I got this memoir of Dominic Parisi’s because it was about his life working at the Las Vegas Hilton, which was originally the International Hotel and is currently the Westgate Las Vegas Resort. This is the hotel that Elvis built. Elvis still holds the record for the most consecutive sold out shows in the history of Las Vegas at 837. Elvis played two shows a day for 30 Days every February and August and had the 30th floor suite names after him. My Vegas Life – Memories of Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow and the Golden Age of Vegas was just published this year. It was delivered yesterday. I started reading it around 2pm and was finished around 5pm. At 217 pages (in not so small print), Parisi’s memoir was an easy, fun read.
I was pleasantly surprised with Dominic’s memoir. In addition to all the Elvis stories, Parisi also had many storied about Olivia Newton-John (another one of my favorites). Seems Dominic loves Olivia as much as I do. Parisi also tells stories of Barry Manilow, Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson, Ann Margaret, Liberace and many others. I had no idea all these artists also played the Las Vegas Hilton.
Since the hotel is the Hotel Elvis Built, Dominic devotes one entire chapter to Elvis and mentions him throughout his memoir. Dominic worked at the Las Vegas Hilton from 1972 to 1976 (and then again from 1984 to 2015). He was not there for Elvis final performances at the hotel. It was Dominic’s job to take care of all the VIP guests. His title was Director of Specialty Restaurants, Room Service and Hospitality, so it was Dominic’s responsibility to set up the Elvis suite and stock it everyday, bring Elvis his breakfast, set up the dressing rooms and stock them, etc. He had a lot of contact with Elvis and the guys. It was fun to read how Elvis would go from his suite directly to the dressing rooms and even gamble and play golf.
But sadly Parisi is not up on his Elvis history. Dominic just wrote what he observed, but did not do any additional research about Elvis’ life so he might have been a little mixed up on what the Memphis Mafia guys did. Also, Parisi wrote about all of Elvis’ books in his room and commented he didn’t even know if Elvis read them. Any Elvis fan knows Elvis was a voracious reader, so yeah Elvis read all those books – they weren’t just for show (nothing Elvis did was just for show). And this next one really shocked me! Dominic actually wrote that is was just a rumor that Elvis and Ann-Margret were romantically involved because he never saw more than friendship between them. Well of course between the years of 1972 and 1976 Elvis and Ann-Margret were just friends and married to other people – they’re love affair was in the mid-1960s during and after the filming of Viva Las Vegas. Both Priscilla and Ann-Margret write about it in their memoirs. Dominic wrote how Ann-Margret’s engagements were always the week before Elvis’, and she and her husband would stay in the Elvis Suite. Elvis would send her flowers and sneak into her show to watch and she would sneak into his and watch. (Elvis always arrived a week early to rehears for his engagement.)
Parisi really was a big Elvis fan (even though he didn’t know too much about his life apparently) and would hang around after setting up his rehearsal space to hear Elvis sing and hang out after setting up for the after parties. Dominic said Elvis always asked him questions about himself, made him feel as if he was the only person in the room and made him feel like a friend. I have read this a lot from others who consider Elvis their friend, even if they didn’t truly know him, Elvis made them feel as if they were his friend. Parisi said Elvis was the most down to earth celebrity, along with Olivia Newton-John.
Like myself, Dominic is a huge Olivia Newton-John fan. He devoted many pages to Oliva writing, “Olivia is the most amazing woman.” Parisi would bring Olivia her breakfast and then stay after to have tea with her (per her invite) and then stay after and chat after he served Olivia her dinner, again at her invite. Dominic writes Olivia had no entourage and opened the door herself to receive her meals.
Besides all of the celebrity stories, which is why I bought Parisi’s memoir, Dominic also writes about the history of Las Vegas, the history and workings of the Las Vegas Hilton and the workings of casinos in general. Parisi was born in Steubenville, Ohio where there were a lot of mafia and his father ran an illegal gambling house. The family moved to Las Vegas when Dominic was little and then moved back when his dad died. At 18 years old, Parisi moved back to Las Vegas and four years later met Elvis working at the Las Vegas Hilton.
I will have to go back and visit the Westgate Hotel the next time I am in Las Vegas. I visited the hotel back in 2006 or so when it was the Las Vegas Hilton, but I was told the showroom was completely gutted and nothing like it was when Elvis played there. All I saw of Elvis was the statue in the lobby, but I hear the Westgate has some Elvis stuff now and even offer a tour of the Elvis suite even though it has been totally redone – no more yellow shag carpet. But Dominic made the Westgate sound as if staying there was like staying in the Golden Age of Vegas, so maybe instead of staying at Ballys like I usually do, I will stay at the Westgate and search for the ghost of Elvis.