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I guess that was pretty easy as that was the first high quality Star Wars costume I had put together. It just all fell in place with Elvis being famous for wearing the white jump suits with studded capes. So through a number of random things I decided one day to put on the Elvis glasses with the trooper suit the next time we were out doing some trooper photos. That photo went up on our local site and it all snowballed from that first photo.
How did you acquire your stormtrooper armor? Did you make it or did you buy it?
I bought this suit off of a local friend but it was actually made by another friend of mine. All the Elvis stuff that has been added over the years is all me.
When did you decide to start going to conventions as Elvis the Trooper and what was the general reaction?
My first real convention ever was Star Wars Celebration 2, and that is all the birth of the ElvisTrooper at cons. As I said, I had taken a photo of me wearing Elvis glasses with the Trooper suit on a few months before this con and since I was meeting up with other people from all across the US and there were going to be hundreds of stormtrooper at this con. I told my friends I would be the trooper with Elvis glasses on and posted that photo up on the board and everyone said, YES that way we can tell you apart. At that con, I did take my helmet off and put the glasses on and started walking the halls. It was then that a few people started stopping me for photos and saying they loved the combination that it really clicked in my head that this was going to be fun and I should add more to it. I never knew it would be this big and last this long.
How did you decide which elements of Elvis and which elements of the stormtrooper to utilize in the costume for Elvis the Trooper?
Funny thing about that is that I added a jeweled up shoulder paldron to the costume at first to start getting a more Elvis feel to the character. At that time a few of the photos from Celebration 2 were being posted online and I had an artist tell me he wanted to draw up his version of the ElvisTrooper complete with cape and bejeweled belt. It was really after I saw his artwork that I knew what direction I need to take with the outfit.
What is one of your favorite reactions from someone seeing Elvis the Trooper for the first time?
I would say there have been a ton of great reactions, but the ones that stick out in my mind are the very first ones from that first con. What really sticks out in my mind is from that same first convention I was waking around in the autograph area and Bill Hootkins “Porkins/Red Six” and Richard LeParmentier “Admiral Motti” both stopped their autograph lines and came out from around their tables to take a photo with me and at that time it was just the Elvis glasses and a full with trooper suit.
How did the Gentle Giant Elvis Trooper project come about?
I met the guys form GG early on at the conventions and they told me they loved the combo and would love to do a bust of me at some point. That was years back and I always thought it was just a lot of talk, but still it was flattering. Well Celebration 4 was on the horizon and they called me up to come down to LA to talk to them about working the booth at C4. They said, let’s do that ElvisTrooper mini bust we talked about year back and put it on display while you work the booth and do announcement for us. I said that is great, but let’s do 2 bust and raffle one off for charity! They loved the idea and I worked with them at Celebration as well as San Diego Comic Con that year.
Can you describe one of your favorite moments as Elvis the Trooper?
It would have to be either those first reactions at my first con but probably my finest moments were working with Gentle Giant at Celebration 4 and helping to raise over $4000 for the American Cancer Society. However I am writing this right before Celebration 5 now and I will be doing lots of fun stuff at this next one too.
You are a member of the 501st Legion. What is your involvement in the club? Do you always dress as Elvis Trooper or have there been any occasions where you will be a regular stormtrooper?
I started out as a regular Stormtrooper and joined the [501st] legion about a year before the ElvisTrooper made his first appearance. TK-4321 at your service. I still do a few events with the club and even wear a helmet when duty calls. The 501st Legion does so much good stuff for the communities they are each in and for the good of Star Wars fandom. Even if it’s just dressing up for a book store event of a parade, bring a smile to a kids face no matter where you are or what the event is, is the best thing in the world. That really the reason I do the ElvisTrooper too but is more about making adults smile and laugh.
What's your favorite Star Wars character and why?
I would say Boba Fett if you asked me that in the late 90s but I am going to have to go with the classic Stormtrooper now as it has just become a part of me for so long now. However my favorite action figure as a kid was the Imperial Snowtrooper, as I thought they just looked so cool in the snow gear.
What's next for you?
Right now as I write this I am about a week away from going to Star Wars Celebration 5 in Orlando and I have lots of stuff planed to do as well as seeing lots of good friends and hanging out with them. The ElvisTrooper will be the master of the ceremony for the dark side commitment ceremonies in the Star Wars Commitment Chapel on Saturday. I’ll be working with DK Books and will MC a Trivia contest along with authors of various well known Star Wars books on Friday. And to end the weekend off, I will be speaking at a collector panel on Star Wars Patches on Sunday with my buddy Tony. And a little bonus fact for you, I have the largest Star Wars Patch collection in the world, well that I know of.
After C5 is Dragon Con where I will not be doing the ElvisTrooper but instead going to relax and hang out with friends! After that I hope to keep doing the ElvisTrooper for years to come as long as the people want to see it. I’d like to make it at least 2 more years to make it my 10th anniversary of doing the character.
A big thanks to Ken the Elvis Trooper for taking the time to share his story with SWBookZone.com. For more information about Ken, visit his website ElvisTrooper.com .
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