Friday, January 11, 2013

FLASHBACK BOOK REVIEW: Gene Simmons - "Kiss and Make-Up"

Last October I reviewed "MAKEUP TO BREAKUP: My Life In And Out Of Kiss" by Peter Criss. It's the latest in a long line of tell-alls based on the iconic rock band, KISS. You can read my complete review HERE. Although I realize that these books typically have more to do with settling personal scores than simply telling good stories, I still was entertained by the founding drummer's memoir. And I thought that I'd written a fairly even-handed, snappy and compelling review. However, a certain ex-wife of a particular KISS member was less than enthusiastic about my comments. In fact, she was so incensed that she reached out to me in a personal email in which she referred to my review as "garbage." OUCH! Her words were particularly stinging as I felt that we recently had been developing a bit of an email friendship. I then began to reflect on a few other KISS related books that I've read over the years — C.K. Lendt's "Kiss and Sell" and "Kiss Alive Forever" by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs being the best of the bunch. I also enjoyed both books from KISS' co-founding frontman, Gene Simmons — "Sex Money Kiss" (2003) and "Kiss and Make-Up" (2002). I recently discovered this old review of the latter that I'd written for a print music magazine shortly after the book's release a decade ago. Ex-wives — enjoy!

Kiss and Make-Up
- Gene Simmons -

To some, he's a god.
To others, he's a devil.
But one thing can't be
denied. Gene Simmons
IS a superstar. And
his autobiography,
Kiss and Make-Up,
shines a bright light
on the story of a boy
from Israel who
came to America
with a dream —
really BIG dream. 

Anybody who knows me, knows that I'm one of the world's biggest KISS fans. In fact, I'm such a faithful follower that I actually felt somewhat honored when I was about  20 and Gene Simmons threatened to knock me out at a bar in Lakeland, Florida during KISS' 1983 Lick it Up tour. It's a long story, but let's just say that I was very young at the time — I possessed limited people skills and probably needed to be put in my place. However, in my defense, I will say that the larger-than-life rock star did have his hand up my fiancée's skirt at that moment and well, like I said, it's a long story.

Anyway, the point is, even for as big of a fan as I am, I still found Kiss and Make-Up to be an informative and highly entertaining read. And although the book reveals plenty of dirt on one of rock's greatest bands, it also tells a compelling personal story of a poor, eight-year-old kid who emigrated from Israel with his mother and ultimately achieved the American Dream.

When he first arrived in this country as Chaim Witz in the 1950s, Simmons couldn't speak a word of English. Perhaps it was due to his mother's experiences in Nazi concentration camps or her struggles as a single parent, but early on he developed  essential survival skills, a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed.

Simmons quickly fell in love with all things American — TV, comic books, music and movies. He promised his mother that he always would have something to "fall back" on in life, so he went to college and earned several degrees before completely pursuing his rock and roll dream.

From there, Kiss and Make-Up is filled with salacious accounts of Simmons' outrageous rock and roll  life — most of which involve his favorite pastime, "chasing skirt." Big girls and little girls, fat girls and thin girls, younger and older — if you're a (legal age) female with a pulse, Gene Simmons wants to give you his room number.

Of course Kiss and Make-Up also contains KISS-related-dish that most fans won't believe and many  may not want to read. But as Simmons' puts it, the book contains "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." While that may be, I'd still be curious to compare notes if and when Paul Stanley publishes his story.

-Christopher Long
(January 2003)

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  1. For me the Simmons book was a big dissapointment. Why? Why cant the people who have been following the band for years get the good stuff?
    The good stuff: stories about recording sessions, rehearsals etc. I have never needed stories about loose women, drugs, money...I just want a REAL BOOK!

    1. Greetings Anonymous!

      Those types of books do exist, they're just typically not written by the actual band members. To "get the good stuff," I recommended highly C.K. Lendt's "Kiss and Sell" and "Kiss Alive Forever" by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs. Thanks for stopping by. Don't be a stranger.