81. Elvis

Tapehead no 81

Tapehead’s first column of the New Year is dedicated, appropriately enough, to being fat.

Ricki Lake: “My Man Won’t Be Seen With Me Because I’m So Fucking Fat” is about men who claim they love their partners but are embarrassed by their size.

“When we go out together,” Gabriel moans, “she’s so fat. She’s fat. And I tell her she’s fat. ‘You’re so fat.'”

Not the most articulate individual, Gabriel has been married to Laura for seven years…

Then there’s Tim, an over opinionated Neanderthal, who calls Jennifer names to try and shame her into dieting.

“What are some of those names, Tim ?” asks Ricki, helpfully asking the exact question we were all thinking.

“Oh. ‘Fat Pig’. ‘Linebacker’. ‘Heavy Duty’. ‘Wide Load’.”

That should do the trick. 

Tim has a peculiarly pragmatic approach to being overweight.

“What’s the weight for ?” he shouts. “It’s not serving any purpose. If you want the weight, make it useful. Like I told her recently, grow a beard and join the circus.”

Yee-hah. That really gets the audience going. Even Ricki loses control and lunges for his throat.

When Tim’s partner, Jennifer waddles out, she kicks him on the shin.

“I’m fed up,” she complains, which is surely the whole point. If only she could just stop feeding up…

The whole episode is, of course, Ricki’s idea of heaven. She defends the girls to the hilt, but you can see her eyeing them up, thinking: “Fuck me, she’s fat. I was never that fat.”

By the end, Ricki’s sashaying around the studio with an extra slink in her step (the minx).

Last word goes to Antoinette, telling her boyfriend: “I  don’ need ever’body tellin’ me to ‘lose weight, lose weight, lose weight’. I’ll lose weight when I get rid of you, fool.”

A new series of Roseanne heralds the return of the original Becky, prompting a string of “Where the hell have you been ?” gags, a cute closing credits sequence with the Two Beckys together, and lots of unnaturally maternal loveliness from America’s favourite Fat One/Pregnant One.

Roseanne and Jackie go shopping at Mothercare and Becky and Darleen throw something called “a baby shower” to raise some cash to be able to buy anything there.

“What’s with the fruit ?” Roseanne asks Becky. 

“I’m making a fruit punch.”

“Well I’ve always found the best way to make fruit punch is to open a carton of Fruit Punch and then open another carton of Fruit Punch.”

As Darlene mutters: “when she hugged me, I knew true fear.”

Arena: The Burger And The King chronicles the life and times of Elvis through the food he ate, from his rots in Tupelo, Mississippi, during the depression, to the Luderdale Courts Projects in Memphis, Hollywood and, finally, Vegas.

“Elvis probably ate squirrel as a boy,” declares a Mississippi old boy, as he takes another pot-shot at dinner. “You develop a taste for ’em.” (True.)

The cast of characters is pretty great: Mary, Elvis’s cook for 26 years (“First day, I called him Mr Elvis and that’s all I ever called him”); his brother-in-law, Billy Stanley; his doctor; and lots of people obediently saying, “This is what Elvis ate.”

So we get recipes for pigs’ feet, turnip greens, and cornbread; barbecued pork pizza and cheeseburgers; peanut butter and banana sandwiches fried in butter.

Elvis: The Army Years are represented by “SOS” (Shit On A Shingle): milk, fat, and beef stock. Yum-yum.

The best story is about the time he flew from Hollywood to Denver and had a diner deliver 22 enormous “Fool’s God” sandwiches to the runway. The King’s order consisted of 22 large French loaves. Sixteen jars of peanut butter. Sixteen jars of jam. Twenty-two pounds of bacon.

Forty-two thousand calories per sandwich. (Something even Jennifer would have difficulty putting away.)

By the time he died, Elvis was on so many drugs, he couldn’t feel the pain of his stomach exploding internally with all that food.

The last character we meet is Elvis’s undertaker. The closing credits feature people insisting: “Elvis Lives.”

But watching this, you could be forgiven for thinking Elvis didn’t live even when he was living.


Ricki Lake: 5pm, Wed, C4

Roseanne: 10pm, Fri, C4

Arena: The Burger And The King: 9pm, Mon, BBC2