I’m nearly still scared to admit how much the sheer sight of these men turned me on. I’d never seen anything like it, and haven’t yet seen similar since then. But I remember the day like it was yesterday. The news, the media, those respectable people that we all looked towards for guidance had been reporting on a new rock band that was pushing the envelope of acceptability.
…the band was quickly gaining a reputation as a top-flight live act. Kiss concerts featured things such as Simmons spitting “blood” (primarily raw eggs and food coloring) or “breathing fire” (spitting flammable liquid at a torch); Frehley soloing as his guitar burst into flames (light and smoke bombs placed inside the guitar); Criss’s elevating drum riser that emitted sparks; Stanley’s Townshend-style guitar smashing; and pyrotechnics throughout the show.
KISS was a rock band formed during my birth month (Jan) in my place of birth (Queens, NY) in the year 1973 (my birth year) so you couldn’t tell me there wasn’t some implied connection between me and this flamboyant all male band. My mother feared for my soul, and promptly forbade me view or listen to any KISS music or else I was going straight to Hell (yet, again).
The band’s name has repeatedly been the subject of many rumors pertaining to its alleged hidden meanings. Among these rumors are claims that the name is an acronym for “Knights In Satan’s Service”, “Kinder SS”, or “Kids In Satan’s Service”. These claims have been denied by Simmons himself.
THIS time, it was worse, as you can see, the official KISS logo contains SS’s shaped like lightning bolts that were intended to distract you from their similarity to the font used in Nazi propaganda. My mother picked up on the implications of the font, and of the flames and the backward letter’s only made her believe I was on a pathway to damnation, and this band would be playing when I got there.
I wasn’t sure what the fear was (since I was forbidden to rest my virgin eyes/ears upon them and my parents shared similar views to those parents among my private school peers making it nearly impossible to get familiar with the group elsewhere) but I did know that there was something inherently devilish about the one member’s long, pink, tongue.
I caught the infamous Gene Simmons tongue flick one night when the news reported on some demonstration or public push back and the feeling it caused it me made me, too, fear for my soul from eternal damnation. My body got real hot, and I had the first (of what would be come a lifetime of) impure thought related to a flicking tongue.
Meanwhile, on the other site of my subconscious, I was currently developing an affection for men wearing spandex and outlandish clothing. The larger than life image that was often used for KISS did nothing more than create a kid who would grow into a woman 0f color that enjoys role play, Cos-play, mysticism, and anything involving extreme costumes. Awesome boots and unique footwear is still a very precious interest of mine. My shoe game is crazy, and yes, I was inspired by Jewish men from Queens, go figure.
Flaming guitars are awesome. My Dad played base guitar but he played the blues and his instrument didn’t shoot out sparks from the arms but Ace Frehley’s did. This is about the point in time where I decided that I liked what fire looked like and began a short stint as a pyromaniac. You may think the recent Youtube videos of young people setting themselves on fire is a brand new thing but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t.
Alas, fire is exciting. Deal with it.
Kiss concerts featured things such as Simmons spitting “blood” (primarily raw eggs and food coloring) or “breathing fire” (spitting flammable liquid at a torch); Frehley soloing as his guitar burst into flames (light and smoke bombs placed inside the guitar); Criss’s elevating drum riser that emitted sparks; Stanley’s Townshend-style guitar smashing; and pyrotechnics throughout the show.
Once my mother read about the band’s levitation trick during shows she feared for my well being so much so that she stopped even mentioning the group. I clearly recall one evening when the local new’s had reported something about the band’s show where they featured video of the infamous drum levitation.
My eyes popped out of my head (magic is real…I KNEW IT) and my mother’s, though her reaction was followed by attempting to cut the television off so far that she accidentally knocked it backward and then forward onto the floor with the screen broke into a million pieces. Tiny streams of smoke emitted from the cracks in the piece of useless electronics, my Dad hurried into the kitchen and didn’t know what to make of the situation.
All my mother could do was look stunned since there was now no television to show him the fuck*ry that is known as KISS and now dare those white folks allow such evil on television was beyond her. Dad was more open minded and I’m not even sure if he knew what she was talking about and if he did, I’m positive he wouldn’t have cared much.
Try as she may, she wouldn’t be able to keep me away from KISS or the love that grew from my curiosity of them spurned on by my mother’s insistence that I know nothing about them. She may have broken one television but she couldn’t stop the KISS merchandise, cartoons, animated characters, and musical/artistic influence to pop culture left by this group. My apologies for not mentioning any of their music, but I wasn’t familiar with their actual albums.
Nope, KISS only exists in my mind as naughty thought fodder and my very first experience with being incited by the unknown. So what this band was made up of four white Jewish guys from Queens? Jewish boys from Queens have awesome crotch imprints, long tongues, and are brazen enough to wear makeup while channeling cats, demons, and foxes. If that’s not enough to leave a lasting memory on a girl, I don’t know what is.
KISS then without makeup, they weren’t too shabby either.
And due to what I think was the public’s confusion and fear, the band just received an induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as of 2013, which is long over due. The band still makes appearances together and is schedule to go on tour during 2014 with the group Def Leopard. They just made the cover of Rolling Stones magazine for the first time in April 2014. I’m glad to see these artistic icons finally getting the recognition that is their due. I’ll always and forever be a fan of the boys from Queens who wear high heels, my favorite will always and forever be Gene Simmons though Paul Stanley, too, can get….never mind.