Peabody Memphis

This Blues City institution provided the royal treatment, but a VIP tour of Graceland was fit for a king
February 16, 2007





The highlight ofthe SI swimsuit crew's grand tour of Memphis was unprecedented access behindthe ropes at Graceland, where we were allowed to throw off our shoes and digour feet deep into the shag carpeting of Elvis's Jungle Room. Everyone tooksnapshots of each other against the backdrop of the animal-skin furniture andcame away convinced that the floating white dots in our images were due not tocheap flashes but rather the presence of the ghost of the King.

We found treasurein less obvious Memphis-area locales, too, such as the shoot on the oldrailroad bridge that traverses the Mississippi. First-year model Tori Praverwas flanked by crunk pioneers Juicy J and D.J. Paul of Three 6 Mafia, andphotographer Walter Chin said, "Make it real sexy." His instruction wasmeant for Tori, but Juicy J took it as a cue to flash his full grill. CraigBrewer, a Memphis resident and director of Hustle & Flow, which featuredthe Academy Award--winning Three 6 Mafia song, It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp,grinned as he watched. "This is a perfect moment," Brewer said."That girl, these guys, this bridge." Brewer liked having the rustybridge in the shot, he explained, because it reveals that Memphis is more thanGraceland and the usual tourist-brochure destinations.

From a musicstandpoint the city is an aural mosaic of blues, rock, country, crunk, hip-hopand '70s Memphis icon Isaac Hayes (also a participant in the shoot) branded"hot-buttered soul." SI's crew had set up at the Peabody Memphis, whichis within walking distance of B.B. King's and other Beale Street music clubs,making it the perfect home base when you're getting to know what Memphis is allabout.

What thePeabody's all about is Southern comfort: big rooms, plush beds, attentiveservice and an in-house tourist attraction. Every morning at 11, trained ducksfile into an elevator to make the trip from the rooftop to the lobby fountainbefore returning to the roof (via elevator) at 5 p.m.

PHOTOCOURTESY OF THE PEABODY MEMPHISAnonstop parade of attractions included (clockwise from top) the daily duck walkin the Peabody, hot-buttered soul man Hayes (in gold, with Chin) and Graceland,where Oluchi went along for the ride. PHOTODIANE SMITH [See Caption Above.]