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“I was chastised and threatened with being banned from competing in the future by the contest promoter, for allowing my fans to confront the judges,” says Elvis impersonator James Kruk (aka King Kruk), who won fourth place at Pechanga’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest on June 5.

“I received a call from contest promoter Kurt Brown, and he was very upset that my fans made the judges feel threatened. These are 60- to 80-year-old ladies ‘attacking’ the judges, and they feel threatened!”

“I received the largest standing ovation of the evening, but one judge scored me a four in appearance while the others had me at an eight. The audience booed when I was announced as fourth…clearly, someone wanted me out of the competition, and to perhaps ruin my only source of income. I seriously thought of putting my jumpsuits in the trash.” Onetime Temecula mainstay Travis Allen took home the top slot, making him eligible to compete in the next contest rounds.

Based in Oceanside, Kruk — a former English teacher — recreates the look and songs from 1968 to 1974. He's backed by North County band City Limits, and his staging includes a show that recreates the entire '68 Comeback Special; another parallels the 1973 satellite TV broadcast Aloha from Hawaii. “I’m also an ordained minister who can perform weddings as Elvis,” says Kruk, who charges around $600 to serve as musical minister.

More budget-conscious Elvis fans can always arrange a personal phone call from Kruk, as Elvis, for themselves or someone else, for $10. “I can’t always connect with the person, so I’ll leave a message for the same ten bucks.”

So far this year, the King Kruk has been playing L.A. more frequently than San Diego. “When people in L.A. ask how much for an hour solo show and I say $400, they say okay. In San Diego, 75 percent of the time they have a stroke and whittle me down as low as possible.” Citing Viejas as the only exception, he says, “Clubs pay terribly in San Diego. I make ten times more money at a ten-year-old’s birthday party in Gardena singing for 20 minutes than my entire band will make at the most famous club in San Diego singing for an hour.”

James Kruk performs as Elvis at Viejas on June 25.

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Like this blog? Here are some related links:

OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/

FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/

SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic

JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford

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