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S&Lvis: Just Don't Step on His Bailout Blues

November 28, 1990|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The nation's savings and loan debacle is now a King-size problem.

All shook up about the hunk-a, hunk-a money taxpayers are shelling out to resolve the mess, Elvis Presley impersonator Nicholas D'Ambra debuts today as "S&Lvis" at a union rally in Los Angeles being dubbed the "S&L Spectacular." His first song is "Tax Break Hotel." Soon to come, he says, is "Bailout Rock."

The Los Angeles actor, who has impersonated The King for some three years at small shows and private parties, hopes that his appearance will launch him as the king of the S&Lvis impersonators. D'Ambra, 23, was asked to appear as S&Lvis at the rally outside the Hyatt Wilshire Hotel by members of Local 11 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union, who are in a lengthy contract dispute with the Hyatt Corp. chain's owners, the billionaire Pritzker family of Chicago.

Like a lot of savvy investors, the Pritzkers bought a failed savings and loan in 1988 in a government-assisted transaction. The deal for the Illinois thrift is one of a host of purchases critics now say were generous giveaways by the former Federal Home Loan Bank Board at taxpayers expense. In "Tax Break Hotel," D'Ambra sings, "The deal the bank board gave them was too good to be true, for every dollar they put in there's 15 from you."

Pritzker representatives have argued that the family is taking a big financial risk, that they inherited extensive problems at the S&L and that they are not using government-granted tax benefits for unrelated operations as some thrift buyers are doing.

For his part, D'Ambra sees singing about the Pritzker tax break as his big break, especially with temperatures rising over the depth of the nation's S&L fiasco. "With the obvious public discontent over the cost to us, our children and our grandchildren, I see a great future in doing this," he said.

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