SANTA FE SPRINGS, CA. The sultry air danced with the sweet scent of warm churros and the rank, vaporous scent of cold spilt beer rising slowly as it heated upon the surface of the asphalt. Mix in a little sweat and perfume from the crowd and an opening for a crime noir novel is set. Of course it wasn’t the scene of a retro Hollywood crime, but the scene for the inaugural Elvis Extravanganza 2012 (EE2012).
Eddie Stephens’ production debut was a success and a failure. EE2012 started off the night before with a pre-party at the Royal Lounge in Placentia with Stephens’ 80s cover band, the Deloreans Band. My musician friends said they were great and played with top notch equipment. I agree. They totally rocked all the gnarly hits of the 80s while all of us wang chunged the night away. So far, so good. The talent and fun times overlapped into the next day at the swap meet.
The show kicked off with Travis Allen performing the early years with the Doc Rock It band followed by Chris Luna rockin’ the concert years with the TCB Flash band. Rounding out the talent were the indomitable, beautiful Darlene “Darling” Perez as Priscilla Presley, and the Mexican Spitfire of Burlesque, Ruby Champagne. It was the best of both eras and not a show you’d expect at a swap meet venue. It only cost a $1 to get in and parking was free, but I would have paid performing arts theater prices to see EE2012.
Weaving my way in and out through the crowd, with camera in hand, I could see the people sharing their love with the performers. The miserable humidity, and sloshing beer from semi-sober fans trying to sway in sync with the music, did nothing to deter the fans from a nostalgic good time. Everyone, young and old alike, loudly shared their love for the King of Rock & Roll with cheers, applause, and sing-a-longs. Allen and Luna reciprocated with tossing teddy bears out to the audience and handing out silky scarves to the girls pressing against the stage with raised hands.
The pre-party, followed by the inaugural EE2012, and the talented performances of the ETAs and bands were a tremendous success. Failure came from the slack beer sales prompting one of the venue’s bosses to say, “Elvis is dead.” The slack beer sales were due to small Saturday crowds when peak crowds are on Friday and Sundays. It seemed to be an unfair evaluation, but money speaks louder than the joyous cheers of Elvis fans; therefore, EE2012 was a successful failure.
Let’s hope the first EE2012 was also not its finale and another venue will open its gates to Eddie Stephens and EE2013. (I think I have an idea that might help it to be more financially successful.)
It is my favored opinion, and the favored opinion of other Elvis fans, the show was a tremendous success. Stephens should be proud of his production debut success.