Graceland TooWednesday, April 06, 2011
One one of our girl-day trips, Leslie and I drove to Holly Springs, Mississippi to visit Graceland Too:
Paul MacLeod is a perpetually caffeinated Elvis fanatic who's taking care of business 24-7-365 at the antebellum home he calls "Graceland Too."
Pound on the door at any hour — seriously, it's OK to arrive at 4 in the morning — and the 67-year-old former auto worker will escort you through his discombobulating, floor-to-ceiling collection of photos, records, figurines, cardboard cutouts, candy wrappers, clocks and other random kitsch featuring the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
"My son was born Elvis Aron Presley, with one A for Aron," he says...
"My ex-wife told me, 'Make up your mind. Either me or the Elvis collection.' So that put an end to that," MacLeod says with a chuckle.
MacLeod says he has owned his home since the mid-1970s, and that he's had 368,000 visitors since he started opening it to strangers since the late 1980s or early 1990s.
MacLeod says that he became an Elvis fan when he was 13, and that he attended 120 Elvis concerts.
In Graceland Too, MacLeod claims to have 35,000 records and 25,000 CDs. He says he has 185,000 square inches of carpet that once was in Graceland. He constantly monitors radio and TV broadcasts and records any mention of his idol, claiming to have 31,000 videotapes and 43,000 audio recordings.
Then there's the scrapbook filled with teensy slivers of paper — 1 million mentions, he says, of the name Elvis Presley.
The ceiling of the TV room is covered with baseball card-size Elvis pictures and visitor comments printed on fluorescent pink, blue and yellow paper. Wrote one man from Pensacola, Fla.: "This Elvis shrine is as close to Heaven as an Elvis fan can get. This is the ULTIMATE."
NY Times has also been there.
It's so hard to put into words what this experience was like. Paul maybe never sleeps. He's fueled by Coke. He talked a hundred miles an hour and spurts out "facts" and "figures" -- like that the Bush twins were escorted there by the Secret Service and offered him millions for certain Elvis records. That Bill Clinton offered him a million dollars for it. That he has a blue record that's worth ten million. That President Obama came by one night after speaking at Oxford and painted one of Paul's Christmas trees black.
And let me say this very plainly: I would not suggest a woman go alone, and there were times when Leslie and I wished we were not the only two women there alone. For various reasons. I think he's a lot of talk and harmless, but still.
Ohmystars. It was equal parts exhilarating, disgusting, hilarious, charming, irritating, scary, awful, and wonderful and something I'm *so* glad we did.
And I'm a pink card-carrying lifetime member of Graceland Too. Oh yes.
Paul giving a tour (on his best behavior) - starts around 2:00 in: