A big hunk o’ sordid details about Elvis Presley’s many women.
The third Elvis-themed book by Nash (The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley, 2004, etc.) depicts an enormously magnetic persona who frequently wielded his power as a sex symbol. The author includes seemingly every woman who fell into his orbit, from his wife, Priscilla, to one-night stands, to more long-term paramours like Ann-Margret. Though Nash draws heavily from the available literature, both major biographies and life-with-the-King tell-alls, she also conducted numerous interviews with the strippers, fans, co-stars and (especially) beauty queens with whom he consorted. In the process, she digs up surprisingly intimate details about Presley’s sexual proclivities, and makes it clear that as Don Juans go, Elvis was exceedingly insecure. Early in his career he gravitated toward underage women—14-year-olds seemed to be his preferred make-out partners—and his attraction to the Priscilla Beaulieu while in the Army reflects an instinct to seduce women he could easily control. Though he later preferred more mature girlfriends, he never found a way to be completely comfortable with them. He showered them with gifts and jewelry, flew them to Vegas or Graceland and shared his increasingly esoteric religious ideas with them, but rarely seemed to care deeply about them. Further, his prescription-pill addiction destroyed both his libido and his conscience. Nash makes much of Elvis’ close relationship with his mother and the fact that Elvis was an “untwinned twin”—his twin brother was stillborn—and she occasionally tethers a critical relationship to subconscious efforts to reconcile those lost connections. But such pop-psychology ruminations add only the thinnest veneer of gravitas to an overstuffed, flatly written catalogue of bedroom tales and laments about how Presley shipwrecked himself. Tellingly, Nash’s most intense investigative efforts are dedicated to whether Priscilla was a virgin before she met Elvis.
Punishingly lurid, illuminating little about Elvis and less about the seemingly interchangeable women who fell for him.