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Man about town

Great questions bedevil Man About: questions such as who the hell is Eldon John? And where is he? And what’s happening to his namesake, the pudgy piano-playing Sir Elton John?

Further questions arise: has Elton John’s supposed concert at Angkor Wat later this year been cancelled before it’s even been officially announced? And why are people representing Elton John in Bangkok conducting a witch-hunt in Siem Reap, accusing eminently respectable hoteliers and other human life-forms of leaking the information to Man About, back in November, that a tour was being proposed.

Tour talk was further enhanced last week, on February 16, when a blog titled Club Sandwich, written by UK would-be celeb chef Alan Watts, discussed the possibility of an Angkor concert this November.

Watt’s wrote, “Sir Elton’s publicist Gary Farrow refused to give any details of the concert. ‘(It’s) not been announced yet, Elton will not be doing any media at present,’ he told me.

“A source working for the lighting team that have been approached to put on the show said: ‘The only thing we’ve been told at the moment is the concert is going to be at Angkor Wat at the end of this year.

‘“We’ve been told it will probably be in November because Elton will already be in Asia that month for the last gig of his world tour, at the Mata Elang International Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, on November 17’.”

But back here in Siem Reap, word is that the Angkor show will not eventuate.

Meanwhile, last week a story surfaced in the Canadian press about a journalist who bumped into an Elton John lookalike in Siem Reap who had been busy signing photographs around town as Eldon John.

About Eldon, the journalist wrote: “‘I work with Elton John,’ he said again with a slight smile. ‘I'm his body double. Elton's virtual twin.’

"Pardon my ignorance," I replied, "but exactly what does a body double do?"

"‘I stand in for him on stage if he thinks there's a security problem,’ he said. ‘I get to ride in the limo and wave at people. I sign autographs. That sort of thing’."

"You're pulling my leg," I said. He pulled two photos out of his pocket. ‘One is Elton, the other is me,’ he said. I studied them. I couldn't tell who was who. He did look exactly like Elton John. It was really uncanny.”

The encounter with Eldon, who in real life is a Californian named Richard Fergison, happened at Siem Reap’s Riverside Hotel.

When Man About queried staff about Elton and/or Eldon John, they had never heard of either party. They knew of an Australian guest called John who recently stayed and donated $4000 to the nearby Acodo Orphanage.

But when they were shown a photo of Elton, they said yes they remember him; he stayed at the hotel in about September. Or maybe November.

Either way, as a result of Man About’s enquiries, a photo of Elton taken from the internet now graces the hotel, with a “he stayed here” note.

Which possibly explains a signed photo of (ostensibly) Elton which used to hang in Phnom Penh’s Fancy Guesthouse, with the handwritten legend, “To Fancy Guesthouse, Thanks for all.”

Apparently Elton, or was it Eldon, stayed at the 2-star guesthouse about three years ago and to further confuse matters, this stay seems to have been at about the same time that Queer Cambodia, on October 14, 2008, reported a proposed Elton John concert. Queer Cambodia said, “Yes queer folks, there are gossips that our big sister will do a benefit concert here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.”

This followed a report earlier in October 2008 in Kansas City-based Camp Magazine, which quoted Sir Elton as telling journalist and gay rights activist Mark Segal that he was planning to visit Cambodia as part of a project. The concert never happened, and the big question is will this year’s concert actually ever happen? And who will perform? Sir Elton, or Eldon?

It’s enough to do a thinking man’s head in.

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