One Year In: Local dance studio owner dated Elvis Presley, now has romance with younger man

By Ellen McCarthy
Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's been a year since Joyce Bova did the one thing she thought she'd never do -- get married.

Well, that's not quite true. She was engaged once, in the mid-1970s, to a charismatic Greek man who owned a chain of restaurants. But she called it off before long. He was possessive and jealous -- even of her previous boyfriends.

Mostly one previous boyfriend: Elvis. Bova met the King in 1969 while vacationing in Las Vegas and began a three-year relationship she would chronicle in a 1994 as-told-to tome called "Don't Ask for Forever: My Love Affair With Elvis -- A Washington Woman's Secret Years With Elvis Presley." That historic meeting between Elvis and Nixon? It was "actually an afterthought," says Bova, who was a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee at the time. "He was coming here to see me." Turns out Elvis had some apologizing to do for a fight he and Bova had during a Vegas liaison.

But this is not a story of loves past -- though there have been several, including a long-distance relationship with a Wall Street stockbroker that lasted 19 years. Even that can't compare, Bova says, to what she has now with a man named Mark Kameo, who was born in August 1977 -- the same month, she notes, that Elvis died.

When the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, Bova lost her job on the Hill. She used the opportunity to turn a lifelong hobby into a business and opened a ballroom dance studio, the Dance Den. For years she and her identical twin, Janice, were together and happy. Neither had children, and both of Janice's marriages had ended in divorce.

"I never even really wanted to get married," Bova, 65, says, sitting in an Arlington cafe in a denim jacket embellished with tan suede fringe and glimmering studs. "I didn't think it was a role that I would be good at because relationships always seem to end."

A peripatetic life had made that the case for Kameo, too. The 32-year-old engineer's family had moved dozens of times before he reached fifth grade. When his father finally settled in North Carolina, he became an all-star defensive tackle on the high school football team but gave up a college scholarship to join the Green Berets. After six years in the military, Kameo grew "tired of getting shot at," so he left for civilian life.

In 2000 Kameo relocated to Washington, where his mother and stepfather lived. Visiting his parents one day, he was introduced to his stepfather's administrative assistant -- Janice -- and her sister, Joyce.

"Looking back on it, I think I was instantly attracted to Joyce. I've always been interested in the old Italian movies, the old Mafia movies, like 'The Godfather,' " he says, adding that she reminded him of that era.

Bova, single-minded and effusive, told Kameo that he had the build of a great dancer and that he should start taking lessons from her.

The 23-year-old signed up for six classes but was so nervous he almost didn't make it through the door. Janice spotted him lingering outside the building and pulled him inside. Within a year he was taking two classes a week, then three, sometimes pawning his possessions to pay for more. The dancing was fine, but the draw was Bova.

"I wanted to be there with her. . . . I lived for it all week. 'When's my next one? When's my next one?' " he remembers thinking. "She wore a certain perfume and I'd go home and her perfume would still be on my clothes."

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