All shook up on the Elvis train to Parkes

From Sydney to Parkes 2019: All aboard the Elvis Express


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If you ever wondered what it would be like to ride a train packed with Elvises, this is it.

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As the train chugs from Sydney to the rural town of Parkes, Elvis tribute artist Stuey V is crooning that he "always lived a very quiet life".

One can only assume it was before he owned the shimmering 1950s-style gold lamé jacket he's sporting.

It's 2018 and we're aboard the Blue Suede Express bound for the Parkes Elvis Festival. If you ever wondered what it would be like to ride a train packed with Elvises, this is it.

In one carriage, Stuey V is wowing fans, wannabes and lookalikes with a hit from the `68 Comeback Special, the TV appearance that revived the king of rock n roll's career 50 years ago.

He shakes a man's hand before planting a kiss on his wife's cheek, then sits on the lap of another woman and shakes.

"Were you shy?" I ask. "No", she replies.

Things get racier as Stuey V jumps onto the train seat, one leg planted in each aisle and a woman reaches up to touch his buttocks.

"I want to kiss every lady in this carriage," the Gold Coast crooner declares.

He is true to his word. For, like a river flows surely to the sea, there is no room for shyness in the world of an Elvis impersonator.

John Collins - in stereo! Photo: AAP

John Collins - in stereo! Photo: AAP

Further down, red jumpsuit-clad impersonator John Collins, from Berry, NSW, welcomes travellers to the first performance in the dining carriage.

"Some of you will be pleased to know you're all virgins again," he says, to squeals.

The train ride is a taste of what's to come at Parkes, as Elvis tribute artists move from carriage to carriage, singing his hits to commuters, who are showing nothing but sweet devotion.

More than 25,000 revellers are expected to pack the outback Aussie town, 365km west of Sydney, for the quirky annual event, which coincides with Presley's January 8 birthday.

But don't forget the money, honey - over the past three years, authorities say the event has boosted local coffers to the tune of $28 million.

Elvis impersonator Kingsley Rock.

Elvis impersonator Kingsley Rock.

Collins does his best to pump up the revellers, but this bunch don't need much prodding.

"Where y'all from?" he asks one group of passengers, in a southern drawl.

"It's a singles group, we all met on Tinder," responds one of the more senior members of the Elvis commute.

"AA," jokes another.

With that, Collins jumps into the song Little Sister and they're on their feet bopping and kicking their legs in the air in quasi-Elvis karate era style.

But when the music stops and a recording of the phrase "Elvis has left the building," is played, just as it was at the end of the king's concerts to disperse hopeful fans waiting for an encore, this lively mob is not happy.

 Elvis impersonator Alfred Vaz's outfit.

Elvis impersonator Alfred Vaz's outfit.

"Bor-ing," sings one woman.

The biggest cheers of all are reserved for the same serious pelvic gyrations that shocked conservative America when Elvis burst onto the scene in the 1950s.

Brody Finlay does it well. Fresh faced and in his early 20s, he is the youngest impersonator on board getting these commuters all shook up.

Tall, handsome and lanky, like the young king himself, he shakes like a leaf on a tree as he dances down the train aisle, stealing three kisses as he goes.

"Cheeky bugger," a woman laughs to her friend.

Waiting, waiting, waiting ... Photo: AAP

Waiting, waiting, waiting ... Photo: AAP

Clad in a bright candy pink jacket, white open neck shirt and black pants, he twirls around a woman and implores her to lay off his blue suede shoes.

Her spirits lifted higher like the sweet song of a choir, she duly obeys.

The young Sydney crooner then gets the crowd jumping to Viva Las Vegas, as he shuffles in white lace-up shoes around the cramped carriage.

It was everything and more for hip-swivelling Scotsman Ross Cummins, who liked it so much he returned for the ride in 2019, this time in a custom-made tartan suit.

"Elvis's ancestors are from Scotland like me, so I thought it was best fitting that I do a tartan suit. Scottish Elvis #Scelvis," he muses.

Australian Associated Press

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