Illustration by Gerry DeSeve
lvis and velvet go together like God and the Sistine Chapel. Elvis in his most perfect form exists on black velvet. The swinging pelvis and sinister sneer of our Elvis clock preside over the Velvet editorial offices like a religious icon. He stands beside us, he guides us, he tells us what time it is. Needless to say, we require little impetus to pay homage to the King. So when Michele Legge pitched a piece to commemorate the 18th anniversary of his death this month, a resounding "that might be okay" erupted from just about the whole staff. Michele asked members of Prague's international community for their reminiscences of the King's passing, and to our surprise several of them actually had some.
"I came down to the kitchen in the morning. My mom had the radio on, as always, and she was crying. I asked her why, and she said it was because Elvis had died. Around that time I'd been eating a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and she snapped, 'He died of eating too many peanut butter and banana sandwiches.' I stopped eating them for 14 years." -Greg, 23, record label executive, Canadian
"I turned nine on that very date. I was walking home with my grandmother for my birthday tea and she told me that he had died. I didn't believe it until I saw it on TY that night, and I thought: 'Excellent. Two famous people have died on my birthday. Bella Lugosi and now Elvis."' -Dominic, 27, journalist, English
"We were making crystal radio sets in physics class. The first thing that came on was the death of Elvis. Everyone was silent for ten minutes, then the class ended. Maybe it was the fact that we got the radios to work, and maybe it was the fact that Elvis had died."
-Tom, 27, journalist, English
"I remember thinking 'Well damn, I guess I'll just have to get into KISS then, man!"' - Eric, 27, vocalist for Slash's Snakepit and Jellyfish, American
"On Czech radio, all we heard was, 'An American star who changed the world has died.' We had no idea who it was. In 1985, a British rock band came to Prague, and asked people, 'Do you know that Elvis is dead?' The answer was 'no' all around. They smuggled in a videotape of Elvis' funeral, which was played in lots of rock clubs here illegally. But even now I'd say only 90 percent of the population knows that Elvis is dead." -Karel, 39, businessman, Czech
"I found out he died from this guy who worked for my parents. He was a real loudmouth, and he called out to me: 'Hey, Elvis Parsley died. He was found on the shitter."' -Kerry, 28, economist, Australian
"I think I heard some official radio announcement. My parents turned up the volume. It said something about a drug overdose, and that was it. Everything from the West was considered bad at that time, especially Elvis." -Martina, 24, student, Czech
"He's still alive. He works for the CIA. My brother told me he was dead, died from drugs, but I've seen a photo of him, coming out of a hospital with his friend Mohammed Ali, years after he was supposedly buried." -David, 28, promoter, Tanzanian
This month's FIRST contributors are Omri Ben-Amos, Michelle Legge, Michael Wayne Jr., David Freeling, Radha Burgess and Anne Renahan.