Exploiting the Archives: The Kiss disses
I have a whole lot of history with the rock and roll band Kiss, pretty much all of it negative. For whatever reason, I've always been immune to its tacky, vulgar carnivalesque charm, and as my two books and countless articles about Insane Clown Posse illustrate, I’m a bit of a sucker for tacky, vulgar, carnivalesque endeavors.
I suspect the reason Kiss has never done it for me is because the boys are such uber-masculine capitalists. I prefer my oddballs to be scruffy underdogs, not cynical opportunists. Of course it does not help that one of my first big interviews for The A.V Club was with Gene Simmons. The way interviews work, generally, is that a time and date is hammered down by a publicist that is amenable to both interviewer and interviewee, and then the interview is conducted at its pre-ordained time and date.
That’s not how Gene Simmons rolls. No, I was told that Gene Simmons would call me at some point in the month ahead, either day or night, and then it was incumbent upon me to be prepared for whenever Simmons decided he wanted to chit-chat with me, a 23 year old college senior who was extremely easy to intimidate. Simmons was probably the single most unpleasant person I’ve ever interviewed, as you can probably tell from the article that ensued: https://www.avclub.com/gene-simmons-1798208214
Many years later, I reviewed Simmons’ memoir for Silly Little Show-Biz Book Club and, not surprisingly, found it to be hot garbage. You can read the article here: https://www.avclub.com/gene-simmons-kiss-and-make-up-lets-the-demon-speak-for-1798235404
I was much more impressed with Peter Criss’ memoir, which was outrageous, oversexed and impossible to believe even for a Kiss memoir. I would recommend it to anyone with a taste for rock and roll sleaze, not just Kiss fans. It’s one of the craziest rock and roll autobiographies I’ve ever read, and I have read more than my share. Check it out here: https://www.avclub.com/the-memoir-of-kiss-drummer-peter-criss-is-endearingly-n-1798235245
I had high hopes for legendary loon ball and Space Man Ace Frehley, but found his memoir to be a distinct disappointment: https://www.avclub.com/spaceman-ace-frehley-offers-his-bland-version-of-kiss-1798236027
Speaking of the individual members of Kiss, I covered all four of their solo albums for a single over-stuffed My World of Flops Case File and found myself digging only the Paul Stanley joint, although Ace’s “New York Groove” remains a timeless classic: https://music.avclub.com/gene-paul-ace-and-peter-case-file-57-the-1978-kiss-1798245682
While I was at it, I wrote up Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, the group’s legendarily bungled TV movie vehicle, for My World of Flops: https://tv.avclub.com/kiss-army-awol-case-file-51-kiss-meets-the-phantom-of-1798287497
Finally, I used My World of Flops to deep-dive into Kiss’ muddled concept album, Music from The Elder https://music.avclub.com/on-the-wings-of-pretension-case-file-5-kiss-music-fr-1798229091
Am I done with my adventures in Kisstory? Probably not. I’ve got Paul Stanley’s memoir, which I’ll probably cover for the Literature Society because my OCD brain will not be happy until I review every last memoir by a band I respect more than I like, and don’t even particularly respect.
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