02/27/1995 at 01:00 AM EST
FIRST THERE WAS ELVIS. HE WAS THE KING, and he is, most likely, no longer with us. Then came the Elvis impersonators. There appear to be thousands of them all over the world, and their number increases daily.
Then came the skydiving Elvis impersonators. There are at least two groups of skydiving Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas alone. And they're suing each other.
The competing jumpers had their genesis in the 1992 movie Honeymoon in Vegas, starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker
, which featured a troupe of skydiving Elvises. Life must imitate art, because the movie spawned a new career track for guys with pompadours and spangled jumpsuits who also happen to be Airborne-qualified.
Las Vegas impresario Richard Feeney (father of the "Crazy Girls" topless revue at the Riviera Hotel and Casino) and his partner Joe Speck promptly put together the 10-man Flying Elvi, who began appearing at casino openings and amusement parks. But in January 1993, Mark Miscevic, one of the Elvi, bounced off a parked Oldsmobile Delta 88 during an Elvi jump and knocked himself into a coma for six weeks. After several months of recuperation, Miscevic, who coordinated skydiving for Honeymoon, decided to branch out on his own.
With the blessing of the King's estate, he started the Flying Elvises and eventually was joined by four other renegade Elvi. "Using 'Elvi' was disrespectful," says Miscevic, 47, a Vegas real-estate executive Monday through Friday. Feeney, who calls his group the Elvi because he likes to think it's the Latin plural of Elvis, sued in federal court, claiming service-mark infringement, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and interference with business opportunity. He is suing to blow the Elvises out of the sky, claiming his group alone owns the right to jump from planes while dressed as Elvis. Miscevic is countersuing on behalf, he says, of anyone who wants to hit the silk in the name of the King. "Let's compete in the free market," he says.
If the two sides can't hammer out a settlement, they'll face off in federal court on-March 13. That way, a judge can settle the whole mess—suit, countersuit and jumpsuit.
ANNE-MARIE OTEY in Las Vegas