Palm Springs Easters With Elvis
Elvis has always been with our family. While courting my husband Seymour, I re-routed romantic cross-country road trips through Memphis so we could visit Graceland, then Tupelo so we could visit The King's birthplace. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Las Vegas -- me in a red Marilyn Monroe dress, Seymour in a medicine shirt -- renewing our vows with Elvis as the officiant. Our tween daughter spent years insisting to anyone who would listen that Elvis was alive, since when she was five she saw The King in all his gold lamé splendor, holding up a sign to promote a local gas station -- and nothing could convince her he was gone, not even her dad's stories of how his August 17th seventh birthday was derailed by Elvis's August 16th death. Elvis is part of our family soundtrack.
We also had our own family Elvis mystery. Every so often, Seymour would tell us about the Palm Springs house owned by an eccentric relative but somehow touched by Elvis, a house Seymour and his family would visit every Easter. The exact relationship between Elvis and the house was unclear -- Seymour thought it might have been owned by Elvis's manager The Colonel, a legendary Palm Springs resident. My husband had few clear memories, though he did remember that the family learned to keep all doors locked due to tourists' tendencies to walk in the front door and demand to be shown around.
We got to demand our own tour this year.
Once we'd decied to visit it only took one phone call and a single web search to figure out which Palm Springs Elvis-associated home was the site of Seymour's childhood Easters. There's no forgetting a house like this:
And there's a good reason tourists want to invade the house: it's Elvis and Priscilla's Honeymoon Hideaway! It's where Elvis carried Priscilla over the threshold, then disappeared with her upstairs for several hours. It's also an official tourist destination and Elvis memorabilia museum, with tours available by request as long as you phone ahead. Which we did, even though we'd already spent a full day exploring nearby Joshua Tree National Park -- no telling when we'd return to Palm Springs.
The tour was awesome! And so eerie, for Seymour. He said most everything looked much as it had in the late '70s and early '80s, even though the house had been retro-remodeled to Elvis-era authenticity wherever possible. Seymour got to show us the 70-foot-long built in sofa, the exaggeratedly geometric pool in which he and his brother swam away their Easters, and the rock-faced walls that passed through floor-to-ceiling windows and blurred inside/outside boundaries.
The tour host was an Elvis uber-fan, and a gracious one. He accommodated our three monkeys, and was interested in Seymour's on-site experiences. He also incorporated our family into the narrative whenever he could -- though that got awkward when we realized one tour theme was how Seymour's relative's remodeling had ruined the house, and how much effort it took to restore the house to circa-Elvis glory.
The guide was also extremely knowledgeable about the house (if misinformed about Seymour's family history), and we learned a lot: Elvis rented the house but ended up buying another nearby (which you can also tour) because the then-desert-bare perimeter was too difficult for his staff to secure. Palm Springs became a celebrity destination after film companies prohibited Las Vegas-bound actors from straying more than 100 miles from their sets -- Palm Springs is about 100 miles from Hollywood. Elvis and Priscilla were married on May 1, 1967, and Lisa Marie was born exactly 9 months later, on February 1, 1968 -- so she was definitely conceived in the master suite.
Our three kids were mostly compliant and patient during the tour. Still, much as they love Elvis, what they really wanted to see was the jacuzzi tub in the master suite. The tub makes Elvis fans indignant as it was not part of the Elvis-era design, but seeing it was a magical moment for our kids, and the site of one of our family's best Easter stories: When Seymour and his brother were not much older than our six-year-old Mali, they managed to escape to that bathroom. Where they found a huge selection of toupees, each resting upon its own foam head. The toupees were immediately tossed into the jacuzzi, where the boys watched them swirl around until an adult discovered their hijinks and chased them out -- though it was too late for the toupees, all of which had shrunk. Don't you think that story should be part of the tour, too?
We might go back, one day. The house is not just a tourist destination and a memorabilia museum -- it's also rentable. Maybe we'll spend a future Easter there ourselves, hiding from the desert heat in the pool, having our kids take a toupee-free spin in the hot tub, and basking in as much Elvis as possible.
Here's what happens when folks rent the Elvis Hideaway House for a party:
Other bloggers' takes on Elvis's Honeymoon Hideaway:
- Jackie Craven at About.com Architecture: The Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway: A Masterpiece of Mid-20th Century Modernism
- Stumptown Blogger: The Elvis and Priscilla Honeymoon Pad in Palm Springs
- We Love RVing: Elvis ~ Birthday ~ Honeymoon House ~ Palm Springs, CA