Page 8   R A.T.W.


Fulfilling the Ultraism of the•

Steadily, rapidly, and undeniably, the past two

years have nurtured

Kiss-ticism to become

the newest Eastern religion. Branches of the Kiss Army (a fan club) have broken out through out the country; it’s enlistees, hoards of overzealous minitroopers whose anthem is to

rock-and-roll-all-night-and-party-every-day. The reality of Kiss-teria has found some folk astounded, outraged, even reduced to quibbling disbelief. Conversely, many are enchanted, tantalized, spellbound. Whatever people choose as their opinion, Kiss culls reaction from the gut of their listeners/spectators. So these people talk, and meanwhile, all of the controversy is building Kiss to a standard bousebo name.

   ne pre   brie days the rock market became saturated with the sixties-demi-God-image of cutesy, skinny Englishmen performing updated American rock and roll. Face it, everyone was crying for something, ANYthing new, exciting, invigorating. Then along came Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, with visions of creating four new super-heroes to channel through a different media—the rock media. The music (interestingly, in direct contrast to the Sixties), is derivative of the English hard rocking sort, simply musicians playing their interpretation of what they grew up on. It’s the full-bodied animated cartoon supermen. who, to the minds of the Seventies rockers, unlike the television images, are alive, human, and can actually be seen in action at a concert. Imagine how it must excite these kids to be given the chance to see a live, onstage, hour and a half cartoon show.

Through this ruse, Kiss members may well earn immortality. The combination of the group’s undeveloped visions, their management, record company and publicist’s ingenuity, has enabled Kiss to reach
   markets prey:   untouched by rock. Marvel Comics, for instance, has r ked up on the group, and will soon have a comic series on the stands, beginning with a fullsized color magazine. The possibilities are limitless, as imagination is the ultimate infinite. Perhaps the Japanese will make a new movie, “Kiss Meets King Kong,” or Hershey’s Kiss-es, maybe? The group is currently working out ideas for their own full length film, to be titled, “The Smell Of The Crowd, The Roar Of The Greasepaint,” which, says Simmons, will be completely surrealistic, with nothing directly related to rock, no plot or methods, just one hundred percent fantasy and fun. “Trix are for kids,” Simmons declares, “Don’t make rock and roll grow up . . .”

And what of all this insanity? Where are these guys coming from? That libidinous and menacing vampire, bassist Simmons, has an interesting story. “My ancestry comes from Jang, Hungary, right outside of the Carpithian Mountains (the area known as Transylvania). I speak fluent Hungarian, and grew up with an intrigue in all that mythology. Besides, I have always been enchanted by someone who could live forever.” For Gene, who word has it, at one time taught school, this is a dream well on its way to solidity, with astounding profitable realism. Do you recall sitting glued to the television to watch the Bela Lagusa/Werewolf/Mummy horror flicks? (Simmons: “Go ahead, ask me anything about any horror movie . . .”). Remember build-it-yourself Frankenstein models that glowed in the dark? Hints of adolescent psychology come to light the

more Kiss-ticism is examined. Paul Stanley, rhythm guitarist, lead singer and general spokesman, simply wanted his character to have appeal to all, and has-since been tagged “ambisexual.” “That’s not exactly what I aimed for. I feel there is too much emphasis placed on appeal to the opposite sex, after all, it is not only women who are fans. I just want to give everyone as much as they give me,” explains Paul. Onstage, Stanley has full command of the rampant and frenzied crowd. It seems questionable that he can keep all this energy under control. “When people believe in you, they give themselves to you. In a panic situation of any type, if there is no leader, it’s suicide.” To look into a crowd of ten thousand or better to realize they are singing gleefully, the words to the tunes they have written, and to see those little faces painted Kiss style, is absolute confirmation of that idolized leadership.

Peter Criss, the stealthy, cat-man drummer, obviously likes his newfounded successful character. Criss became a Kiss member via an ad in a newspaper, ‘Professional drummer wants to make it—will do anything’. Criss is a good drummer, the group’s musicians’ musician. He is quite introspective, the soft-but-wary-as-a-pussy sort of man, as reflected by his debut song as a Kiss. “Beth” is the song’s name, from the “Destroyer” LP, a fully orchestrated love ballad, with Criss the solo vocalist. Again, this tune has stirred a lot of controversy as it is highly unrepresentative of the group’s usual brazen audio assault. But in fact, that this one even appeared on the LP is proof of the group’s stability with their fans, and opens mirrored doorways for musical expansion.

And over on stage left, Ace Frehley floats around with an ever-present aura of glazed detachment. From his state of suspended animation, Frehley speaks through his lead guitar allowing the instrument to beckon whine and coerce as he plays ever-so-nimbly. In concert, it may be difficult to hear Ace’s ability, but back to “Destroyer,” the cut entitled “Sweet Pain,” has a short solo which demonstrates honest talent. It is almost gentle.

Each Kiss character is defined, in a nutshell, by hand-written notes (which they say they wrote themselves), on the inside flap of “Alive”. The way the musicians view their images is, by no stretch, the way people over 20 (with the exception of their fans) see them. They had a lot of trouble at first illustrating what they are. Right until the moment their first publicity photos were shot, Casablanca, especially with Kiss being their first act, begged the band to abandon the make up and outlandish garb. It is hard, at times, to see beyond a budget. But the group and manager Bill Aucoin had enough insight to pull out their ray-guns in defense of the fiction. It is only since the success of “Alive” (platinum),

that the group is able to dictate the who’s, when’s, and how’s of LP releases. Since then has been “Destroyer,” by far the most mellifluous and piquant of their five. With the lunatic genius of producer Bob Ezrin to add some clear polish to the vinyl, “Destroyer” has more diversity and general appeal than the previous albums.

Kiss now sports, several gold and platinum discs in many countries, some of which they have yet to visit. Every concert is invariably a sellout, and the tidal wave is, at this moment, crashing upon U.K. and European shores. Kiss gets ’em while they’re young, and have done it despite the cynical press which the kids really don’t read anyhow. Though it is certain that the group members are relieved by the success, remember that the intensity of the swoop would not have been possible if the musicians were not into it. They know what they want

from a show, and give it to their fans. How many bands today would go to a High School Homecoming Celebration, even if the school did choose the group as the theme that year, and not only pose for photos on the football field, with the marching band, with

TINY kids, and then get up onstage and play a full show? This is the group’s fantasy as well, immortality, superstardom, with the added advantage of non-recognition on the streets. It’s the time of their life. Oozes Simmons, “Ever since I came out of the womb, I wanted to suck. Sucking became a time consuming occupation with me, starting with thumbs, that as I grew older, I got into bigger and wetter things.” Believe it, as Simmons is the only group member to travel under his own name. “I like getting calls from the ‘local talent.’ They call me in my room and ask if my tongue is sticking out, or if my make-up is on. That really gets me offl A star is only as big as the fans think he is. For them, being close to a star is like touching something unreal. I like to let them live their fantasies, too.” (the next time someone tells you that fantasies should remain just that tell them to Kiss-off . . .)

Donna Goldsmith