in horror. Henhad a penchant for eating burned—notncrisp—bacon with a side order of mashednpotatoes and gravy. Nitrates, carbohydrates,nsaturated fats. He didn’t regularlynutilize implements to manipulatensaid eatables. Goldman is quite concernednabout what Elvis ate. Odd, thisnfascination with what dead performersnconsumed and with the type of dinnerwarenthe First Family uses.nLooking at the photos in the Goldmannbiography, the 19-ycar-old suddenlynstopped flipping pages and remarked,n”That’s him!” Her vision of the mannwhose sensuality bowled over countlessnthousands of women? A middle-agednman with greasy Prince Valiant-typenlocks and sideburns that point downntoward his chin, his first chin. The overweightngent has slit-shaped eyes in deep,ndark pockets, eyes that scream for sleep.nHe is wearing a heavily spangled whitenjumpsuit with a plunging V-necklinenthat ends approximately one roll abovenhis navel. Around his neck are threenchains, each carrying a medallion.nClosest to the chins is the Jewish chainsymbol made, with gems, presumablyndiamonds. Next, there’s the Christianncross, a rather large one. And third,nthere’s what appears to be (the photonquality is somewhat grainy) an Eisenhowernsilver dollar. The man is as sexy asnburned bacon and mashed potatoes.n16 inChronicles of CulturenThe second woman, the 35-year-old,nsummed up her reaction to Elvis with anfacial expression: she winced.nThey are not atypical. Nor are thenothers, the ones who buy the ElvisnT-shirts and black-velvet paintings soldnon weekends from abandoned gas-stationnlots, the people who place “ThenKing Lives!” bumper stickers on thenbacks of their cars, the dedicated whonjam the formica and citronella-candledecoratednbars on weekends to see thenElvis impersonators.nElvis has never evoked indifference.nN obody wants a fat Elvis. The imagenis not revolting because it is of a corpulentnman—we see them every day. OrsonnWelles is acceptable, and we are notnrepelled when we see him in a wine commercial.nA hefty Elvis is not acceptablenbecause the American ideal is morenalong the lines of the tough, street-wisenpunk that Elvis was in his twenties.nPresley knew that, so he took drasticnmeasures to reduce prior to performancesnonce his salad days were far behind. Annextraordinary dependence on dmgs wasnthe result. It took a toll on his music, personalnrelationships, ultimately his life.nAll to be semisvelte.nWhen Brando appeared in The Godfather,nthere were no objections to hisnsize—pneumatic by comparison withnthe figure he cut in his leather-jacketnT-shirt phase—because of his fine performance.nWhen Brando did the million-dollarnbit part in Superman he wasnsavaged for being bloated. We want ThenWild One. James Dean had it right.nJust as Renaissance-era painters idealizednthe portraits of their patrons andnleaders, T-shirt manufacturers and posternnnprinters show only a vital and vibrantnElvis on their wares. How accurate A.E.nHousman was in his “To an Athlete DyingnYoung” is probably more apparentntoday than ever before. On a recent tripnto Houston, I saw a billboard for a rocknradio station, which featured a photographnof Jim Morrison. Morrison was thenlead singer of a rock group known as ThenDoors. He has been dead for over 10nyears and is more popular now than ever.nThe T-shirts, posters and buttons withnMorrison’s image on them are like thosenwithElvis’s. They show a hard, leanMorrison,nnot the heavy, bearded man henbecame. Wewant our slender heroes preservednin amber.nL once took a girl whom I was trying tonwin to hear a singer. This was no ordinaryndate—I had a plan. The singer sangnsweet ballads, and I was sure they’d meltnmy Dulcinea’s heart. I’d be ready withnarms waiting. One thing I didn’t countnon was the singer’s appearance. I hadnassumed that he’d, in some way, resemblenme. The vision of his arrival on stagenis etched in my memory: he had thenbuild of a fasting shrimp, and he wore anfuchsia bodystocking. His hair wasnmulticolored. And in his hand—I swearnthis is true—he held a wand with a plasticnstar on its end. He could have dedicatednevery song to my inamorata and me. Inwouldn’t have known. I was cataleptic. Indidn’t win the girl’s heart.nIt’s commonly thought that the successnof male performers—Elvis, in particular—isnbased upon adoring female fansnwho fantasize being with the performer.nBut for every woman wanting Elvis, therenmust be a man imagining himself wearingtheKing’sbluesuedeshoes.nDn