For the past year, a Seattle-based fine artist known as JoDavid has been slowly transforming his 2001 VW camper van into the Elvis Mobile, a traveling homage to the King complete with a giant mural of Elvis painted on the side and a mini-museum in the trunk.
JoDavid told AOL News that the Elvis Mobile -- which, so far, has only traveled around the Seattle area a few times -- began as a labor of love for his wife, Marlow Harris, an avid Elvis fan and occasional Priscilla Presley impersonator.
He said he "took the joke too far" and immediately got to work turning his set of wheels into a mobile Elvis shrine that, in his words, looks like an edgy, mysterious "traveling gypsy caravan."
Since then, he has spent a significant amount of time improving and tweaking the Elvis Mobile, from the exterior to the interior.
The ongoing rock 'n' roll-themed project, he noted, requires tapping into some serious creativity.
JoDavid said the exterior, for example, isn't exactly what it appears to be. Instead of painting directly onto the van, he devised an alternative method for decorating the outside.
"I didn't want to commit to painting my van directly, so I decided to paint the Elvis design onto these big magnet panels and then stick those on the van. This way, I can turn it into the Elvis Mobile instantly and remove the magnets when we just want to have a regular van again. It can be undressed in 20 minutes and put back into place like a puzzle whenever we want."
The 10 to 12 colorful magnet panels have been removed from the van for now for protection from the harsh winter, JoDavid said. While the panels are off, he's been adding more glitz, glamour and kitsch to their overall design -- presumably just the way Elvis would like it.
"I'm painting metallic letters on the side and touching up Elvis' jumpsuit by gluing some actual rhinestones to it. I'm bejeweling the entire van so it sparkles in the sunlight," he said.
Meanwhile, his wife is handling the continuous upkeep of the small Elvis museum in the trunk, which boasts all kinds of funny, albeit cheesy, Elvis memorabilia, including trinkets from Graceland such as Elvis shaving cream, Elvis soap and an Elvis Chia Pet.
"It's like a kitschy shrine to Elvis. Fans donate little things to our museum all the time. We have a bunch of sweaty scarves given to us by Elvis impersonators," Harris told AOL News.
She said other items on display include what is thought to be a lock of Elvis' hair, a vile of his sweat and a "single sequin from one of his jumpsuits," which Harris admitted may be more "gag gifts" than verified, authentic Elvis memorabilia.
Regardless, she said visitors love checking out the silly artifacts, especially the highlight: a singing/talking animatronic Elvis bust that sits square in the middle of the museum.
"The animatronic Elvis lures everyone in. They think it's creepy, but at the same time they want to take a photo with it," added JoDavid. "The van is also rigged with lights, a sound system that blasts Elvis music and old View-Master projectors that play a 3-D tour of Graceland while you're browsing. It's a multimedia experience."
Harris said she'll continue to add Elvis memorabilia to the spread as she sees fit, so by the time summer rolls around there should be new stuff for visitors to gawk at.
Although the Elvis Mobile is still brand new and hasn't had much time on the road, the couple said it's already a hit with devoted Elvis groupies.
JoDavid said people went crazy for it in June when they debuted the art car at the Fremont Fair. One King-loving couple even asked to be married near the mobile "chapel of love," with the animatronic Elvis as a witness to their spontaneous nuptials.
JoDavid admitted he was taken aback by the odd request but happily obliged to the best of his ability.
Luckily, his professional clown friend, Extremo the Clown, happened to be at the Fremont Fair that day and is an ordained minister. JoDavid said Extremo agreed to marry the couple in front of the Elvis Mobile in what became the first and only wedding held at the van.
"We've had many requests for weddings since, so we'll see if it happens again this summer,"said JoDavid said with a laugh.
He said he's trying to convince his wife to get ordained so she can officiate impromptu weddings at the Elvis shrine while dressed in her Priscilla Presley costume.
Harris, however, confirmed she's a little hesitant to take the plunge down that career path.
Wedding bells or not, the couple said the Elvis Mobile will be in full force driving around Seattle soon.
Their plan is to cruise around to Elvis-related events and fairs in the area this summer, but JoDavid said he had planned to give locals a little sneak peak of the new and improved Elvis Mobile on March 5.
That day marked the 51st anniversary of Elvis' honorable discharge from the Army, and JoDavid said they planned to celebrate the special date by taking the van out for a little spin.
No matter where the open road takes the Elvis Mobile, JoDavid said his wife and teenage sons will be comfortable as can be riding in the kooky car.
Despite all of the add-ons, he said the Elvis Mobile still comfortably seats seven people -- not counting the singing Elvis head in the back.
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