Your how-to guide to surviving in an Elvis jumpsuit

BURNING LOVE FOR ELVIS FESTIVAL: Parkes man Al "Alvis" Gersbach is the town's unofficial Elvis ambassador and has been wearing these jumpsuits for 15 years. Photo: Christine Little
BURNING LOVE FOR ELVIS FESTIVAL: Parkes man Al "Alvis" Gersbach is the town's unofficial Elvis ambassador and has been wearing these jumpsuits for 15 years. Photo: Christine Little

With more than 25,000 people who descend on Parkes for the Elvis Festival every year, many of these rock-and-rolling, hip-swivelling fans are usually dressed in a star-studded jumpsuit complete with a big hair wig.

It's hard to contemplate why someone would even consider wearing a full-body jumpsuit with a wig in the middle of summer in central NSW - an area that has 40-plus degree heat.

So we've turned to who we'd like to call the experts, who have mastered over many years the best way to beat the heat while walking to the Elvis beat in a jumpsuit and the best way care for it.

Parkes man Al Gersbach is the town's unofficial Elvis ambassador known as "Alvis", who without question will hop into his Elvis jumpsuit, dye his hair black, whenever he is needed or called upon.

It's all in the name of the Parkes Elvis Festival and its year-round promotion, and ask the man himself, he'll tell you he loves every minute of it.

"They needed someone to dress-up regularly so I did," Al said, explaining how it all started for him.

"I love it, I love meeting the people, I love the social side.

"There are people who you get to know over the years, who come back to the festival and they recognise you.

"And it's doing something for the community - that's part of it as well."

Al has been dressing as Elvis for 15 years and now owns four jumpsuits. He also has what he calls an "after show" outfit for nights, which includes trousers, a puffy sleeve shirt and a leather vest.

So how does he survive the heat in that jumpsuit?

"Lots and lots of water," he said

"I usually stay in the suit all day, depending on what I'm up to.

"I stay away from the air conditioners and stay outside because when you go inside too much, your body is going from massive heat to massive cooling quickly."

And the quality of the jumpsuit plays a huge role too.

Al doesn't just find his suits from anywhere - that's the trick of the trade - he purchases his jumpsuits from America. They stretch and breathe better, and they're cooler.

A-HA: Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM has been dressing in his Elvis jumpsuit for 12 years. Photo: Christine Little

A-HA: Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM has been dressing in his Elvis jumpsuit for 12 years. Photo: Christine Little

It's almost become a requirement for the mayor of the town to dress as Elvis during the Elvis Festival.

Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM has been doing this for 12 years and originally had a red jumpsuit. He now wears a nice, light blue suit.

His predecessor, the late Robert Wilson did too and wore a white jumpsuit.

"I had the red one so it was different to Robert's," Cr Keith said.

"The best thing I ever did was buy that blue suit from America, it has better lining and it's cooler.

With the heat, poses another question - how do those Elvii clean those jumpsuits?

Al said it all depended if the jumpsuit was smelly as to whether he'd need a fresh, clean one for the next day.

"They air well at night," Al and Cr Keith both said.

But the pair have to hand-wash their jumpsuits, rather than washing them in a machine or taking them to a dry cleaner.

"It tarnishes the metal," Cr Keith said.

Al washes his suits in the bath tub.

"I use soap, I soak it, rince and repeat," he said.

"Then lay flat to dry."

And if a suit needs mending - like if it splits because it's nice and snug or as Al calls it "comfortable" - well you take it to a seamstress of course.

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