As well as being the world capital of magic, Vegas is also the ultimate destination for one other set of showbiz wannabes, of which Paul Casey is one.
As his onstage act ends, I watch him look up from his guitar, run his fingers through his jet-black slicked-back hair and raise one side of his mouth to a position that hovers somewhere between a smile and a sneer. “Thankyouverymuch,” he grins as the last notes of See See Rider fade away and the crowd leaps to its feet in applause, whooping and hollering for more.
Yes, Casey is an Elvis impersonator, but in Vegas, where Presley tribute acts are a dime a dozen, he’s the King of Kings. A two-time ‘city entertainer of the year’, Casey is the official Elvis Ambassador of the Vegas tourist board and his ‘Elvis The Musical American Trilogy Show’ is packed to the rafters whenever he can squeeze in appearances back in his home town. It’s a lavish production with 42 songs, 16 costume changes and the official stamp of approval of members of Presley’s own Memphis Mafia.
Vegas is a mind-boggling city where bigger, better and brasher is everything, but longevity is not one of its strong points. When something serves its purpose, or rather, when it stops making money, it simply gets ripped down and something else is built in its place.
So what will Casey do when the inevitable passage of time means it’s time for someone to steal his crown? “I don’t know how long I can go on for,” he says, “But I do know that Elvis has been good to me. I’ve been lucky. I’ve worked with his estate, I’ve recorded in his house, I’ve done lots of movies but, above all, my singing of Elvis Presley material enabled me to go through all my schooling. I went to college and graduated with four degrees, the last one being law. When the day comes, I’ll probably go into entertainment law.”