Got plans for Halloween?
Your safest option may be to join The Demon and The Prince of Darkness. I mean, why not? It’s the oddest Halloween so far of the 21st-Century, and maybe of all time! I mean, who else should we write about for Halloween 2020, BUT the one and only Gene Simmons of KISS!
Gene Simmons, aka The Demon from iconic glam rock band KISS, will be featured as a guest DJ on Ozzy Osbourne’s Boneyard SiriusXM station this week.
Simmons and Osbourne both rose to fame as rock and roll pioneers in the 1970s and then enjoyed a revival of sorts in the 1990s with their own respective television reality series.
Simmons hasn’t taken his platform shoe-clad foot off the gas since he rocked his way to fame nearly five decades ago!
It takes moxie to remain relevant in the all-too-fickle world of entertainment, and Simmons has it. Here’s how:
Moxie is an outsider.
Simmons was born in Israel in 1949 to Flora Klein, a survivor of the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp. She moved to New York with her young son in 1958.
The Beatles arrived on American shores not long after, and young Simmons was transfixed. He wanted the attention and the adulation the young lads from Liverpool enjoyed, and being in a band seemed a fine way to get it. He taught himself to play guitar and began the long journey of forming and reforming bands that would lead him to co-found KISS in the early 1970s.
The band wasn’t the only thing that took shape during that time. Simmons’ confident personality was also taking shape.
“I’m an only child, so maybe that helps me in my being the ultimate fan of me,” Simmons told the “Three Sides of the Coin” podcast. “I know that sometimes sounds cocky and self-serving and stuff like that, but that’s really the only way I was able to overcome any problems I had coming to America, not being able to speak English, just feeling like an outsider.”
It makes sense that he was drawn to rock music, the ultimate expression of an outsider’s quest for acceptance and respect. It takes moxie to go from outsider to alpha, and Simmons has it!
Moxie puts on a show.
When KISS arrived on the rock music scene, the landscape was already crowded with acts that experimented with costumes, makeup, and wild stage antics. Alice Cooper was out there getting guillotined every night, and Ozzy Osbourne was doing unspeakable things to bats. Simmons and his KISS bandmates needed to do something over the top to stand out.
“At the same time that we were forming in New York, there was a gigantic glitter scene, where boys were basically acting like girls and putting on makeup,” Gene Simmons recalled. “Y’know, all the skinny little guys, hairless boys. Well, we were more like football players; all of us were over 6 feet tall, and it just wasn’t convincing! In the first pictures we took when the band first got together, we looked like drag queens. But we knew we wanted to get outlandish.”
Simmons, a long time comic book fan, remembers standing in front of a mirror one day and just starting to draw on his own face. What emerged was The Demon, a character he would continue to build and elaborate on until it reached fire-breathing, chains and leather, platformed shoe glory a decade later. The Demon was joined on stage by the Catman, Starchild, and Spaceman.
For Simmons, the elaborate costumes and makeup were about more than marketing.
“Getting up on stage was almost a holy place for us, like church, so being on stage looking like a bum wasn’t my idea of respect. That’s where the makeup and dressing up came in,” he told the magazine.
Simmons and KISS had the moxie to elevate their show above anything else going on in entertainment and take their audience along with them on a wild ride.
Moxie has something to say!
Simmons might not top the charts anymore, but he finds a way to stay top of mind.
For example, KISS has two logo versions:
- One for countries that do NOT outlaw Nazi symbols-
- One for countries that DO outlaw Nazi Symbols-(such as Germany, Austria, Israel)
Google his name, and you’ll find lots of recent references to statements he’s made on everything from wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID to the passing of Eddie Van Halen.
You see, for a man like Gene, it’s not enough to list his mansions for sale; he’s also got to tell you he is doing it because taxes in Beverly Hills are just too high. He’s a frequent and fascinating radio talk show guest.
In August 2014, Simmons made comments in an interview with Songfacts.com, after the apparent suicide of comedic legend Robin Williams, that seemed to openly encourage people with depression to kill themselves. In turn, many radio stations began to pull KISS’ songs on their playlists, and Simmons later apologized AND clarified his comments as follows: “I was wrong and in the spur of the moment made remarks that in hindsight were made without regard for those who truly suffer the struggles of depression. I sincerely apologize to those who were offended by my comments. I recognize that depression is very serious and very sad when it happens to anyone, especially loved ones. I deeply support and am empathetic to anyone suffering from any disease, especially depression.”
Simmons has something interesting to say about just about everything, and he will say just about anything. That puts him in my top tier of dream guests. Maybe when Louder than Life returns?
Not to mention, only someone with the level of Moxie that Gene Simmons has displayed throughout his high-profile life would marry one of the MOST successful actresses of mainstream erotica, Canadian actress and model Shannon Tweed, see them below.
GENE SIMMONS’ WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Simmons
KISS (The Band)’s WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_(band)
SHANNON TWEED’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_Tweed
If I ever get the chance to interview Simmons, what should I ask?