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Originally published January 6, 2013 at 9:01 PM | Page modified January 7, 2013 at 4:56 PM

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Is Elvis impersonator's act fit to be King?

Elvis impersonator Clay Volz is a condo manager in Ballard on most days, but on Saturday he'll compete with at least 20 others to win the Seattle Invitationals, an Elvis competition at EMP Museum.

Seattle Times staff photographer

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Ballard condo manager Clay Volz will never be mistaken for the real Elvis, "but what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm."

"When you have that costume on, you start shaking the hips — Oh! Yeah!"

He'd done some karaoke, singing in choirs — all in groups. But a half-dozen years ago a friend gave him a bluesy album by Elvis Presley.

"I wasn't that big an Elvis fan. I liked The (Grateful) Dead, Jethro Tull, Tom Jones and the (Rolling) Stones."

That album changed his view.

"Nobody sang the variety he did — country, blues, rock, pop, gospel."

Volz thought, "I can sing that." An amateur invitational at Experience Music Project gave him an opportunity to try his impersonation skills on the Sky Church stage.

Volz bought glasses at Archie McPhee for $5. He bought a $2 costume at Target, on sale, and a wig with sideburns.

He plans on ditching the wig, using his own hair. He listens to the Elvis channel on Sirius radio while singing along in his car.

All in preparation for the next Seattle Invitationals, on Saturday at EMP, where more than 20 Elvi will compete. He'll sing "Mystery Train/Tiger Man" in his red suit.

Volz says, "I've actually finished last a couple of times. I lost to a guy who looked like Curly from the Three Stooges wearing a bad toupee.

"I was better than him."

Elvis' birthday is Tuesday. If he were alive he'd turn 78.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or

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