KNOXVILLE, Ill. (AP) – Jackie Wagher has a man cave. Better yet, call it a fan cave.
The man’s name is Elvis. As in, Elvis Presley. And Wagher is one of the King’s biggest fans.
“Actually, it didn’t start out this way,” Wagher said as she stood on the top steps that lead to the basement of her home –where you can find everything from Elvis dinnerware to a lamp that features a statue of a Jailhouse Rock-era Elvis singing and executing his patented hip swing.
“I’m a hairstylist,” the 58-year-old Wagher explained. “And I have my studio in my basement. It’s the home of Jackie’s Hair Care. And a few years ago I decided it was going to be the home for some of my Elvis memorabilia.”
Karen Fields started having her hair done in Wagher’s basement roughly three years ago. She watched as her stylist – and, over time, friend – converted the basement into a kind of shrine to Elvis.
Just before Elvis’ birthday on Jan. 8, Fields reached out to The Register-Mail to tell the story of Wagher’s fan cave.
“What I liked about it is Jackie’s basement, which is her salon, is tastefully done,” Fields said. “It’s not crammed with all kinds of stuff. I think Jackie has brought some of her favorite pieces and displayed them in way that they can be seen and enjoyed. It’s like a museum. not some kind of storage space.”
Presley was born Jan. 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, and relocated to Memphis with his family when he was 13 years old. His music career began there in 1954, after he recorded a song with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
Presley was a rockabilly kid, influenced by everything from blues and early rock ‘n’ roll to gospel and the emerging American pop music.
The history books say RCA Victor acquired Presley’s contract in a deal arranged by the now-infamous Colonel Tom Parker, who managed the singer for more than two decades. Presley’s first RCA single, Heartbreak Hotel, was released in January 1956 and became a No. 1 hit.
Wagher’s mother, June Graham, loved Elvis and played the 45s loud enough to be heard throughout the house.
“I remember my mom and I dancing to him in the kitchen,” Wagher said. “Elvis was handsome and he had such a voice. Elvis was the first man I loved. I remember Elvis was the man I wanted to marry.”
By the age of 15, Wagher started collecting Elvis keepsakes.
“I loved his movies – they used to show them on TV when I was little,” Wagher said. “I always wanted to watch Elvis movies.”
A poster for her favorite Elvis film, Spinout, can be found hanging above the stairs that lead to her studio/fan cave.
Spinout was made in 1966 and stars the King as – what else – the lead singer of a band. Of course, the singer just also happens to be a part-time race car driver and the object of desire for at least four of the female characters.
Wagher tried to explain why she decided to surround salon customers with Elvis license plates and whiskey decanters and Barbie-doll likenesses and a pristine pair of white tennis shoes.
“I’m not an obsessive collector,” Wagher said. “I’m very picky – I don’t have to have one of every Elvis thing ever made.”
Wagher paused and surveyed her collection.
“I have things that speak to me. Elvis memorabilia that makes me smile. I like to come down here for work and be surrounded by something that makes me smile,” she said.
“And Elvis has always made me smile.”
By TOM LOEWY, The (Galesburg) Register-Mail
Source: The (Galesburg) Register-Mail, http://bit.ly/2B626Vv
Information from: The Register-Mail, http://www.register-mail.com
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