Reasonable Facsimiles

Elvises spill out of the showrooms. They perform weddings, bump into one another on the streets and some days, as in "Honeymoon in Vegas," rain down from the sky.

Sandy Taggart, on the other hand, is a Gloria Estefan. That makes her a bona fide non-Elvis impersonator.

Perennially and ubiquitously, the Elvises go for the form-fitting sequined jumpsuit, the hair, the sneer . . . .

But Taggart's Gloria, in the revue "American Superstars" at the Stratosphere hotel, is glamorously, bursting-at-the-seams ebullient--she reaches out to the true Gloria's truest fans, who otherwise would have reason to be aghast.

And so when Taggart meets her public, they are most gracious.

"More than anything they say, 'Boy you nailed her sound,' and 'I closed my eyes and I thought it was her up there,' " she says.

She caught on with this show about a year ago, and opens for other non-Elvis imitators: a Michael Jackson, a Charlie Daniels, a Madonna and a set of Spice Girls.

"I have secret dreams," Taggart says. "I'd love to do somebody like Celine Dione or Shania Twain or Selena."

Her music director, Keith Nelson, just wants her to be Gloria--not even Sandy being Gloria.

This is a "tribute," he says.

Non-Elvises have a high calling. Nicole Padberg, for one, flips through teeny-bopper magazines to get in touch with her inner Baby Spice.

"This has a lot to do with being a girl and being able to get away with wearing whatever the heck you want on your body," Padberg says, in her tiny dress and huge shoes. "You have to do it for yourself. It's an inner thing, and I'm down with that."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World