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Feature Article - by Shannon

Wow! Last month we experienced the Superbowl of ETA competitions. Images of the King 2003. This year’s competition lasted from August 11 – 16. This competition is a highlight of events held during Elvis week each year in Memphis. Many of you had the pleasure of attending this great event. We were entertained and taken back in time to enjoy the many faces of Elvis.

The finals are held the last two days of the competition. The talent was endless. 24 ETAs bringing their best. The songs ranged from the rare Frankfurt Special to the all too familiar Hurt. The costumes were outstanding. We saw everything from the rock-a-billy 50’s era to the ‘68 comeback black leather and some awesome jumpsuits!

Robert Washington, was awarded the title of grand champion. He is a long time regular of the show and did not disappoint this year. He gave an amazing performance that had the crowd on their feet! Second place went to David Lee of Birmingham, Alabama. Third place went to Williams Styles. Other notable performances were Daniel Ray, who performed in his red jumpsuit from his wheelchair. He showed us to never give up on your dreams. One of the youngest singers to ever make it into the finals was Kavan. He portrays the 50’s Elvis making all the girls swoon! Gino Monopoli gave us a high energy performace that actually took us back to Elvis’s 68’ comeback special. Another contestant that impressed us was Jesse Aron, with his remarkable voice! If you missed him, you missed a real treat!

When you attend this event you truly understand that it takes a lot of hard work to pull this off! This doesn’t just happen. Images of the King is directed by Jackie Franklin. She and her husband , who everyone knows as ‘Doc’, work hard all year to provide Memphis with a first class event. After the contest was over I had the opportunity to ask her a couple of questions. Here is what she had to say!

1. How long have you been doing this contest and why did you start it?
We started the competition in 1987 as a promotion for our nightclub, Bad Bob's - Vapors.

2. What is yours and Doc's relationship to Elvis? ( He seemed to know alot about the King)
Doc was the veterinarian who took care of Elvis' animals: dogs, horses, monkey, etc. Although I never met Elvis, I am slightly related: my 3rd cousin is married to Elvis' 1st cousin!

3. What is the most challenging thing about putting together this event?
Taking the risk that people will show up - contestants and audience. There is a lot of competition out there for Elvis week events, and we try to make ours fun and entertaining enough that people will want to come!

4. What is the most fun/rewarding thing?
Undoubtedly, renewing old friendships each year. The event has become like a family reunion. We have met so many wonderful people through the years.

5. You had a long list of judges. How do you select your judges?
This is one thing we would like to change. Right now, we rely on people (Elvis Impersonator fans) who volunteer as judges. I would like to be able to secure more professionals: It's just hard to get someone to commit to such a long program! Actually, this year we only had 7 judges.

6. What responsibilities will the winner have to fill during his reign as "World Champion"?
There are no responsibilites, per se, but we do ask that the winner represent us and all the other fans, in a respectful and dignified manner. Also, traditionally the winner will return and perform shows during the following year. We also try to stay in touch and refer jobs to them as much as possible.

7. Now the big question.... What do you and Doc once the contest is over?
We go back to work! Doc retired from the vet clinic last September, but is very busy overseeing 3 mini-storage facilities with U-Haul franchises, 2 coin-op car washes, commercial land development, and cell tower construction and leasing. See www.FranklinDevelopment.com. I am beginning a political race for County Supervisor. See www.jackiefranklin.com.

Wow Jackie! You sure are busy. Good luck with the political race!

Well, enjoy the pictures! We enjoyed the trip and we'll see you all next year!

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