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Elvis is a black man

Robert Washington is an Elvis of a different color

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Elvis Aaron Presley, the King, was born Jan. 8, 1935 in East Tupelo, Miss. He came into this world in a two room house his father built, and was the second in a set of twins. His brother, Jesse Garon, was stillborn.

Twenty three years later, Robert Washington was born. Washington was black then, and remains black to this day. On Washington’s 19th birthday, Elvis Presley died on a bathroom floor at Graceland. Fans mourned, and President Jimmy Carter issued a statement. Bobble Tiki can’t remember what it said.

The connection?

Robert Washington is, by far, the best Elvis impersonator Bobble Tiki has ever laid eyes on. His moves bring to mind Presley at his best, and his voice, rich and smooth like Maxwell House Coffee, leaves nothing to be desired. If Bobble Tiki had to choose between watching Washington perform a set of the King’s classics or Elvis himself do it in 1976, he’d choose Elvis (of course), because Bobble Tiki has a taste for the grotesque and unsightly. Musically, though, Washington would be the far superior performer.

Bobble Tiki first came to know of Robert Washington through the 2001 documentary, Almost Elvis. In the film Washington, along with a boatload of other Presley impersonators of all shapes and sizes, competed in the Images of Elvis competition — the world’s largest Elvis impersonator contest — for the title of “World’s Best Elvis Impersonator.” In the year Almost Elvis documented, Washington was runner up, as he’s been many times. Bobble Tiki thought he should have won. Luckily, in 2005 he finally took home the title. He was the first African American to do so. To date, he’s still the only black man to win the distinction.

“I don’t really think about it. I’m not going to let my color prevent me from being the best,” said Washington in an interview with the Weekly Volcano in 2004.

“Just close your eyes and listen.”

2004 was the first time Bobble Tiki saw Robert Washington do his thing live. He performed at the Capitol Theater that year as part of the “Elvis Birthday Bash.” The show was uncanny, and Bobble Tiki’s breath was taken away.

This weekend, Washington returns to Olympia for a show at the Brotherhood Friday and the Elvis Birthday Bash Saturday at the Capitol Theater. Amazingly, tickets are only $4 for the Brotherhood show. Bobble Tiki thinks that’s the steal of the decade, if not the century. Bobble Tiki also knows seating at the Brotherhood is limited, and he better get his Tiki ass there early if he wants to see anything.

Bobble Tiki is not, necessarily, an Elvis fan. In fact, Bobble Tiki’s inclination is to poke fun at the bloated, pill crazed, late ’70s King, rather than give credit to the young, sexy and charismatic rock and roll pioneer. This really has more to do with Bobble Tiki’s tendency to be an asshole than the facts. Objectively speaking, no matter how obese or pathetic Presley grew to be near the end, his contributions and influence on a genre he unleashed are undeniable.

Plus, Bobble Tiki really likes the movie “Clambake.” What can he say?

Given Bobble Tiki’s initial response to Elvis (basically, to make a joke out of him), one wonders how Washington caught Bobble Tiki’s eye in the first place, and why Bobble Tiki decided to choose him as fodder for this week’s column. Since Bobble Tiki’s not wild about the King, why was he so impressed by Washington? Since all Bobble Tiki wants to do is make fun of Elvis, why even bother?

Bobble Tiki may not particularly care for the King, but he’s got a keen eye for talent. Robert Washington has talent. There’s no denying it. Washington owns the stage when he performs, whether he’s in a white one-piece jump suit, or, well, a darker one piece jump suit. His voice is dead-on, and besides, he’s spent a major chunk of his life battling people’s subconscious prejudice against the idea of a black Elvis. For that, Bobble Tiki can stand behind him whole-heartedly. And that’s why Bobble Tiki dedicated this week’s column to him.

“I don’t do it full time, I’ve got a job so I kind of work around that,” said the soft-spoken Washington, back in 2004, from his home in Maine.

“I’m a performer. I take it very seriously. I guess I just really like the music and really like Elvis. It hurts my feelings when I see people make fun of him.”

Robert Washington will be at the Brotherhood Friday and the Capitol Theater Saturday. If you’re smart, so will you.

Amazingly, Bobble Tiki doesn’t really care what you do this week because he doesn’t even know you. Perhaps you thought there was a chance things would change this week? Alas, that’s not the case. Bobble Tiki is just as antisocial this week as he was last week, and every week before that. Bobble Tiki doesn’t see things changing anytime soon. Just check out www.weeklyvolcanospew. com every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and consider giving up the idea of you and Bobble Tiki ever being friends. It’s a long shot, at best.
[Brotherhood Lounge, Friday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m., $4, 119 Capitol Way N., Olympia, 360.352.4153]

[Capitol Theater,
Elvis Birthday Bash featuring the world premiere screening of “How He Should Have Died,” Saturday, Jan. 19, 6 p.m., $10, $25 VIP tickets at, 206 Fifth Ave. S.E., Olympia, 360.754.5378]

Bobble Tiki is going out of his head via e-mail at and

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