Turkish Elvis Impersonator Nevrez Caliskan

The King Is Alive and Well … in Germany!

This month marks the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth. Nevrez Caliskan, a 41-year-old Turk from Germany's industrial heartland, the Ruhr, is a professional Elvis impersonator and tribute act. He dances, sings, and gyrates just like his idol. Murat Koyuncu went to see him

Turkish Elvis impersonator Nevrez Caliskan (photo: Nevrez Caliskan)
"Laid back coolness": Nevrez Caliskan, from the district of Hochfeld in the German city of Duisburg, identifies with Elvis and adores his music

​​ Black sunglasses and a black leather jacket are his trademark. His hair is gently gelled back and his sideburns are as long as those of the man he emulates, the real Elvis.

When Nevrez Caliskan is out and about in his local neighbourhood in Duisburg-Hochfeld, lots of people wave and say hello. Everyone knows him; he is already a minor celebrity. Nevertheless, very few know his real name. To most, he is just "Elvis".

Mad about the "King"

His enthusiasm for the king of rock'n'roll began 33 years ago. It was 16 August 1977, the day Elvis Presley died, and the television channels were showing back-to-back documentaries and concert footage. Caliskan, only nine years old at the time, was rapt: "The way he sang and danced, the effect he had on women, it was just amazing!"

Above all, it was his laid back coolness and the way he danced that impressed the young Nevrez. And so it was that Nevrez Caliskan found his role model and came to want to be like Elvis. His life changed forever. From that point on, his world revolved around his new idol.

Caliskan learned the dance moves, practiced singing, and began to dress exactly like his hero. He now has over 200 Elvis songs in his repertoire. All of his costumes are custom made according to original designs in Turkey, each one costing between €400 and €2,000.

Occupation: Elvis Presley

The years rolled by and Nevrez Caliskan became more professional. Following the success of his first tribute performance to Elvis at a party marking the end of his school-leaving exams, he worked hard on his performance and even decided to turn his hobby into a job to finance his university degree.

He began entertaining people at town festivals and club parties. He later entered talent competitions and did very well.

Nevrez Caliskan ready to perform (photo: Nevrez Caliskan)
"Elvis in his blood": Nevrez Caliskan in full regalia

​​ After appearing on the ZDF-Fernsehgarten on Germany's second national television channel and later on the Harald Schmidt Show, a hugely popular late-night chat show, his fame spread. It was his big breakthrough: after the show, he received invitations, was offered gigs, and even got his very own fan club.

In fact, he became so popular that he had to give up his degree in electro technology. Nor did he have enough time to continue his study of economics. There were no two ways about it: he had Elvis in his blood.

Elvis songs in Turkish

Even though he is married and has a five-year-old son, Caliskan has not abandoned his love for his hero. Quite the opposite, in fact, he has big plans for the 75th anniversary of the King's birth. He would like to conquer the Turkish market together with the Duisburg-based band Teddy Technik; a double CD featuring Elvis classics in Turkish is in the pipeline.

But it doesn't stop there. Says Caliskan: "My dream is to switch from music to film, just like Elvis did. The reason being that not everyone is moved by rock'n'roll. Either you like it or you don't."

Acting, he says, is different; if you play your role well, widespread success is a sure thing.

Murat Koyuncu

© Deutsche Welle / Qantara.de 2010

Translated from the German by Aingeal Flanagan

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