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The Man, The Myth -- Renelvis 

OK all you wackos, for the last time, Elvis is not cruising around the country in a pink convertible stopping off at late-night gas stations and restaurants looking for jelly doughnuts. Nor is he hanging out with Jim Morrison somewhere in Europe. Those rumors are simply ridiculous. They're ridiculous because I happen to know that The King is working customer service at a Wal-Mart in Charlotte. Sure, he may be spelling his name a little differently these days, and his appearance has changed somewhat over the years, but "Renelvis," as he now calls himself, is alive and well, and is in fact coming out with a new CD and his own line of designer jumpsuits.

Renelvis emerged in Charlotte during the early 90s, claiming to be just another Elvis Presley impersonator. While he may not look or talk like your typical Memphis bluesman, all one has to do is listen to him belt out "Hound Dog" or watch him swivel his hips, and you'll be convinced that The King is back. Doing his best to maintain the facade, however, Renelvis claims his real name is Rene Escharcha, and that he hails from the Philippines. At an early age he showed an appreciation for music, and by high school was writing music, playing guitar and performing before audiences with his own group. He also earned degrees in philosophy and economics, and taught music at several Philippine schools. He moved to Charlotte in 1978, where he continued to write and perform music, and teach at area high schools and CPCC. But it was in 1989 when Dwight Moody encouraged Renelvis to get serious about his music career that things really started to take off.

Renelvis soon became a favorite at Charlotte-area bars and restaurants, and also caught the attention of local radio stations and newspapers, including Creative Loafing. In 1992, thousands were treated to Renelvis' one-of-a-kind show when he performed at what was then Blockbuster Pavilion, during the first Lollapalooza festival. Over the next decade, Renelvis performed all across the country, from the Carolinas and Texas to California.

Today, Renelvis, a husband and father and WalMart employee, opts to keep his singing career a little more low profile, performing mostly at private parties, weddings and doing singing telegrams. Renelvis' latest CD --- his fourth since his 1993 debut --- are all new originals, dedicated to Elvis the man and the performer. Song titles include "Elvis Still Number One," "Elvis Is Alive," and "Elvis On Terrorism," which contains the poignant line, "I wonder if Elvis were here today, what would he do? I can assure you, he would do something."

As an added bonus to Elvis fans and impersonators everywhere, Renelvis is also coming out with his own line of designer jumpsuit kits. The colorful, rhinestoned sew-on additions (priced at $175) each have their own unique design and names like "Peacock," Tiger," "Dragon," "American Eagle" and "Old Indian." Renelvis says he was inspired to start his own line of jumpsuits after seeing a collection of outfits on display at Graceland.

"They were very elegant," Renelvis said. Playing along with The King's little game, I asked him what it is about Elvis that he loves so much.

"Elvis went from rags to riches," Renelvis said, with unmistakable sincerity and passion. "He is a model of the US spirit --- that if you want to be somebody, you have to work at it." And with that, ladies and gentleman, Renelvis left the building. *

For more information, you can email Renelvis at: Renesper@aol.com

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