At the purple-black decorated desk in the New Daisy Theatre on famous Beale Street in downtown Memphis I sit working – and, waiting for all the fans to finally get their autographs and take their photos of themselves together with Elvis-Impersonator Ben Portsmouth, who just minutes ago was sitting right there on a white wooden folding chair performing his acoustic concert. It’s Elvis Week 2015 and the city is crowded with men, women and even children who look astonishingly similar to Elvis Presley. Ben Portsmouth though is looking rather casual right now with his plain white T-shirt and fawn-colored trousers as he welcomes his fans with an excessively charismatic smile. At long last – after all the fans have had their chance to shake hands with him – Ben appears with a stack of New Zealand chocolate, a much appreciated gift from his fans. Ben directs his eyes to me as if to acknowledge what we both know – we’re starving – and so Ben proposes we go out to lunch.
Using my rental car we drop off his luggage at his hotel and then proceed to the restaurant of a luxury hotel in downtown Memphis. On our way there I offer Ben the choice of either the AC or an open window and immediately he grins and opens the window on the curbside – very European, very charming. I find it even more charming how he is singing along from time to time on our way to the restaurant. As we talk I learn that Ben appreciates dining in expensive steakhouses even though he comes across as very down-to-earth and humble. He explains that along with Brazil, Spain (which is close to his home country) is one of Ben’s favorite travel destinations as he shows a lot of interest in Spanish history. During flights he is the price-conscious kind of guy who would choose economy over first class even though he is 6’0″ (1,82m) tall, which coincidentally is the same height as Elvis. If he were a millionaire, he admits, he’d probably travel first class, but until that day “cattle class” would suffice.
Ben Portsmouth makes his living by being Elvis Presley. In 2012 he won the Ultimate Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis, which has taken place annually during Elvis Week ever since 2007 and elects the one person who represents Elvis best. The winner of this contest is subsequently booked for Elvis Shows all over the world, and Ben Portsmouth was the first non-American to receive that privilege. At the age of 20 he left England (his home) and travelled to Turkey. Altogether he has travelled to approximately 20 countries – most of them due to his participation in Elvis shows, contests, and related activities. The exact number of countries to which he has travelled he does not know because, just as his colleagues, he explains that everything happens so fast that it is difficult to keep track of trip details. Whenever flying, he tries to spend as little time as possible inside the plane and therefore always tries to board as the last passenger. Travelling in general for him is an annoying necessity to get from one place to the other. Transfers are not up his alley either – no matter if it’s flights or road trips.
When he is on the road being Elvis he says he always needs to pack for two people; as such he takes great care to minimize his own private “stuff”; notwithstanding, always with him are his purse, smart phone, and a random aftershave. Apart from that, his friend and manager, who confirms that Ben does not easily tolerate the hassles of transportation nor does he enjoy meetings at the destination – is also omnipresent and keeps an eye on Ben’s nutrition. “To make sure I’ll always fit into those expensive jumpsuits of mine,” Ben adds with a wink. As soon as Ben reaches the hotel at his destination he goes searching for places to charge his smart phone because his battery never seems to last long enough. Once that is taken care of he can settle in to enjoy his room and amenities; ideally he would have enough time for that since normally he tries to arrive one day before his gig – mostly in case the bag with his costumes might get lost.
Ben underlines that he prefers the simpler things in life and he considers neither flying nor extreme sports to be among them. Instead he would rather enjoy a good meal, pleasant company, or his traditional afternoon tea, which as a “stubborn Englishman” he simply must have. Apart from that Ben is an aficionado of music and likes watching documentaries. He has developed a fascination for World War II flicks and in his precious spare time he watches any footage on DVD, TV, or online. When Ben is on the road in foreign countries he always tries to get in touch with the language and the culture as much as possible. During his 2014 tour through Germany, for example, he learned a lot of German vocabulary with very good pronunciation, as was evidenced in our conversations together.
Notwithstanding his passion for Elvis, Ben loves to be at home, the place where he was born and raised; as such the longing for his son is produces melancholic feelings that accompany Ben on every journey. Consequently, when he travels free Wi-Fi is very important for him so that he can keep in touch with his son visually via video telephone. As long as he has the opportunity, Ben wishes to continue to travel the world being Elvis Presley in the foreseeable future – maybe even with his son from time to time. Apart from that, the ideal landing place for him would be a cozy haven from where he could see the ocean; there he could enjoy every afternoon with his traditional Earl Grey Tea with milk and honey and a piece of chocolate…
I loved Ben from the first time I saw him in person. He is the whole package when it comes to Elvis. He is also a song writer & singer in his own right. Ben will bring back memories of Elvis as long as he does him justice, because he is a perfectionist.
Thank you so much on this awesome storyline on Ben Portsmouth, some of which I am familiar with as I toured with him while he was in New Zealand and I was the one who gave him all those chocolates…..his favourites. And yes, Ben is so down to earth that at times it is hard to believe that he is a super star, my opinion of cause.
Like many true Elvis fans, Ben has the same followers, many flying from Country to country just to see him perform. Before Ben Portsmouth, I was never an ETA fan…… they were not even on my radar. Ben changed all that because I believe he is second to none to the King of Rock, Elvis Presley
I was fortunate to see Ben perform in Sydney..he took my breath away..reminded one so much of Elvis..handsome, lovely dimpled smile, funny, humble, obliging..hope we are going to see u ‘down under’ soon..Cody Slaughter accompanied him & they were terrific together!
went to see ben Portsmouth for the first time last night and it will be something I will never forget! I love elvis and his songs and this concert by ben was brilliant.! he not only sounds like elvis, but looks like him too! I had to pinch myself to realise it WASNT the real thing!! a great night- I want to go again!!
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I had the pleasure of seeing Ben perform for the very first time in Las Vegas last year (2017) and have made arrangements to see him again in Vegas this year. Quite by accident learned he’ll be playing at the historic El Portal Theatre in Inglewood CA July 7th. So looking forward to this. He is unbelievably charismatic to say the very least and is a phenomenal tribute artist for Elvis. He truly has … as has been said … the whole package. A genuine sole who God has blessed. Welcome to California Ben!
looking forward to seeing Ben at weymouth pavilion on september 13th .can’t wait
hi Ben looking forward to seeing you in weymouth dorset soon hope you have a safe journey here .Patricia .patricia
I would like to see Ben perform in South Africa at Grant West Arena, Cape Town. Ben is awesome, he is the whole package when it comes to Elvis. He is so charismatic and a phenomenal performer. I am also a Elvis Presley fan and out of all the Elvis impersonators Ben reminds me a lot of him.
The guy is in love with himself and thinks he is above the other tribute artists out there. There are many better than him and they are humble. After what I saw of him this past week I would never waste my money on him.
I saw Ben Portsmouth at the O2 in the Indigo for the first time and he was just sensational. He was full of charisma, uniqueness and talent and I enjoyed him a lot.
He is also very funny and very down to earth to his fans.
I’ve never met him before and I would like to say that he is just phenomenal as Elvis Presley.
He looks like Elvis, sounds like Elvis. I think he has got the whole Elvis Presley package in him.
I loved him.
He is 90,0000% amazing.
I went to see Ben Sunday night in Geelong Australia and was lucky enough to be to dance with him on stage on the 13th October…Wow what a Gorgeous and Very Humble Man…He blew me away i thought i was on stage dancing with Elvis.God Bless You Ben and your Family..Mind Blowing and Breathtaking Performances all night..Thankyou Ben Portsmouth. Your the BEST X
i have only watched videos and Ben is the real deal when it comes to ETA, He is definitely #1. and how Blessed a man is he to be so Gifted by God as a singer-songwriter, musician, and one in a million Elvis=Oh Yeah he has nailed it. My only wish would be is to have him more in the states. Please book a concert to Minneapolis, Mn. Beautiful man inside and out.