"Elvis Was A Voyeur."

Illustration for article titled "Elvis Was A Voyeur."

Let's cut the crap and talk exclusively about Elvis' sex life:

Yes, at this point, "[Insert woman living between 1950-1970] slept with Elvis" is pretty much tantamount to "I smoked weed with Alan Ginsburg this one time on the Cape," (be the lady in question Gael Greene, Cybill Shepherd or Barbra Streisand) but let's talk turkey: if you're weary, feeling small, and leery of a new decade, there are few sweeter trash-chariots to convey you into 2010 than the un-put-downabble Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him. (And yes, "love" is used loosely.)

Here's how Janet Maslin, in the Times describes it:

[Elvis scholar Alanna] Nash acknowledges that she initially wrote a women-oriented article for Ladies' Home Journal and then decided to expand it. Thus armed with what she all too aptly calls "an oral history of some of the women in Elvis's life," Ms. Nash began padding her story with three kinds of material: her own legitimate interviews (some with women still pining for Elvis 50 years after their fateful encounters), secondhand gossip (from self-serving memoirs and fan publications) and psychobabble. Cobbled together, these elements led her along Presley's long, winding trail from babes to baby sitters as his life spiraled into sad decline.


Because here's the thing about Elvis: just when you think he can't get any larger-than-life, any odder, any freakier, any more decline-of-the-culture-writ-large and any more baffling to Americans and non-Americans, he does! And this book has it all, as one would imagine: the beauty, the grotesquerie, the cast of colorful users, colonels and Memphis Mafiosos. And, oh yes, the sex. To hear the author's theory, Elvis was both fueled by the loss of his twin at birth (the need to find the missing piece, you see), an obsession with his mother (and yes, he did have a definite physical type), and a need to play Pygmalion and father to very young girls, whom he delighted in making over. A late-blooming "Mama's boy," young Elvis was a flop with girls and super-religious. Later, his qualms about pre-marital sex were assuaged, and he developed a reputation as a ladies' man, boasting hundreds of one-night stands with small-town girls and Hollywood stars. Some say he made them feel special, others that he was a lousy lover. Nash, meanwhile, states that he was just a bundle of hang-ups, who because of a fear of STDs wouldn't actually go "inside" women, never undressed, and was more into watching elaborate tableaux, often involving feet.

Whatever and whoever one believes - and in this book, you can take your choices and then choose your theories - it's clear the Elvis obsession is going strong. And why not? He's the anti-Jackie O; we've got such a wealth of eccentricities and rumors and quotations that the temptation is in the bounty rather than its converse. Think an all-you-can-eat buffet of fattening southern steamplates, rich with lard and margarine and marshmallows. Is the point to gain insight into Elvis, as a means of gaining insight into ourselves? Hardly - it's all about the collision of "art" and nature, and both are such perfect creations that nothing we say or decide can approach the reality. Yes, at times it's just too, too much. And you'll want to put it down and not feel especially good afterwards, and think about all the worthy books you could have been reading. But none of those will leave you so completely sure that you probably could have spent a night with Elvis, if you wanted - or so glad you never got the chance.

Love Me Plenty, Presley Pleads [NY Times]
Related: Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley And The Women Who Loved Him

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I don't get the Elvis thing. I don't care for his looks or his music. Love the Beatles' music, but I never thought any of them were much to look at. Maybe I just can't see past the silly hairstyles. Maybe you just had to be there.

Paul Newman, on the other hand—now there is a heartthrob whose appeal is independent of period clothing, hairstyles, etc. Dayum. (Of course I have a crush on the old-school heartthrob who was NOT a notorious ladies' man, meaning I would've had no chance with him…)