Happy Elvis Week, everyone! In honor of this most sacred of Midsouth holidays, I’d like to formally inaugurate a category of Elvis fandom heretofore under recognized by the local press. I would like to call this category “Deep Elvis” and have it signify all the Elvis attractions that lifelong Memphians know about, and that aren’t on the general tourist roster.
A good example of Deep Elvis would be (RIP) Graceland, Too. A better example would be The Blue Suede Lounge on Elvis Presley Blvd, where I once spent a solitary night drinking whiskey-cokes while I waited to pick up some friends from New Jersey who’d decided to go to the candlelight vigil, and where the bartender showed me his extensive collection of Bob Marley posters by the light of a disco ball. Deep Elvis is your Mom’s stories about scaling the fence at Graceland when she was a child. Deep Elvis is knowing where Elvis’s honeymoon house is without knowing how you know (it is in Palm Springs.) It is personal and ineffable and as beautiful as any Elvis sweatrag bought off eBay for a mint.
The best example of Deep Elvis that I can think of is Ron and Lew Elliott’s motorcycle shop, SuperCycle, located at Bellevue and Harbert. Ron and Lew were commissioned to build a three-wheeled motorcycle for Elvis. They gave it to him, eerily, exactly one year before the King died. They keep a full-scale replica of the bike in their in-shop Museum, which also hosts leather-wearing fashion mannequins, a bunch of overgrown plants, wooden tiki sculptures old magazines and postcards and plaques and brochures, and, of course, tons of custom bikes from the brothers’ long custom automotive careers.
I accidentally met Ron and Lew not because of their shop, but because their house—which is located next to SuperCycle—is really weird. If you have ever been down the far leg of Harbert in Annesdale, you will notice that there are a bunch of typical, four-square build white or grey homes. And then there is a totally asynchronous A-Framed wooden, gargantuan lodge. It is one of those places that screams “no floor plan.” My friend and I knocked on the door and asked some questions, because sometimes you must.
Ron and Lew were nice enough to give us a tour of their three-story, self-renovated home. It is amazing. Highlights include: Jacuzzi tubs on the second and third floor; an in-home elevator; a scuba-themed room; a complete party room with a full bar and stage for bands, pool table, arcade games, and thousands of photos of their thousands of friends; a third floor replica of their mother’s 1930s dining room; a darkroom for developing “photos you can’t send the the developer” (?!); a birdcage actually built into the wall that no longer holds live birds because “the rats got them.” Not to mention the sculpture garden in the back or the hand-built, laser-lit inside waterfall. Ron, Lew, their wives and some renters live quietly in the home now, but it had some 1980s glory days, when the brothers hosted something called the “Beautiful People Parties.”
Deep Elvis is giving a nod to these truly fabulous Memphians and their gregarious home and shop/museum. Give SuperCycle a visit. Your Elvis will grow strong and bountiful.
Images in slide show are by Brett Hanover