EL VEZ with THE MILLWINDERS at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Saturday (December 8), doors 8:30 pm. $18.50-$20. HS, RT, SS, TM. See listing.
It's obvious that not everybody living on this big, multicultural continent celebrates Christmas, and even those who do might not always identify with the snowy-white, hetero-normative, nuclear family version depicted in the season's songs, movies and images.
For those tired of Bing, there's El Vez, the funny, sexy and ingenious alter ego of Robert Lopez, a Seattle-based musician whose band the Zeros were part of the Los Angeles punk scene in the 70s.
On the most basic level, El Vez is a gay Mexican-American Elvis impersonator. However, an El Vez concert is more than just a guy with a pencil-thin mustache singing Love Me Tender. There are costume changes, backing singers and songs that integrate the King, carols, politics and pop music.
"I stopped worrying if the audience will get my references many years ago," Lopez says. "There are so many references throughout the show that if they don't get one, there is another seconds away. The personal is the political. My story is relevant to me, but maybe you'll still get it or at least understand it. If I make one person laugh, that's good enough for me - even if that one person is myself."
Lopez also tours during presidential campaigns and performs at Seattle's Teatro ZinZanni, though it's when he gets the Memphis Mariachis together and dons his Santa costume that this season really does become the most wonderful time of the year.
"I like that [seeing my Christmas show] has become a tradition to folks. Perhaps I'm a neo-traditionalist," he adds. "It's been a little spotty for a few years now," he says of the once-frequent tours that now only happen every few years, "but people still look forward to it. They plan way ahead to get their photo taken with Santa Vez.
"I bring Christmas spirit to the audience, and a wide range of emotions not always associated with Xmas, too. I remind the audience of others who aren't having it so good at Christmastime. Christmas doesn't have to be a ‘white' one."