By Jean-Marc Gargiulo

(Attended seven shows between August 12 and August 25)
Published in the book “Behind the Image” vol.2

Being in touch with Colonel Parker’s office since March 1965, when I founded the TREAT ME NICE fan club, I knew early in 1969 that Elvis was returning to the stage that summer. I HAD to be there! In early August, a bus took us from Paris to Belgium where we took a plane to America. I arrived in New York with three friends. We took a Greyhound bus across the USA, with a stop in Memphis. We stopped to take a look at Graceland. After five days we finally made it to Las Vegas on August 11th 1969. After two hours of walking from the downtown bus station, we finally stood in front of the International Hotel at midnight.

The next morning, I called Mr.Tom Diskin, who met us at the coffee shop in the hotel. I explained to him how it goes in France for Elvis and the club. I gave him pictures and a poster of a big meeting held in Versailles, the previous month (July). Of course my main question was when are we going to meet Elvis? To that, he says, “I’ll see what I can do.” That same night, we had reservations for both the dinner and midnight shows. Arriving at the door of the showroom, the Colonel greets us with “Hey Frenchy, did you get my message?” I said “we didn’t,” and he told us “at the end of the show wait for me at the your table.” Strangely I don’t have many memories of this first show. It was too much, too good, too fast and too everything. But when it was over, Col. Parker came and asked us to follow him. Quickly we arrived at the door where we were introduced to Elvis. He was seated but stood to greet us, as the Colonel explained who we were. It was just about 10.15 p.m. and Elvis had just changed clothes. Smiling, we shook hands.

690812__3He seemed interested in the fact we came from Paris. He said, “I visited your beautiful city three times.” He also said “Bonsoir (good evening). That’s all I remember of French.” he said repeating that word several times. He asked us several questions, including  “Is this your first show? did you like it?  Are you coming back? Am i still popular in France?” Of course “yes” is the answer to all of those questions. He was even thoughtful enough to ask “Do you have enough money?” I asked when he was going to tour and perform in Europe, especially France. “In the next six months,” he replied.

We couldn’t take our eyes off him as he was much more beautiful than in his pictures. Then the Colonel said “Hey Elvis, look at what they brought for you, the versailles stuff.” Elvis took it and commented, “It’s great, just great, can I keep it?” I can’t believe Elvis asked me if he could keep our gifts. Next we asked if he can move on stage the way he did in the 50’s. He laughed and started moving his legs. We took some pictures and then he sat down and signed some autographs. After about 15 minutes had passed, I then made one of the best decisions of my life. I knew that any second the Colonel will ask us to leave, so before he does, I told Elvis that we knew he had another show to do, and that it was time for us to leave. This time we said “Bonsoir!” Once out of his room, we looked at each other like it was all just a dream. 


Jean-Marc stepping on Elvis’ “blue suede shoes” … oops!

Then several days later, in the afternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m, Elvis came out in a corner of the lobby hotel, just from the kitchen doors. By luck I was walking in the hotel when I spotted him, I rushed and posted myself, like a glue, to his body (he smelled good!) where I stayed 15 minutes watching the people coming to shake his hand or get a kiss. When I saw my friend ready to take a picture, I was so excited that i stepped on his “blue suede shoes” smashing his foot the moment the photo was taken…”sorry Elvis!”

This time he was in the middle of the lobby and the crowd was so big, that had to call Colonel Parker to maintain some order. Then his bodyguards took Elvis pushing him into the elevator, Elvis still talking with us as he walked along. I heard Red West say “This is the last time” ….and it was the last time he came out the hotel. It was just too dangerous for him.