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The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents the Sai Antonio Ititurkan Bookfair iftz Liter-wry Irestilvtaki South Banquet Hall, Convention Center at HernisFair Plaza itott s101 October 3,t 5:00 po. iNeoa ?ottiatotos14.3 s: 7:30 p.o. presentation aos sectary tatac t.%As Sodykyt%el. 060 0 IOW 7…361 kr Am Pre “ov. Fri Na om i essiik_dikv oft, 0 preset ” Rid oi .. h on_ tali, .t “cir3ihd ab id irs: e c. ,tan 0,3o040 udre’e V s c Tile estibeir $ U Free realtings VY: ciatetto Oos, Watt gat 10cos Ostse03, lino Osioseus, trsoa t.e60% al:30 pin. prsentations: SoseOect VotO Vkasatio V ere Sunday afternoon -free presentations for children and teem. Dozens of free readings, panels, and workshops all weekend. For ticket & TENTH ANNUAL BOOKS & THE CULTURE fingernails painted jet black. He carries a towel for those hyper-sweat moments that leave him drenched and the audience, on a good night, aching for more. Gauging the crowd, El Vez sits down on the stairs leading down from the stage into the audience. Assuming an intimate, story-telling posture, he introduces the next tune with an anecdote, recounted in the cheesy Mexican accent. “When I was a leetle Elvis impersonator back in Monterrey, I was thees big. But with my hair, I was thees big,” he jokes. The audience responds warmly. The act is vintage Robert Lopez. Lopez is a hybrid product of the 1980s Los Angeles punk underground, a fertile time both for performance art and Chicano rock. And “El Vez”Lopez’ alter egois a stylized, glamrock incarnation of both the former and the latter. Using a deft combination of camp, humor, an admirable voice and rock solid musicians, El Vez has become a cult iconwhile deftly acknowledging in his act the very real and pressing issues he sees confronting Latinos in the U.S. fter one more of many costume changes, El Vez returns with what he likes to call the “El Vez Disco Medley”: “Heartbreak Hotel” becomes “Quetzalcoatl,” and “In the Ghetto” becomes “En el Barrio.” These are followed by “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Chihuahua” and even a twisted version of the macarena. For sheer pomp and spectacle, the show rivals a musical ice capade. El Vez wears velcro pants and several shirts in metallic lame. A quick flick of the hand and his pants are on the floor. Voila!another pair underneath and a new color to match the next shirt. The climax comes during El Vez’ sexy strip number, executed behind a cloth scrim held up by the Elvettes, who have added depth and harmony throughout with back-up vocals and stage presence to spare. On the white sheet held up before the drum kit is the unforgettable portrait of Che Guevara. Through the scrim El Vez, in silhouette, performs a tease, finally reappearing in skin-tight leggings color-coded green, white and red. The Mexican eagle, a serpent in its beak and perched on cactus, is printed visibly on his pants, just over the crotch. Launching into a parody-cummarch, El Vez calls up the Old South of the Memphis Elvisbut with a comic difference. Strains of “Oh, I wish I were in the land of cotton…” drift in over the speakers. The Elvettes are suddenly operatic, with “Glory, glory hallelujah!” “Since Elvis was from the South and he did this song, I’m going to perform my own version because I’m from the South too way south, south of the border. But since I live in Los Angeles, it’s called “Look Away, Look Away, East L.A.” As he marches across the stage, El Vez waves patriotically yet another Mexican flag from side to side. For an encorewhich the crowd enthusiastically demandsEl Vez returns with a political take on the Bachman Turner Overdrive anthem, “Takin’ Care of Business.” The band has donned red t-shirts bearing a black, Che-like mug of El Vez himself. Above the portrait, the shirts exhort, “CHE IT OUT LOUD.” In this version, the BTO rocker has become a celebratory reminder that immigrants don’t come into this country to take somebody else’s jobs. By and large, they do the work that no one else is willing to do. “Takin’ care of business everyday! Takin’ care of business, orale!” As the crowd heads for the lobby, I ask an Hispanic member of the audience what he thought of the show. “It wasn’t what I expected, but it was good. Different. I mean I’m a real Elvis fan. But I liked it,” he concludes. Others, non-Latinos, haven’t waited around for the encore. They numbered perhaps no more than ten, and appeared to be Winter Texans or local retirees, complete with Bermuda shorts and those ubiquitous Hawaiian print shirts. If they were looking for yet another version of the “real Elvis,” they left disappointed. But the real El Vez is in the lobby, signing autographs and selling CDs \(the newest commemorative stamps, locks of hair, the enterprise is prptty exhaustive. The small crowd gathered near the merchandise table seems honestly sold, on something they hadn’t expected to see. Austinite Abel Salas recently ended an exile on the border to work in Houston for the band La Mafia. OCTOBER 11, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29