I’m sure a lot of you have seen The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, as it has been on Netflix Instant for a while now, but I’m never sure how many people have had the opportunity to watch that documentary’s prequel – The Dancing Outlaw, which focuses on Jesco White himself from about fifteen years earlier. A brief synopsis for anyone new to the White family as a whole: think coal mining, West Virginia family that does too many drugs, has probably witnessed a few cousins marry, and has curated an almost impressive disregard for the law. Jesco, the main character who has developed his own brand of fame following in his father’s footsteps as the best tap dancer in West Virginia (I am not joking), is also certifiably insane and probably a psychopath.
So what does this all have to do with Elvis? According to Jesco, he is Elvis. At least one-third of the time. Mr. White appears to have multiple personality disorder, and through the film you can meet all three of his personalities. Jesse is his nice character, Jesco is “the devil himself,” and then there’s Elvis. Jesco has collected probably literally every kind of Elvis memorabilia and stored it throughout his home, but the crowning jewel is the “recording studio” he set up in the basement. You cannot make this stuff up.
I haven’t really considered the cultural/academic/social connotations of a grown man’s adoption of Elvis as his third personality, and while I’m sure there are some, I’d rather just share a couple of choice video clips with you.
First, my favorite Jesco line, from The Dancing Outlaw:
And Jesco as Elvis, from…the internet: