A few last thoughts about KISS:

  • One of their books (Ace, I think) accuses Paul of dressing up in a suit and tie and trying to act all professional in business meetings, but quickly getting bored and doodling large, veiny dicks all over his note pad. This would happen, Ace wrote, at every single meeting for years and years. That fact makes me so happy, I couldn’t give a single shit whether or not it’s true.
  • And Gene would also be in a suit and have a briefcase with just crackers in it. And Ace would sit there with a tall boy, and he  was the asshole?
  • The Dead also released solo albums on the same day, except it was the Dead, so instead of the same day, it was over the course of a few years, plus some of the albums never got released, and Phil forgot to make his.
  • Having read all four of the original members’ autobiographies (there will almost definitely not be a Bruce Kulick book), and ones from the former manager, and tour manager, and accountant, and the recent authorized oral history, I can confirm very few things. Here are some: Gene absolutely refused to get naked in front of everyone else, Ace banged several (at least) dudes, Peter was the weak link in every way available to him, and Paul will cut a bitch.
  • Seriously: Paul’s the bad guy. Gene is Donald Trump; Paul is the human-trafficking/arms-dealing billionaire whose name you wouldn’t recognize. Gene is Darth Vader; Paul is the Emperor.
  • The Sex Pistols closed out 1977 at Winterland. KISS had played there the previous December. Politics and importance, maaaan, aside: only one of the bands were actually entertaining.
  • Also from Ace’s book, his thoughts on John Belushi  “We were both famous, and we both loved music and comedy, and we both enjoyed getting fucked up.” Then Ace is summoned to a Blue Brothers concert to give Belushi a pep talk in an anecdote that almost certainly did not actually take place.
  • The Dead often hired ne’er-do-well family members, obvious hucksters, and Hamburglars to manage their finances, but KISS once signed on with Paul’s former psychiatrist, who in short order: fucked up the books, stole all the money, faked his own death, and became an international fugitive. That is high-level rock star crazy bullshit right there.
  • Peter has an enormous penis, about which there are many stories; he will share them all with you, if you like.
  • One of the two of us has seen pretty much every episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Is it you? No? Oh, right: it’s me.
  • Credit the Dead with professionalism: for all the felonies and capers, none of them was ever so regularly tardy that a backup musician in a costume had to be employed as an emergency measure. KISS had to–on numerous occasions–grab a drum tech and dress him up like a clown/kitten because one of the intolerable ones  had missed seven planes in a row again.
  • Ace and Peter were the intolerable ones; Gene and Paul were the unbearable ones.
  • One time–and this is something being kept from you by not only Big Dead, but by Big KISS as well–Gene and Paul explored the possibility of writing with Hunter. They weren’t Hunter’s thing, as you might guess, but he was reading a lot of Buddhist stuff and was doing the whole openness deal and–hey, whatever you thought of their music, they were selling a lot of records lately and a couple bucks could never hurt, so when they called, Hunter picked up the phone. He asked Gene and Paul whether they had any ideas for lyrics, or a theme. They said, “The song should be about pussy,” and Hunter pretended that there was a bad connection, but there wasn’t, and he hung up the phone.
  • There has been, and quite possibly will never be, a full recounting on what’s going on with Gene’s head. Lately, he’s been pretending to have a sense of humor about it, but he has absolutely no sense of humor about it whatsoever.
  • Out of the four of them, Ace seems like the only one it might be at all pleasant to spend an afternoon with, as long as you had your own ride or cab fare or nowhere to go. And Ace wasn’t waving his guns around. (Ace would assuredly be waving his guns around.)
  • Ace and Peter deserved to get thrown out of not just the band, but maybe even the country: their behavior was so fucked-up that they should have been stripped of the citizenship and forcibly expatriated. Showing up reasonably on time, reasonably sober is doable. It’s doable.
  • Bobby could do a real nice acoustic Hard Luck Woman.
  • KISS could maybe handle Bertha, but that was pushing it.
  • Their road crews were both equally large and psychotic and feared and well-practiced at violence: a clash would have pitted city boys vs. country boys and would have been instigated by Billy.
  • Speaking of Billy, we’re talking about a man who, during every full moon in 1981 and half of ’82, would dress up like a werewolf and run around biting the shit out of people. He would break the skin; it was awful, and yet when the bus left the hotel at one o’clock, Billy was on it. That’s the thing Ace and Peter couldn’t handle. Not even on their own: there were people who got paid to lead them from place to place, and they still couldn’t show up anywhere vaguely on time. That takes doing: Ace and Peter were more dedicated to being bad at their jobs than most people are at being good at theirs.
  • Paul takes up painting to help him get through a divorce because of course he does.
  • Any second now, an art dealer is going to realize that Gene’s collection of Polaroids is as valid as cultural history of the times as anything else and it’s going to be unbearable.