Amid this week's 20th anniversary of the singer's popularly disputed death, Elvis Presley sites are as common as Elvis Presley sightings and as busy as the King's hips on the Ed Sullivan show.
Fans, impersonators, merchants, and humorists have taken to the Internet, creating a collective multimedia tribute to Elvis that is alternately reverent, kooky, and downright tasteless. While most of the anniversary action is happening in Memphis, Tennessee, Netizens are keeping tabs on the events through the Web and newsgroups devoted to the King.
The official online center of the Elvis universe has been inundated with electronic visitors. "It's been crazy," said Paula Haynes, Webmaster for the site belonging to Graceland, Elvis's former home and current museum. The site has gotten so much traffic in the past week that a second server was installed. Daily hit counts over the past five days have topped 240,000, up from a normal range of between 5,000 and 10,000, according to Haynes.
Email to the site is up four-fold from a usual count of 100 messages. "We've gotten mail from every country you can imagine, and then some I never heard of," said Haynes.
Information about Memphis events marking the 20th anniversary will include photographic coverage of tonight's candlelight vigil at 9:00 ET.
Unofficial sites are divided into those by people who love Elvis, people who want to make money off Elvis, and people who think Elvis is hilarious.
Sincere fans have exploited the Web's multimedia capabilities to bring Elvis to life with photographs and recordings. An online scrapbook displays clippings about the singer's death. One site claims to offer a complete collection of lyrics to Elvis songs. Another features a discography with sound links, lyrics, and recording information for two dozen songs, including Elvis favorites "Hound Dog," "Tutti Frutti," and "Love Me Tender."
There also are newsgroups dedicated to Elvis, including alt.fan.elvis-presley and alt.elvis.king. Traffic seemed normal despite this week's observations.
Profit-seeking sites include the official Graceland site, which includes a Shopping Mall. Among the offerings are "limited edition" goods commemorating the 20th anniversary and featuring a 20th anniversary logo. The mall's sales this week have been "fantastic," according to Haynes. "They're breaking all records."
Less orthodox moneymaking schemes include The Flying Elvi, Elvis impersonators who, for a fee, will sky-dive at weddings and other social occasions. Art lovers can purchase Elvis-inspired works including the portrayal called "I Saw Elvis Selling Pictures From a Van in a Lot." Other artworks, including "Elvis in Space" and "Study Of Severed Elvis Head With Salmon," may be viewed on the Web but are not for sale.
Elvis humor on the Web is largely interactive. Netizens who want to document their Elvis sightings may do so. Earlier this summer, one could support a posthumous Elvis campaign for prime minister of Canada. Americans for Cloning Elvis is using the Web to collect signatures supporting its cause. And game fans can play against the King himself in a life-or-death battle over a pile of pills.