I used to have a whole section on my site called Obsession Central, where I would track the progress of whatever obsession had cracked over my head like an avalanche. Because that is what it is like. Now, I have loved Elvis since I was a kid. I grew up watching his dumb movies on our local channels (Channel 56 will forever have a place in my heart because that’s where I saw most of the movies that ended up forming my entire outlook on life and popular entertainment), and, you know, the dude is ubiquitous. Still. Saying you’re “obsessed” with Elvis Presley is like saying you’re “obsessed” with The Beatles. The worldwide reaction is, “Yeah? So? Join the club.”
But there are times when an obsession kicks up into another gear, and I can feel it happening. It sometimes happens in a single moment. A moment when an anchor drops inside of me, I can feel the impact, and I know how my free time will be spent for the foreseeable future: researching the shit out of my obsession and going as deep into it as I can. I have always been this way. Since I was a little kid, I have had these outbreaks of feverish obsession, which I suppose you could call “celebrity crushes”, but it’s always been about more than that for me (and my writing is a testament to that). It’s the work I’m interested in. It’s how they do what they do, and the trajectory of their careers, and their influences and inspirations, etc. Even when I was 11 years old, that was the stuff I wanted to know about, oh, Harrison Ford (go to slide 4) or Ralph Macchio. Of course I wanted to dry-hump them as well, but the urge to dry-hump is one of the strongest most primal impetuses for people who write about art (in my opinion). I love those who can ADMIT that. I know it’s not easy to cop to, to say, “Look, I find so-and-so fascinating because 1. He was very talented and had a great career, 2. He was very influential and a real pioneer, and 3. I want to dry-hump him on a couch.” But it’s honest. Lester Bangs copped to it in his obituary of Elvis. That’s such a huge part of WHY these people become stars, and why we react to them the way we do. To discount that or dismiss that is to miss out on all of the fun.
My love for entertainers and movies and music is a mix of huge crushy-crush feelings, and artistic concerns. It works for me. That’s where I like best to write from.
In terms of the breaking obsessions: I may have even been familiar with whatever person I become interested in, but for whatever reason it hadn’t gone into Obsession level. Dean Stockwell is a great example of that. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been as obsessed with anyone as I was with Dean Stockwell, although he does have some pretty stiff competition. But that obsession came over me like a bolt from a clear blue sky and raged for MONTHS afterwards, I was barely interested in anything that didn’t have to do with Dean Stockwell. A new movie comes out. Is Stockwell in it? No? Oh, okay, I’ll go see it, but I’m already bored by the lack o’ Stockwell!
People who dismiss me because I am honest about the crushy-ness of my interests often misunderstand me. Or they assign motives to what I write (I wrote a post praising Johnny Depp in Public Enemy and someone showed up who obviously disagreed with my assessment of the movie and said, “You just have a crush on Johnny Depp”, which I thought was incredibly rude, not to mention incorrect.) But that’s not my problem. “Falling in love” with a performer is one of the greatest pleasures of my life and I hope I never outgrow it. It has led me down some fascinating paths and byways, and introduced me to a lot of work I never would have encountered without the celebrity crush leading me there.
Elvis Presley has always been there. But for whatever reason, he’s showing up in a new way for me right now. I’ll have more to say about this. “Stuck On You” is my current favorite song of his, on eternal loop on the iPod, and this live clip from the Frank Sinatra welcomes Elvis home show is one of those perfect examples of how electric this guy had to be live. Even in today’s music world where people gyrate when they’re opening a can of soda, when “suggestive” behavior is par for the course, Elvis’ body language still remains distinct and startling. If I had to say why, I would say that it came from within. He moved that way because the music told him to move that way, AND he COULD move that way. I know he was quite shy at first and had stage fright and all of that, but the way he moves his body, and the obvious enjoyment he gets from it is still radical. It is the opposite of cool. It’s hot. It’s engaged. It seems to come from a real drive within him, and that was why girls shrieked when he even just lifted his shoulder. It’s also casual. Watch how he adjusts his cuff links and his jacket sleeve in the beginning of the song. That’s almost the sexiest moment because it’s real, it’s part of a flow. Every moment speaks of an enjoyment in what he is doing, and a pulse of sexual energy that can’t be suppressed. Killer combo.