RIVERSIDE, CA. I am not an ETA. I’m a fan who has been to dozens of contests, witnessed hundreds of ETAs perform, and become friends with many of the entertainers. Traveling from one venue to another and schmoozing about has allowed me to observe what audiences and judges are looking for in an ETA contestant. It might be obvious. Nevertheless, I’ll point out the obvious beginning with a gallery of pictures and ask who do you see? (Click on photo to enlarge it.)
A Perfect Illusion
Hopefully you saw Elvis in each photo, or at least an illusion of the King, and that’s my point. The fans and judges are looking for an illusion of Elvis in the ETA. Many fans who had the privilege to see Elvis live in concert want to be taken back and relive the moment. The rest of us who were too young, like me, or missed the opportunity to see him, want to experience what it might have been like to see Elvis perform. We want a perfect illusion so we can experience Elvis.
The judges are looking for more than just an illusion. They want authenticity. The fans do too, but on a lesser scale. Judges are looking for the unique mannerisms, moves, and voice of Elvis and want an authentic performance from the ETA. Every ETA contest winner I’ve seen had a perfect illusion of Elvis and was as authentic to him as possible.
In my opinion, in order to win an ETA contest the contestant must be able to provide a perfect illusion of Elvis to draw in the audience and capture the attention of the judges. Then, to keep the attention and enhance the illusion, the entertainer must be as authentic to Elvis as possible.
There is much more involved in the business of being Elvis, but these two are the biggies. Good luck.