I’m sure most people have heard of Graceland- the former home of Elvis Presley in Memphis,
TN, where you can take a self-guided tour of a dead guy’s home narrated by none other than
John Stamos. It’s a pretty popular tourist attraction where I’m from.
BUT have you ever heard of Graceland Too? Not many have, but those who have been there,
like myself, can tell tales of an experience unlike any other.
Graceland Too was a full house shrine dedicated to Elvis Presley, located in Holly Springs, MS
and owned and operated by a man named Paul MacLeod. While Graceland and Graceland Too
were similar in name and theme, they could not be more different attractions, and unfortunately
for some tourists (especially foreign tourists), they found that out the hard way.
For just $5 you could visit this shrine literally 24/7. It was never closed. It was said that Mr.
MacLeod never slept and he claimed to drink a full case of Coke per day to stay awake. So one
late night when my friends and I were in college, we decided to drive up and see the place for
ourselves. We could not have predicted what we would find.
Graceland Too was on the corner of a dark and deserted street. We drove up to a dilapidated
house, painted blue, green, beige, white, and black, with a barbed wire concrete block fence,
two lion statues, and a yard full of what appeared to be spray-painted Christmas trees. The front
door was wide open. I had that feeling that I was the girl in the horror movie that the audience
was screaming at:
“Don’t go in there, you idiot! Well, she’s dead. That’s it.”
As we walked into the house, we were immediately bombarded by Elvis, literally floor to ceiling. Below our feet, Elvis rugs. Above our heads, Elvis posters. And everywhere we turned, Elvis figurines, records, and memorabilia.
Then, we saw the man himself- Paul MacLeod, looking sort of like a poor man’s Terry Bradshaw with Elvis-style slicked back long gray hair and wearing black pants and a black and white Hawaiian shirt. He was leading a reluctant British couple who looked as if they had made a grave mistake.
He greeted us animatedly and talked fast and loud, although we could barely understand what
he was saying. He took our money, and then we were off on quite the adventure, although all I
could really focus on were his dentures that seemed to be popping in and out of his mouth.
The house overall looked more like a scene from Hoarders than a “museum,” but Mr. MacLeod related literally everything to Elvis. There was a box of Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches that he clearly had purchased to eat himself, and he said, “Elvis LOVED Jimmy Dean.” There were some gum wrappers that he claimed were worth $5000. And we realized just how crazy he was when he said, “I swear on my life. If I lie at any point while you’re in this house, you can kill me.
Shoot me dead. Cut my head off. Kill my family.”
He also did this thing where anytime one of us wasn’t paying attention, or even if we just weren’t looking at him, he would grab our arms and scream, “HEY!” At this point, the Sonic grilled cheese I had eaten on the drive seemed to be forcing its way out, but I swallowed it down and just laughed nervously.
Between the slurred speech and the scary “Heys!,” we picked up on a few more of his eccentricities. In one room, he opened a drawer full of bras and panties. He claimed they were all from women who were so moved by his Elvis tribute that they stripped and gave him their undergarments. That was the first time I thought, “Wow, we might actually die here.”
He took us into the backyard, which again, was closed in with a barbed wire concrete fence like a jail. Then, he said, “I have to take a phone call real quick. I’ll be right back.” And he locked us out there- where I discovered a fake electric chair with a mannequin child strapped into it.
My stomach dropped. And I immediately started hyperventilating and looking around for any possible thing I could use as a weapon.
But he did eventually come back, and luckily, we were not murdered.
He took us into the final room, and he said, “I have something really exciting to show y’all.”. He
pointed to a photo on the wall of a man dressed as Elvis, next to a photo of the actual Elvis.
“Who does that look like?”
“Uh... Elvis,” we said.
“That’s my son. Named Elvis Aaron Presley MacLeod. He is the reincarnation of Elvis.”
Even though the two looked nothing alike, he showed us a wall full of photo comparisons of his son and the actual Elvis, trying to prove his theory.
Having resolved myself to death, I pretended I was in an episode of The Office and looked at the fake camera with a signature Jim wide-eyed face.
Then, for his grand finale, he pulled out his karaoke machine and started singing the most off-beat, tone-deaf version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and yelled the familiar “Hey!” if we weren’t watching him. Suddenly, we heard another group come in the house. Lucky for us, he immediately went out to greet them, and we were able to make our escape.
About a year after our visit, Mr. MacLeod apparently had an argument with a man who was helping him paint his house over an allegedly unpaid debt of $10. Yes, $10. Then, Mr. MacLeod pulled out his gun and shot the guy in the heart at point-blank range, killing him.
The next day, Mr. MacLeod was found slumped over on his front porch, dead of a heart attack. After hearing about these events, I was more convinced than ever that we were lucky to make it out that night. It’s something we all laugh about now, but realistically, Mr. MacLeod was slightly deranged and wildly unpredictable, and should not have been operating a tourist attraction. We actually could have been murdered or seriously injured, and that’s something that will forever haunt me.
The house and its contents were put up for auction after his death. It almost seems like a place that never existed. But to all of us who got to experience it over its 25 years of operation, we will always remember the child mannequin in the electric chair, the $5000 gum wrappers, and the man who loved Elvis above all else.