They say it’s the moon—the lunar pull—that brings out the slavering beast. Maybe for some. But for me, it’s the ninth planet yanking on my chromosomes, that makes the mad transmutation—lead into gold, god into devil, Elvis into Evils.
The Black Mirror
First there was Planet X—the Unknown. Then it was called Pluto, the god of outermost darkness, not visible to the naked eye, and not detectable with the most powerful telescope. Yet still I saw him. A black ball bearded with icicles. The last rotten fruit still hanging from the cosmic tree. A shrunken head at the farthest reaches of the solar system, dangling on a hank of dirty hair. Eyes sewn shut—lips too. Nonetheless, I smell his noxious breath and hear him call, and I see him looking back at me across the void.
Our Smiling Satanic Helper
Encased in glistening armor glaze, he’s the Mighty Lord of the Dead. With his horns and barbed tail, he’s the ancient stink-rod goat-god. With sword and scepter, he’s minor royalty. With his slippers, mustachios and well-shaped imperial chin-beard, he’s our slick, sleek, aristocratic rakehell. But rest assured: America’s favorite Satan is no baby-eating cosmic molester. He wants no blood-drenched secret altars or all-night Afro-Caribbean drumming. He’s the dapper gentleman in red. Wearing tight boxer shorts and a deep V-neck jersey, he looks more likely to spar a few rounds with a manly pal, or take some exercise with Indian clubs, than to accept human sacrifices from blithering Crowleyites or heavy metal cretinoids. He’s the happy, helper Satan who’s gone commercial and made his fortune. He is everywhere in America’s gilded age. On the labels of Underwood’s Deviled Ham, Red Devil Lye, Devil Head Varnish, and most crucially: proudly shilling for Pluto Water.
We have Ex-lax and Serutan (“nature’s” spelled backward, like a black magic spell.) We have Feenamint (favorite of Elvis—which is “evils” spelled sideways) and Milk of Magnesia. But for sheer over-the-counter underworld occult power, nothing can ever surpass Pluto Water. Though bottled in French Lick, Indiana, (a town with a name both obscene and unpatriotic) Pluto Water is—as the slogan proclaimed—“America’s Laxative.”
Hydrogen 2, Oxygen 1
There’s water on the brain. There’s hard water, white water, high water, holy water and heavy water (with hydrogen isotopes.) The Irish gave us the water of life (uisge beatha – aka whiskey.) There’s stink water (cheap perfume) and sweet water, bilge water, bong water, and water long under the bridge and over the dam. But greatest of all is the water that promises Infernal Intestinal Relief. And Pluto, Lord of the Dead, serves as the fork-tongued spokesman for this life-giving elixir. Long before he had his own planet, much longer before his planetary protectorate was revoked, Pluto was America’s Rex Regularis.
I cry to the spectral orb, so far away it can only be detected by math: the theoretical planet, locus of gravitational perturbation. Such a perfect term: I’m perturbed too. My axis is off kilter, the other bodies around me have weird and inexplicable orbits. The only way to explain it (to explain us: Elvis, Pluto and me) is with arcane formulae. I cry and I use the physics of the perturbed, disturbed, and turbid. Hot gases drive my turbocharger—foul exhaust, carbon monoxide fumes, gut stench and cosmic flatus. Invisible forces in the heavenly aether reveal his presence.
Before the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, and the War on Poverty, America had its War on Irregularity. This grim nationwide conflict was fought (and unlike the other wars, it was won) with the aid of one special infernal ally. Before anthrax, before napalm, Agent Orange, warfarin, mustard gas and paraquat, there was Pluto Water. All-natural, this miracle solution came bubbling from deep inside the earth, carrying dissolved sodium and magnesium sulfates. Its secret ingredient though, was lithium salt, giving Americans relief both from constipation and manic-depression in one easy, tasty swallow.
Blue Suede Shoon
Pluto has always been a ghostly presence, unseen, known merely by his effect on other astral bodies. He ruled in the obscure outermost regions for less than a century, then was cast back into utter darkness. All the other planets started out as gods and stayed that way. Only Pluto, once called Planet X, is called now a mere godling, a so-called planetoid. How wise, how safe, was this overthrow? To the question “Do we dare remove supreme honors from the Lord of the Dead?” the answer seems obvious. Elvis knew and Elvis sang it for all of us with ears to hear.
You can take my body and you can take my bread.
You can lay your bones all across my bed.
You can do anything that you want to do.
But uh uh honey lay offa the King of the Dead.
The Black Throne
Absolutely no one can enter The Inner Sanctum of Elvis without knocking first and being granted permission. Like the Holy of Holies in the great temple of Jerusalem, here only those ritually pure (or who are delivering fresh drugs) can gain admittance. It had begun as an ordinary master bathroom, but after being expanded for Elvis’s wardrobe and dressing area, it has the feel of a royal burial chamber. With thick, deep red carpeting and comfortable armchairs, it is big enough to hold eight devotees, standing or sitting in attendance on the King. It includes a circular shower: seven feet across, tiled in brown, black and white. Inside is a vinyl chair so that Elvis doesn’t need to stand in order to bathe. Backing the twelve-foot-long marble counter, with a purple sink, is a mirror surrounded by oversized light bulbs. At the center of Elvis’s solar system is the great gleaming black toilet: his throne, his seat of contemplation and his command center. With a well-padded seat that inclines slightly backward toward the tank, the over-sized commode hangs low to the floor for easy access. From here, Elvis can watch TV, use the phone or the intercom hook-up mounted next to the toiler paper dispenser.
Cosmic Colonic Colossus
To hell with Elvis the Pelvis. It’s Elvis the Distended Bowel who rules supreme. The bacon and corn bread, the biscuits and gravy, fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches are crammed into the great maw. It all backs up; lying there for days, decaying and hardening into a plaster-like load. Opiates and barbiturates slow down the digestive system. The intestines of Elvis become less active and eventually stop moving his food along to its fated disappearance. Typically an adult male’s colon is about two inches in diameter. During the autopsy, it is found that Elvis’s colon is twice that wide: three and a half inches across in some places and nearly five inches in diameter in other spots. Most of the mega-colon is packed with white, chalk-like matter the consistency of hardened clay. At the King’s core is a tangled mass, like a vein of white coal deep in the earth. Every day more and more organic molecules are packed in tighter, compressed by heat and pressure into a vast snaky deposit of fecal hydrocarbon fuel.
The King’s Pharmaceuticals
Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Luv
He’s vast and inflammable: a three hundred pound effigy sculpted out of man-fat, suet, pure white leaf lard, butter, chicken grease and Crisco. He’s a human inferno about to burst. In “Steamroller Blues,” he declares that he’s a “churnin’ urn of burnin’ funk.” Then he’s a “demolition derby,” not one car but the whole gear-grinding redneck apocalypse, leaving him a “hefty hunk of steaming junk.” Finally he hits his hellfire peak as a “napalm bomb, baby,” dropping like jellied gasoline onto our heads from a helicopter gunship. Even more so, it’s “Burnin’ Love,” a much bigger hit, that gets closest to the inferno of truth. Mostly that tune is built on standard love-is-fever images: rhyming “fire” with “higher and higher” and “the sweet song of a choir.” But with its obsessive chanting chorus (“hunka hunka burnin’ love”) and Elvis’s frantic “my brain is flaming!” it conjures up a victim of spontaneous combustion, or a human sacrifice, the King burnt on the secret altar inside his own head.
“Go on – spell it in reverse. Backward and forward I’m just the same: Droll Anal Lord. Seriously, though, folks, I was plugged up really bad. So I went to the doctor to get some relief and he gave me a high colonic. Here in Vegas that means a cross between a Tom Collins and a Highball. Then I went to the hotel drugstore to buy some Milk of Magnesia to get myself regular. When I open the package back in my room I find out it’s just a pint of gin. The script read ‘Knock it back in one swig and you’ll forget about your problems.’ I called the druggist to complain and he said, ‘You wanted Milk of Amnesia, right?’ So I’m getting desperate and buy some suppositories. But you know, for all the good they do you might as well stick them up your ass. Well you’ve been a great audience tonight. I wanna thank you from the bottom of my pants. But I gotta go. And when say I gotta go, I mean it.”
Hear me now! Hear my song.
Maximum deformo all night long.
I got the itch, the burnin’ sensation,
the midnight twitch and the pelvic gyration.
I got a hunch and I’m going back, all the way back to the Cathedral of the Celluloid Geeks. I’m doing my devotions, all the way round the Stations of the White Trash Cross, singing along with the croaking toad-man’s self-loading prayers. After making Clambake, A Change of Habit, and Charro!, where could the King go but straight to the City of Light? And so, behold: the great lost cinematic atrocity. Just as the never-seen posters proclaim: “Elvis IS the Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Latest Dance Sensation
In Paris, they had the Quasi-modo. In Vegas we’ve got the Total-modo: the full-fledged, flat-out, fire-breathing modo dragon in a white astronaut jumpsuit and an erectile crest of night-black hair. We’ve got the Croaking Gizzard and the Wizard of Bloat. We’ve got our Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Voodoobato and the Pope of Fools, laid out on a platter of crowder peas, corn bread and dixie-fried bacon. Forget the frug. Away with the waltz and the watusi. Electric slide? Let it glide. Funky chicken and mash potato? Elvis consumed them both. Peace be upon polka’s name, but it doesn’t have the same slam-weight as the all night festal freak-out. The minuet and boogaloo are naught and nil when The Human Gargoyle comes roaring out of his jungle room and takes over the dance floor.
The Face of God
Of all the names, why was he called Elvis? When I pull it apart, the secret of the name becomes clear. The Hebrew word “El” means God (or power). “Elohim”—a common term for the God of the Jews—is the plural of El. “Allah” is the closely-related Arabic term. The word “vis” (as in: vision, visor and vis-à-vis) means “face.” A more obscure meaning of vis is power or force, similar to the word vim. To enter the presence of Elvis is “to see God.” So there could be no other name but Elvis. He is the face and force of God. However. almost no one dares to ask ”Which God?” Big Yehuda Yahweh—or His Plutonic Majesty?
Elvis Has Left the Planet
“If I could find a White man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.” Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, famously made this claim. Twenty years later his White man is on the floor in the bathroom of death, blue as Krishna, fat as Buddha, naked except for a pair of gold pajama bottoms around his ankles. He lies in a twisted fetal heap before his gleaming black throne. He’s so discolored that the paramedics summoned to Graceland assume it’s a Black man, not Elvis, who lies dead on the red shag carpeting. His face is rigid and masklike, with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. Having bitten his tongue, either in his death convulsions, or cadaveric spasm, a trickle of dry blood runs down the side of his face. His eyelids can not be closed. The paramedics find no pulse, no breathing, no blood pressure. It takes five men to lift the stretcher that carries Elvis out of to the ambulance.
“When Nature Can’t—Pluto Can”
The slogan repeats itself countless times across this great land. When the American colon fails, then we must go to Planet X, go to the well-dressed specter who offers relief “within an hour.” He may only be a dapper gent in red tights, but he still gets the job done. He may have been banished to the outer rim of the solar system, out beyond the seething gas giants, beyond Neptune and Uranus. But he still burns and earns. Pluto is both Lord of the Dead and God of Wealth. All that filthy lucre—gold, diamonds, oil, silver, natural gas, uranium, coal—is hidden, is packed in the earth, in secret and in darkness. Elvis, decades after he joined Pluto in the Icy Infernal Realm, is still the hardest working dead man in show business, making close to fifty million dollars a year.
The King’s Palindromes
Gnats sip piss tang
Saga lube nebula gas
ESP rococo corpse
Motel iota toilet Om
Yen omen—E money
Dogma: I am God