By Taylor Linzinmeir, Staff Writer
Many call him the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but few call Elvis Presley what he really was: a sex offender. I won’t be talking about Presley’s rise to fame in this article; he has already been unreasonably idolized and glorified in countless ways over the years. Instead, I want to talk about something that is rarely covered by the media: his predatory and abusive behavior.
Priscilla Ann Beaulieu, later Presley, was living in Germany with her mother and father in 1959 when she met Elvis Presley. Priscilla was a 14-year-old high school freshman; still just a child, shy and worried about being popular in school, not yet old enough to drive. Elvis, on the other hand, was an incredibly famous 24-year-old rock star, stationed in Germany during his time serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. With his global notoriety, age and wealth, he was in a position of immense power — power he used to control and manipulate Priscilla’s young mind.
In her book “Elvis and Me“, Priscilla quotes Elvis when the two first met at his home in Bad Nauheim, Germany. His words to her were, “Why, you’re just a baby.” He, a fully-fledged man — an adult — had to request permission from her father for Priscilla to visit Elvis on school nights. Priscilla was granted permission, under the conditions that her parents meet Elvis first, and that he personally drive her home.
Priscilla’s age never deterred Elvis from pursuing a relationship with her; instead, her innocence appealed to him. She was young and impressionable, and easy to control. He often called her “Little One” or “my little girl” and was fascinated by her virginity. When his time with the U.S. Army came to an end and he had to leave Germany to return to the U.S., he begged Priscilla to remain “untouched, as I left you,” as he felt her having sex would “spoil” her.
Though they never had intercourse before marriage, Elvis and Priscilla participated in sexual acts — when she was still a teenager, and he was a decade her senior. He was the first person she was ever intimate with and therefore had no means to compare their sex life with a healthy one.
Priscilla often spent late hours alone with Elvis, in his bedroom, many days of the week, which led her grades to tank, especially in algebra. Seeing the toll their late-night relationship had taken on Priscilla, Elvis had the bright idea to give the teenager the prescription drug Dexedrine, a stimulant used to treat ADHD, to help her stay awake during the school day.
Once, a friend of Elvis drove Priscilla home from Elvis’s. While they were driving, the man, referred to as “Kurt” in her book, pulled over and tried to rape her. When Elvis found out, he flew into a rage — but not because of the attempted sexual assault. His rage stemmed from his view of Priscilla as an object, and that object had nearly been spoiled for him. Priscilla writes, “[Elvis] paced the floor, cursing Kurt. I was his little girl, Elvis said, and he had never gone all the way with me. Now this other guy, this so-called friend of his, had tried to rape me.”
With Elvis living in the U.S., and Priscilla completely devoted to him in Germany, in 1962, Elvis convinced Priscilla to move to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Her parents were initially horrified, but gave their blessing after Elvis agreed Priscilla would live with his father (she didn’t), and finish her senior year of high school.
Let’s recall: by this time, Priscilla was 17 and Elvis was nearing 30.
Priscilla was a devoted partner. She dedicated most of her time and effort to ensure that Elvis was comfortable and that his every desire was doted on. As a result, she barely graduated high school and didn’t pursue higher education; Elvis convinced her she didn’t need to. After all, she had him to teach her everything she needed to know.
Elvis sought to control every aspect of Priscilla’s personality and appearance. Priscilla states in her book, “He taught me everything: how to dress, how to walk, how to apply makeup and wear my hair, how to behave, how to return love — his way. Over the years he became my father, husband, and very nearly God.” Elvis wanted to turn Priscilla into his ideal woman — his very own living doll.
Priscilla was constantly afraid that anything she did or said would cause Elvis to leave her for another woman, and she vied for any attention he could give her. She often talks in her book about how Elvis would ask her how she was doing, but he never truly wanted to hear how she felt if it was anything other than content. He had enough to worry about himself and didn’t have time to attend to Priscilla’s emotions. From the time they met when she was 14, it was Priscilla’s job to listen to a grown man’s deepest emotions, combat his every insecurity and suppress that of herself.
Therefore, Priscilla was eager to sexually please Elvis, as a way to become closer to him and stabilize their relationship. All the while, she was worried about being too sexually aggressive — a trait he hated in women. Elvis liked women submissive, in every aspect of life.
“Ordinary thrills sometimes were not enough, especially when he was under the influence of powerful drugs,” she writes in her book. “I lived for those moments when we were alone. I was careful to say little that might jeopardize my bond with him. I fulfilled his needs and his beliefs became mine.”
When it comes to abusive relationships, Elvis ticks every single box. He pushed Priscilla to start abusing prescription drugs with him. When the two got in arguments, he often became violent, breaking things, slamming doors and even throwing things at her. At least one of their drug-fueled fights ended with Priscilla receiving a black eye.
Elvis was the only one in the relationship allowed to make decisions and believed in rigid misogynistic roles that men and women should abide by. He played mind games and called her a “crazy woman” when she confronted him about his infidelity. Elvis believed it was the woman’s job to remain faithful, not the man’s.
After Elvis moved Priscilla to Graceland, he kept her away from her parents and forced her to spend most of her time with people in his circle. She was nervous about bringing her family around Elvis, afraid of how he might react — she knew he was “touchy.” He isolated her and prevented her from getting a job; a job would take away time and energy she could concentrate on him — in turn, making her rely solely on him for any income. If she disobeyed his orders, he would threaten to break up with her and send her back to Germany
Glorifying Elvis only permits this behavior from other men. People think that his abuse is acceptable because of his art — or that it’s even romantic — and it is not. We cannot allow perpetrators of sexual violence and domestic abuse to have a get out of jail card just so that you can listen to songs like “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and romanticize abuse. We don’t need Elvis. Take it from me, I stopped listening to Elvis years ago and my life has not come crashing down. Yours won’t either.