Impersonator James Kruk performing an Elvis classic
"I never dress as Elvis in my ‘real’ life,” says James “King” Kruk, a former English teacher who’s carved out a living by reenacting the King’s comeback era, 1968 to 1974, complete with meticulously re-created costumes and choreography. In addition to headline performances, he’s also become a regular on the nationwide competition circuit.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
Promised Land CD by Elvis was recorded at Stax in Memphis. I love “I Got a Feelin’ in My Body.” Its lyrics are religious but the song most certainly is not. I love the extended version, as you can hear Elvis cutting it up between takes. One time, he says about his dear friend and harmony singer Charlie Hodge, “It’s like having a wino singing in your ear.” Elvis was very funny. I also love the Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver tune “You Asked Me To.” Elvis adds a special element of heartbreak to this one, and the beat kicks, for a country tune.
WHAT ABOUT NON-ELVIS CDS?
I love Oh, No! It’s Devo, because they’re geniuses, not just as musicians but as creative people. They rock very hard on this album, with a lot of heavy guitar, not as synth-heavy as later albums. One of the newer bands I love is the Kings of Leon. Their Youth and Young Manhood CD restored my faith that rock and roll was still very much alive. Then they got polished up by the record label and lost their edge.
ANYTHING YOU WERE EMBARRASSED TO MENTION?
"The Best Day Ever"
From Spongebob Squarepants
If I exclude the Disney-fabricated stuff my kids torture me with on long car rides, probably Jimmy Sturr polka tunes.
I must also admit that I love a Spongebob Squarepants tune called “The Best Day Ever.” It just makes me happy.
BEST ELVIS CONCERT ALBUM?
Elvis Live in Las Vegas is simply the greatest damn CD ever, 24 tracks and only two schmaltzy ones. Please, everyone, listen to “Just Pretend” and you’ll hear why Elvis is King!
ARE ELVIS COMPETITIONS EVER “RIGGED,” LIKE WRESTLING?
There was a private contest in Mesquite, Nevada. This was the worst contest ever; the contest organizers were all in cahoots with a few of the contestants. The company that produced the contest also produces shows starring the same guys who won the contest! This happens quite a bit in the Elvis world, sadly...a 70-year-old Elvis placed ahead of me. He was from Mesquite, the dinky town the contest was in. One of the judges was the MC’s wife from the same area the contest organizers were. I pieced this all together via Facebook.
DO ELVIS IMPERSONATORS HAVE GROUPIES?
I did all right in my day, but when you’re dressed as Elvis, it don’t take much. The King is a powerful aphrodisiac. I sang to my wife and that got her!
EVER WANTED TO KILL SOMEONE?
Probably when I found out the managers of an apartment building we were living in knew something was happening to one of my kids and didn’t even tell us. Then they tried to get all this money from us, claiming we never gave notice before we moved. I still have a lot of anger about it.
BEST AND WORST BAND NAMES?
Best, Nashville Pussy. Worst, Toto.
David Lindley and El Rayo X in New York City at the old Lone Star. It was five bucks, and you could be about six inches from the band. There were maybe 25 people there, and Dave just ripped everything — pedal steel, guitar, sitar, oud, and several other instruments only known to remote regions of the world. It was his humor, his band, his polyester — it just blew my mind how he plays, and he does every time I see him, which is anytime I can.
TOP WEBSITE BOOKMARK?
Nymets.com. I grew up in New York, where me and my dad loved the Mets, and I will ’til I die!
ANY FEARS OR PHOBIAS?
I don’t really like crowds, believe it or not, unless they’re my audience. I worry about my kids all the time.
SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I love Bugs Bunny.