something private about elvis presley the man

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 minutes.

FORTY-TWO IS TODAY’S NUMBER. Forty-two years ago, Elvis Presley died at the age of 42. There will be fit­ting trib­utes to his mu­sical and cul­tural legacy all over the in­ternet, all around the planet, all through the weekend. Lawdy Miss Clawdy, but there should be lots of his music being played every­where you go. So I thought I would offer some­thing non-musical, some­thing quiet, some­thing more pri­vate about Elvis Presley the man — not Elvis Presley the recording and movie star.

In 1985, I lived in an apart­ment com­plex in Scotts­dale, Ari­zona. My next-door neigh­bors were Fred and Scotty, a quietly-open gay couple. Scotty’s ca­reer had in­cluded stints in the radio busi­ness from which he had as­sem­bled an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of Broadway-related orig­inal cast LP al­bums. He had also been in the hotel busi­ness, moving around the country to work on dif­ferent properties.

Fred and Scotty and Jen­nifer and I (names have been changed for the usual rea­sons, even my ex’s) be­came friends and we spent many nights at their place en­joying the varied ways one can enjoy spaghetti and a gallon of cheap red wine while watching movies on VHS tape. When Scotty found out that I was a big Elvis fan, he told me that he had his own Elvis story:


Elvis BlueHawaii poster onesheet 1000

This is the full-size (27 x 41 inches) one-sheet poster for Blue Hawaii from 1961.

Sandy didn’t care for Elvis

In 1961, Scotty was working at a swanky hotel in Hawaii when Presley was there filming Blue Hawaii. Scotty did not like rock & roll, so meeting Elvis wasn’t on the top of his to-do list. Nonethe­less, Scotty met Elvis twice.

The first time, Elvis had been out all day working; he was di­sheveled, stinky with sweat, curt, and in a hurry to get to his room. Need­less to say, Scotty was not im­pressed with the young singer and it more or less con­firmed his dis­taste for rock & roll in gen­eral and Elvis Presley in par­tic­ular. He made this known to his circle of gay friends.

A few days later, Scotty bumped into Elvis in com­pletely dif­ferent cir­cum­stances and had a com­pletely dif­ferent ex­pe­ri­ence: Presley was done with the day’s shooting and he had fresh­ened up for the evening. When he met Scotty with sev­eral of his friends, Elvis looked like a model on vacation.

Elvis was his usual po­lite self and talked with the men. He was warm, friendly, and easily en­gaged. Scotty had met many movie and recording stars over the years, but he said that Elvis was per­haps the most gen­uine and charis­matic person that he had ever met.

Scotty also said that he was rather sur­prised at how at ease and playful Elvis was with gays, which was a rather rare trait in straight people in those days. Since Pres­ley’s death, count­less state­ments have been at­trib­uted to him that make him sound ho­mo­phobic, racist, misog­y­nist, anti-Semitic, and more.

For­tu­nately, there are still people alive who are more than willing to share their Elvis story and it’s al­most al­ways a story about a nice, po­lite, self-effacing guy who did well in the en­ter­tain­ment business.


Elvis BlueHawaii publicity photo 1500

FEA­TURED IMAGE: This photo of Elvis and a bevy of beau­ties was shot for a va­riety of pro­mo­tional pur­poses for the movie Blue Hawaii. It ended up being used as the part of the main posters de­signed for the movie’s 1961-1962 re­lease. Prop­erly dropped, it would have made a much live­lier front cover photo for the sound­track album.

For those cu­rious about where Elvis, a man raised in the ultra-conservative South of the 1940s and ’50s, de­vel­oped such an easy way with gay men, I rec­om­mend “Elvis Presley: Was He Bi­sexual?” on the Film Star Facts website.

Fi­nally, when I moved from the desert of the Phoenix-Scottsdale area to the damper sur­rounding of the Pa­cific North­west in 1986, I kept in touch with Fred and Scotty for many years. But we drifted apart (my fault) and I haven’t heard from them in ages. Should ei­ther of you guys read this—and you know who you are—contact me be­cause I’m a grandpa!




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