The Stanfield Moose Lodge couldn’t help falling in love with Elvis impersonator Mark Stevenz.
Stevenz performed to a full house on Saturday night as part of the lodge’s effort to attract new membership and raise money for the charitable causes Moose International supports, from Christmas baskets for local families in need to Mooseheart, a children’s home in Chicago.
Stevenz started his career as an impersonator 12 years ago, when he sang an Elvis song at a karaoke bar in Vancouver, Washington. A local theater group was there, and approached him about playing Elvis in an upcoming play.
“They said ‘Try to look like Elvis,’ so I started growing out my hair and grew these little bitty sideburns,” he said.
Stevenz loved the experience so much he started moonlighting as the King at weddings, nursing homes and birthday parties. Eventually he booked enough gigs to quit his day job in construction, and moved on to performing at resorts and casinos, including a two-year stint in Cancun, Mexico. He even appeared on the television show “America’s Got Talent,” and he and his wife Nicky were featured in an episode of House Hunters International.
“Elvis is my hero,” he said. “I get to portray one of my heroes in life, and make people happy doing it.”
Stevenz said he watches at least one Elvis video per day to “stay sharp” and has picked up a lot of moves and tips for hair and makeup from fellow impersonators at Elvis competitions over the years. While he has placed in several competitions, he said his favorite award has been the “Heart of the King” at the Penticton ELVIS Festival in British Columbia, Canada.
“I’m really proud of receiving that from my fellow Elvis brothers,” he said.
On Saturday night he performed a two-hour show at the Stanfield Moose Lodge, complete with the sideburns and white fringed jumpsuit. The show mixed rock and roll classics like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Jailhouse Rock” with soulful ballads like “Kentucky Rain” and “In the Ghetto.”
He worked the crowd, making jokes between songs and frequently leaving the stage to kiss hands, cheeks and babies or pose for a photo. During “It’s Now or Never” he handed out long-stemmed red roses to women in the audience.
“You’ve been a fantastic audience, and I really appreciate it,” he told the crowd.
Beverly Stewart, a member of the Women of the Moose for 35 years, was the one who got Stevenz to come to Stanfield after her granddaughter told her about seeing him perform.
“I thought, ‘I’ve got to get him to the Moose Lodge,’” Stewart said. “I called him up and he was all for it.”
During intermission she said she thought he had done a wonderful job so far.
“I’m telling you, everyone loves him,” she said.