Every city has its own unique tradition.
Chicago dyes their river green for St. Patty’s. New York City has their world-renowned Puerto Rican Day Parade. But when it comes to what some Washingtonians tout as their favorite tradition, nothing beats the oddball spectacle of the 11th annual Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club.
That’s right. You didn’t read it wrong.
D.C. is the proud setting for Astro Pop Events’ glamorously sleazy burlesque comedy fight club dedicated to “The Pelvis” himself, Elvis Presley.
Started by an eclectic and sweet-hearted group of burlesque organizers, the Elvis fight night has used its bizarre nature to call together a community of D.C. goofballs and thrill-seekers.
Hosted by burlesque femcee Kittie Glitter and a comically-sporadic Presley impersonator (played by the equally unhinged Jared Davis), this year’s spectacular Elvis birthday bash is its 11th run and makes a home for itself in the gracious GALA Hispanic Theatre.
Featuring cartoon sound effects, celebrity fight tickets that once featured Queen’s Freddie Mercury square off against Queen Elizabeth II and a bedazzled Elvis host who can go off the handle more often than not.
“I’m a professional Elvis Presley babysitter.” Glitter laments with a gigantic smile.
And while the idea of a campy, sexy and ultimately silly birthday party for the King seems like a rager that never has a clear ending, it is amazing how much effort the Astro Pop team puts into this salute to slapstick.
“So much scripting is done beforehand.” producer Kate Taylor Davis reveals with fight coordinator James Finley confirming. “There’s a lot of thought and practice that goes into making things look unrehearsed.”
With constant record scratches and a fanbase that eggs on the over-the-top big top humor, one is left to think about who’s banding everyone together: Elvis Presley.
Much to my surprise, Astro Pop and its birthday team aren’t the typical Presley fans you’d expect to throw an Elvis party.
By no means do they dislike the King, but they do admit that Presley is largely used as a punching bag in their show, respectfully playing upon Elvis’s legacy of a hard-partying wildcard.
And when it comes to appreciating the legend’s music, it was actually an entire decade of organizing this show that made them fans of Presley’s rockabilly gyration celebration music, even turning sound designer and Beatles devotee, Mehdi Raoufi, into a lukewarm Elvis Presley appreciator.
With an 11th celebration coming up and many more on the horizon, Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club is magical in how it has united so many Washingtonians with an incredibly esoteric punk gesture.
Sure, maybe you’d hear a chuckled snort or see a raised eyebrow if you casually mentioned an Elvis Presley burlesque comedy fight to someone, but no amount of unconventionality takes from the fact that this show has a base that’s as welcoming as it is hilarious.
Join in on a D.C. tradition from July 15 to July 16. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
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