When I was a little, tiny boy, my grandmother used to always say, Heres my Elvis, said Shandor, 28, of Las Vegas, whos bringing his decade-spanning Presley performance to Olympia on Saturday. At the time, he said, he wasnt really sure who Elvis was.
He found out soon enough. He was about 10 when he got his first taste of the King.
My mother bought my father a cologne set, he recalls. There was an Elvis cassette tape in there.
My father didnt care for it, so I took it. I took it for the cologne. I put the tape in. Id never heard anything like it before.
The rest, it seems, is Elvis tribute artist history. Shandor had found a hero.
He was a magnetic personality, Shandor said. He was also mythical to me. He was almost surreal. Like, I cant believe a guy like this existed, with such a different personality and such a cool look and a voice that when you hear him sing, you know exactly whos singing.
Every kid takes on something like Superman, he said. I liked to comb my hair like Elvis. Going through school like that, people teased me. Everybody called me Elvis. It stuck with me.
The resemblance clearly went beyond the hairstyle. Before winning the Ultimate title, Shandor once aroused the ire of Graceland, Presleys former estate that now serves as a museum. Seeing a picture of Shandor on a poster, an estate official emailed promoters to tell them they couldnt use a picture of Presley to advertise a tribute show.
Shandor also has appeared in French Vogue and on the front page of USA Today. And he performs around the world as Elvis in a show that evolves to cover the Kings career from beginning to end.
There are only a couple of us who do every era of Elvis, Shandor said. I try to portray the 50s, the 60s and the 70s as close as I can: the music, the costume, the hairstyle, the stage setup, everything.
Does that mean padding for jumpsuit-era Elvis?
No, said Shandor. Elvis to me never got that heavy, he said. He got a little pudgy.
Shandor just returned from Chile, where he performed before a crowd of 15,000 people in Santiago. He goes overseas 10 or 12 times a year, said his manager, Jamie Goetz.
They love Elvis over there, Shandor said. People couldnt speak any English, but they could sing the Elvis songs.
He credits the singers enduring popularity partly to a longing for the good old days.
People dont want him to be gone, he said. People want to be reminded of a time when they were happy and Elvis Presley was on the radio and they were buying his music.
Its the whole atmosphere of that era. People like to be a part of it over and over again.