After all, the King had the infamous Memphis Mafia, longtime friends who fed his voracious appetites for booze, food, pills and women.Astoria's Peter Lecakes, who has paid homage to Presley professionally for the past 26 years, cocoons himself in an even tighter-knit crew: his family.When it comes time for Lecakes to become Gregg Peters Elvis 2000 - his stage name - the 48-year-old's wife, two sons and mother pile into the family's beat-up, beige 1992 Aerostar van and head out to the latest gig.They are his roadies, his merchandising team and his backing band. "This is a bit of our all-star show you're getting tonight," Lecakes told an adoring crowd during a show earlier this month in Astoria Park. "This is what we do. We eat, drink, sleep Elvis."Lecakes, dressed in his blazing white, $1,200 Concho jumpsuit, channeled the spirit of the King during the 90-minute show. Son James, 21, backed him up on electric guitar as dad swiveled around the stage belting out classics like "Rolling on the River" and "Can't Help Falling in Love." A karaoke machine filled in the drums and bass."Solid Gold!" Lecakes shouted, curling his lip and falling into one of Presley's famous karate-like poses. "Elvis is live tonight and I'm Gregg Peters. ... God Bless you all, ladies and gentleman. And God Bless the king."He called out his 15-year-old son, Peter junior, introducing him as "the youngest member of my troupe, my entourage, my family."As dad prowled the background, the stocky boy sang a few tunes followed with a solo dance routine to the R&B star Usher's "Yeah." Afterward, Peter senior strapped on James' Fender guitar for a rendition of "Are You Lonesome Tonight." Peter's mother - Miss Marie - sang backup. Her warbly soprano voice soared over Lecakes' deep croon as they worked through the chorus and into the verse."The world is a stage and everyone must play a part," they sang.And for Lecakes, that part has been to play the King for a living, three to five nights a week for the past quarter century.Presley died 27 years ago this week. Lecakes, a rabid fan all his life, was a 22-year-old struggling musician working the city nightclub circuit when he got the news. He had played side gigs as an Elvis impersonator, most notably on the "Joe Franklin Show," a legendary variety show that ran for four decades on WOR Channel 9. Lecakes' father, Gregory, handled booking for the program.After Presley died, the management of a Times Square nightclub, having caught Lecakes on WOR, booked him for a three-week stretch. Lecakes stayed for a year and a half, regularly selling out shows paying tribute to his idol. He had found his niche. His father, a showbiz veteran, became his manager. Calling himself "The Colonel" after Presley's manager and mentor, Gregory took the reins of his son's career, commissioning his silver-studded jumpsuits, booking his shows and critiquing his stage routine. After Gregory died about 15 years ago, Peter carried on the family business with his own kin. He estimates that they have performed more than 1,000 shows together throughout the tri-state area."We love it. We love show business," Lecakes said.And while the family also loves center stage, they worship the King.They own a jukebox filled with his greatest hits. They have every one of his 33 films on VHS and DVD, and Lecakes has five Elvis jumpsuits - nearly a $7,000 investment. On holidays, the family eats off plates, forks and knives emblazoned with his image. And at Christmastime, along with the manger, they break out a 3-foot-wide model replica of Graceland, Presley's Memphis mansion. They set it in the window for all the neighbors to see. "I guess you could say we're the King family," Lecakes said.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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