The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Friday, August 22, 2014


"Graceland Too" Attracts Offbeat Tourism in Mississippi
In this Dec. 9, 2009 photograph, "Graceland Too," the Elvis Presley themed home of Paul MacLeod in Holly Springs, Miss., is undergoing remodeling to look more like the current Graceland. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis.

By: Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press Writer

HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS (AP).- Paul MacLeod is a perpetually caffeinated Elvis fanatic who's taking care of business 24-7-365 at the antebellum home he calls "Graceland Too".

Pound on the door at any hour — seriously, it's OK to arrive at 4 in the morning — and the 67-year-old former auto worker will escort you through his discombobulating, floor-to-ceiling collection of photos, records, figurines, cardboard cutouts, candy wrappers, clocks and other random kitsch featuring the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

"I'd give my life right now if I could bring this guy back," MacLeod says in his auctioneer's staccato, his gray hair slicked back in a '50s style.

MacLeod says he rarely leaves Graceland Too, sleeps only sporadically and is fueled by 24 cans of Coca-Cola a day — a claim at least partially verified by the aluminum pull-top tabs he collects in sandwich bags and the stacks of flattened red cardboard boxes on the back porch.

Graceland Too is in Holly Springs, a northern Mississippi town of 8,000. It's a convenient stop for fans on an Elvis pilgrimage, sitting about halfway between Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Miss., and the King's final home and resting place, the unaffiliated Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tenn.

Until Graceland Too became a magnet for offbeat tourism, Holly Springs was best known for its traditional — and tastefully kept — white-columned antebellum homes.

"He's our number one attraction," says Suzann Williams, assistant director of the local tourism bureau.

She says that people call daily wanting information about Graceland Too, and that the Japanese and the British are the largest groups of overseas visitors. MacLeod doesn't have a telephone, but the tourism folks take him notes to let him know visitors are coming.

MacLeod is so obsessed that 36 years ago, he named his only son after the man he considers the world's greatest entertainer and humanitarian.

"My son was born Elvis Aron Presley, with one A for Aron," he says, noting the spelling Presley used for years. "I didn't put the other A to his name until Vernon Presley put it on his son's grave."

Floors creak beneath visitors' feet as they walk through the 157-year-old home warmed by space heaters that sit perilously close to raggedy shag carpet and stacks of papers and magazines.

For $5, visitors get to experience sensory overload, harshly lit by unshaded bulbs.

Doorways are decorated with several Elvis-patterned curtains in '70s-era hues of turquoise and lime. There are photocopies of a newspaper with MacLeod's all-time favorite headline: "Elvis Presley Excites Girls, Scares Critics."

A poster-sized display in the entryway declares — sans punctuation — "The Universes Galaxys Planets Worlds Ultimate Elvis Fans."

"My ex-wife told me, 'Make up your mind. Either me or the Elvis collection.' So that put an end to that," MacLeod says with a chuckle.

MacLeod says he has owned his home since the mid-1970s, and that he's had 368,000 visitors since he started opening it to strangers since the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Heaven help the fact-checker who'd have to verify the statistics he tosses out during his tours, which typically last an hour and a half.

Fans say the random, nonstop flow of information is part of the campy appeal.

Garreth Blackwell, a 27-year-old journalism teacher at the nearby University of Mississippi, said he has been to Graceland Too a half-dozen times and recently took his wife and three friends for a nighttime tour.

"It's kind of hard to talk about this guy, because you come enough you hear the same things over and over again," Blackwell says. "It kind of puts that in your mind, 'Well, maybe this is all true.' You don't ever know. But it doesn't matter because it's a good time."

MacLeod says that he became an Elvis fan when he was 13, and that he attended 120 Elvis concerts.

In Graceland Too, MacLeod claims to have 35,000 records and 25,000 CDs. He says he has 185,000 square inches of carpet that once was in Graceland. He constantly monitors radio and TV broadcasts and records any mention of his idol, claiming to have 31,000 videotapes and 43,000 audio recordings.

Then there's the scrapbook filled with teensy slivers of paper — 1 million mentions, he says, of the name Elvis Presley.

"There's my burial suit up here to come back and haunt my ex-wife," MacLeod says, pointing to a gold number in one of the front rooms.

Robert Lopez of Los Angeles, who has performed 21 years as El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, says he has toured Graceland Too at least a dozen times and is attracted to its folk-art oddness. He once donated one of his stage outfits to MacLeod's collection — a maroon crushed-velvet jumpsuit with a cape featuring a sequined Virgin of Guadalupe.

He says Elvis MacLeod is a walking encyclopedia about Elvis Presley who helped his father give tours for several years, but was a calmer presence: "The son would translate in a slower monotone: 'What my father said was ...,'" Lopez recalls.

The younger MacLeod moved to New York in the 1990s, and a phone listing for him could not be found.

Lopez also cautions that Graceland Too "might be a slight warning about what too much love can do."

The ceiling of the TV room is covered with baseball card-size Elvis pictures and visitor comments printed on fluorescent pink, blue and yellow paper. Wrote one man from Pensacola, Fla.: "This Elvis shrine is as close to Heaven as an Elvis fan can get. This is the ULTIMATE."



Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.


Graceland Too | Paul MacLeod | Elvis Presley | Holly Springs | Suzann Williams |


Today's News

December 31, 2009

Degas Painting Stolen From the Cantini Museum in Southeast France

Berlin Art Projects Presents Megan Olson "Beyond the Chains of Illusion"

Unique Opportunities to Learn About Calder and Michelangelo

Los Angeles Art Show Returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center

Mother Teresa, Gene Autry, Katharine Hepburn on Upcoming US Stamps

Art Gallery of New South Wales Exhibition Focuses on Six Photographers

MoMA to Present Global Lens 2010, the Seventh Annual Touring Exhibition

Thriller, Muppets Among 25 in United States Film Registry

Winners of Global Design Competition Visit the Guggenheim

"Graceland Too" Attracts Offbeat Tourism in Mississippi

Joslyn Begins 2010 with Exhibition of Contemporary Artworks

Columbia Museum of Art to Present Collection of African-American Art

Artist Priest Bill Moore Finds God in Abstract Expressionism

Scholarship & Junior Member Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club

Iconic Photographs Coming to the Toledo Museum of Art

"Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney" to Open at the Delaware Art Museum

Texas Influenced Collection Demonstrates a Global Connection

Biennale and Other Cultural Institutions in Vancouver to Welcome Olympic Games Visitors

Exhibition of Key Projects Illustrate Richard MacCormac's Work

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Mystery over massive Alexander the Great-era tomb unearthed in northern Greece

2.- An ancient money box containing a large rare hoard of coins found in Israel

3.- Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

4.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces three new contemporary exhibitions in fall

5.- New Aspen Art Museum designed by architect Shigeru Ban opens to the public

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art launches 82nd & Fifth app in 12 languages

7.- MoMA online-only publication features new research on Pablo Picasso and Cubism

8.- Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

9.- Tate Britain welcomes home John Everett Millais's Ophelia and Rossetti’s The Beloved

10.- Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site