CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/ERIN SMITH
John Jensen proved a crowd-pleaser singing Elvis tunes to an Alamosa crowd Saturday at a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley.
Elvis act bags $60,000 for valley youth clubs
By ERIN SMITH
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
ALAMOSA - The swagger is there and the curl of the lip.
"Thank you. Thank you very much," the tall man in the black leather suit, black hair, sideburns and sunglasses said to his audience.
Then John Jensen, also known as Elvis, stepped into the spotlight and began to sing. Women in the crowd screamed and some appeared to swoon.
"I'm not a jumpsuit-wearing, karate-kicking Elvis impersonator. I don't lip sync. I sing," he said to those at the banquet table where he performed.
And sing he does. Jensen, 44, sounds and looks very much like Elvis.
Even his height and weight are the same as Presley's at his prime, he said.
Sipping a strawberry daiquiri, Jensen said that Presley wasn't a drinker and that he only took prescription drugs. He is quick to defend his idol, maintaining that Army doctors got Elvis hooked on prescription drugs while he was in the service.
Jensen's Elvis portrayal is rapidly taking him away from his real career, that of a mechanical engineer. A graduate of University of Connecticut's engineering school, Jensen operates his Hail To The King business out of Ohio and said that his Elvis gigs are increasing to the point that he may not be able to continue his engineering career.
On the way to Oakland, Calif., on an engineering project, Jensen was in Alamosa Saturday night for the eighth-annual Masquerade Ball and Charity Auction benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley.
The fundraiser brought in an estimated $60,000, including matching dollars for the clubs. The event attracted 280 people.
Auction items included fine art, desserts, vacation packages and T-shirts. One popular item, an antique cigar store Indian known as the Chalk Indian, brought in $425. The winner of the Indian displays it at his business for a year before donating it back to the club for resale at the next fundraiser.
The wooden statue was donated to the clubs in 2003 by Alamosa resident and antique dealer Diana Steenburg, who also provided an antique oil painting that fetched $1,300 in Saturday's auction.
Although tickets to the salmon and prime rib dinner cost $35 each, Inn of the Rio Grande owner Clancy Spicer donated the meal to the club. On each table - donated by Southwest Banks to encourage high bids at auction - were a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white wine.