Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "Makeup to Breakup" by Peter Criss

My Life In And Out Of Kiss
- Peter Criss -
(w/ Larry Sloman)

 Based on the sheer
shock value of his 
stories, KISS' co-
founding drummer 
delivers a winner for 
die-hard enthusiasts.

The latest in the ever-growing pile of insider KISS tell-alls, Makeup to Breakup offers a lively and candid account of founding drummer Peter Criss' wild sex, drugs & rock and roll life — before, during, after, during, after, before, during and then again after his involvement with rock's masked messiahs.

From his humble Italian / Catholic upbringing on the streets of Brooklyn to his meteoric ascent into rock's stratosphere and beyond, Peter Criss describes his outrageous life experiences — warts and all — in graphic detail. He pulls no punches as he seemingly drops a dime on everyone he's encountered over the years — including himself and the three other original KISS members. By his own admission, we learn that Criss deals with some serious anger issues. Founding lead guitarist Ace Frehley is portrayed as a Nazi-obsessed chronic masturbater. Co-founder and bassist Gene Simmons reportedly is such a sex-addicted maniac that during particularly severe flare-ups, herpes sores can cover most of his body. And Criss further claims that frontman Paul Stanley has wrestled with lifelong sexual orientation issues.

Despite his willingness to come clean regarding personal demons (i.e. infidelity, wife beating, drugs and alcohol), Criss' scale of judgment is often unbalanced. He openly questions Paul Stanley's sexuality early in the story, revealing the frontman's unique talent for creating detailed drawings of penises. Yet his own, more disturbing behavior, as well as that of Ace Frehley gets a pass: Ace and I became famous for taking out our dicks at the drop of a hat. Then we'd grab each other's dicks. It wasn't sexual, just stupid adolescent tomfoolery. What? Not sexual? Hang on there, fella. Where I come from that ain't called "tomfoolery," that's called "gay." Not judging — just saying. 

Kiss circa 1976
Criss recounts a particular KISS road story from the mid '70s in which he and Frehley got a young female after-show guest bombed beyond the point of consciousness. They covered the girl with bologna and sandwich condiments, then proceeded to put her seemingly lifeless naked body into the hotel elevator and hit the button for the lobby. It was disturbing tales such as this that made me feel like a dope for having gleefully guzzled so much KISS Kool-Aid for so many years.

I found Criss' conversational, no-nonsense style to be quite engaging. However, I was a bit disappointed that such a successful and talented (66-year-old) man still resorts to juvenile name-calling. I believe that referring to people as "fags" and "whores" and prefacing every reference to Simmons and Stanley with, "those pricks" or "those fuck faces," only compromises Criss' credibility. And his countless references to women as "pussy" was insulting and just plain creepy. That type of language was crass even back in the '70s.

I can only imagine that jamming a near 50-year career into 370 pages was no easy feat. Hence, Criss' story is fast-paced and he often quickly glosses over prime eras. And although Criss did successfully touch on most aspects of his life, many holes remained in his story. Jeanette Frehley receives "special thanks" in the Acknowledgments, but she is only briefly referenced one time in the rest of the book. I'd be interested in gaining further insight into their friendship. Clearly Criss enjoyed close personal relationships with KISS manager Bill Aucoin, Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart and songwriter / producer Sean Delaney — key players in the KISS story who all died way too young. However, Criss makes no mention of their passing. And if Paul McCartney had rescued me during any kind of accident, I certainly would have devoted more than a casual, one paragraph description of the experience. But I commend Criss for taking the time to give credit where it's due — shining light on the creative contributions of Aucoin and Delaney. 

Peter Criss with my son, Jesse.
It seems that perhaps the greatest source of darkness in Criss' life was, and may continue to be, not  the sex, drugs or the rock and roll, but the emotional damage caused by religion. Guilt, condemnation and punishment, was beat into him practically from birth by priests, nuns and even well-intending family members.

Fortunately, Jesus Christ served as THE ultimate, perfect and final sacrifice. He paid for ALL sins — past, present and future when the religious people of his day crucified him.

The ONLY way to the Father is through the Son (JOHN 3:16 / 1 JOHN 5:12). Rosaries do nothing. And I certainly mean no disrespect, but praying to Mary is as effective as praying to an Ace Frehley action figure. That's all a product of man-made religion. What I'm talking about is relationship — a unique and personal connection with God the Father through his Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is the greatest gift ever offered to man. It's available to us ALL — and it's absolutely FREE!

And contrary to Criss' assertions, God does NOT place cancer or any sickness on people for any reason. To think otherwise is to buy into more religion — another lie sent straight from the pit of Hell. I'd be delighted to offer encouragement, inspiration and guidance based on the Word of God to anyone in need. I'm easily accessible:

In sum, Peter Criss exceeded my expectations. Makeup to Breakup is a highly entertaining read throughout. And although many aspects of Criss' story are certainly disturbing, Makeup to Breakup stands out as perhaps the second-best of the KISS bios — right behind CK Lendt's Kiss and Sell.

-Christopher Long
(October 2012)



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  1. THanks for a great, insightful review. I love some of your line concerning Ace and Peter's "tomfoolery" - still laughing over that.

    1. Ah yes, "tomfoolery," indeed!

      Thanks for stopping by and saying, "Hi."


  2. Hi Chris,
    Got and read Criss's book for my recent birthday.
    Read Ace's recent book too.
    I have to agree with your assessment on Criss's focus and moments of hypocrisy. I like the way you tied in the real Gospel at the end, in contrast with Criss's brand of "faith." Excellent.

    Still, it was Criss and Frehley primarily that began my journey into rock... and made me open to hear VH when they hit the scene.
    When we were kids, we saw the costumes, makeup, and stupidly catchy riffs/hooks and couldn't help but fall in line! Ha!
    I had no clue how depraved the whole scene was.

    Keep on doing what you're doing! Love it.

    1. Thanks Kerry! Great hearing from you. Keep in touch.


  3. I will never forget January 26,1976 at Cobo Arena in Detroit,MI. My life changed
    when I saw KISS. Sad that they are such assholes. And Peter Criss's book proves
    him to be the biggest asshole. The way he blabbers on you'd think he was the
    only one with any talent. His solo stuff STINKS, the man can't sing, and his drumming
    is good, but not anything your average Joe Schmoe can't do. And you're right Chris,
    his juvenile name calling and "pussy" references place him in the thoroughly uneveolved
    Dumb Goobah category. Thanks for a great review.

    1. Ah yes, Cobo Hall / January '76 -- I think that I still have that show laying around on VHS somewhere. A classic KISS performance, indeed. Thanks for stopping by, "Anonymous," and for offering such passionate commentary. We're pretty much in agreement on this one. Don't be a stranger!


  4. I got your KISS vhs Cobo Hall 76 tape you left at My Grant House house back in the Glitter dollz days if you need it back I can drop it off at Siggys and tell them to give it to you ----Phil Ferraro

  5. It's all yours, Phil!

    Great hearing from you. I hope you and the fam are doing well.


  6. Thanks Chris! All is well! Cant wait to get your New Book!God Bless -Phil

  7. Lydia Criss disputes large sections of this book, as has Gene Simmons. I would take Lydia's word on any of the stories related to her in Peter's book - she has been widely said to be very reliable. Setting aside the fanboys who can see no wrong by any member of KISS, many of the reviews on Amazon were highly negative of this book.

    1. Thanks, Brian. I agree with your points. You're a welcomed guest here anytime!