KISS400 Steve Appleford of the L.A. Times reports:

The sideshow at Dodger Stadium is about to begin as Paul Stanley emerges from his backstage trailer, shirtless and in full kabuki drag: bright red lips, his face painted harlequin white, a black star over his right eye. The singer-guitarist is here to perform with his band KISS but hears his name and walks over to a crowd gathered at the fence.

“Arriba!” yells one fan, and Stanley reaches over to shake hands, as dozens of cellphones take snapshots. “Let me see your shoes!” shouts another, and Stanley half-climbs the fence to swing a tasseled silver-and-black platform boot over the top. “Thanks, Paul!”

In less than an hour, Stanley and his musical partner of four decades, Gene Simmons, will lead KISS through two short sets of hooks and hard rock riffs as halftime entertainment for an ice hockey game between the Kings and the Ducks. It’s another strange gig in the ongoing saga of KISS, which long ago evolved from band to lucrative brand, ready for high-profile special events, reality TV and cradle-to-grave business ventures in the form of KISS Hello Kitty Dolls, KISS comics, books, T-shirts, action figures and restaurants as well as KISS caskets and KISS urns.

In one more way, 2014 could be the band’s most surprising year since its initial 1970s pop culture explosion, beginning with KISS’ induction April 10th into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It welcomes the hard-rock quartet into the critical pantheon that has at times violently rejected KISS and acknowledges the band’s huge impact on rock spectacle.

“I still believe the heart and soul of this is a band. The music is imperative,” says Stanley, who has produced the last two KISS albums and next month releases an autobiography, “Face the Music: A Life Exposed.” “Maybe our horizons are broader because we have an opportunity to go other places. Why not? Whether it’s a football team or restaurants, people say that’s not rock ‘n’ roll. Let me tell you what’s rock ‘n’ roll: Winning is rock ‘n’ roll.”

Being voted into the Hall of Fame is a victory that comes 15 years after the band’s initial eligibility and annual outrage from fans. But next month’s ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn also means dealing with old wounds and complications that began with the final exit of founding guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss more than a dozen years ago. In their place ever since are lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, 53, and drummer Eric Singer, 55, who both wear the makeup designs of their predecessors (designs owned by Simmons and Stanley).

“The naysayers, and some of them are loud, talk about Tommy or Eric being impostors. I think an impostor is a guy up there doing it for a paycheck,” says Stanley, back in his trailer and now dressed in his full stage regalia, with black feathers on his shoulders and medallions over his chest of a guitar pick, a feather, a star. “We’ve never been happier.”

Any hopes for a reunion in makeup of the four founding members at the Hall of Fame ceremony ended last week with a band decision to not perform in any capacity. A statement on the KISS website read: “This is understandably an emotional situation where there is no way to please everyone.”

Negotiations with the Hall of Fame stalled, say Simmons and Stanley, who wanted to include Singer and Thayer, while the Rock Hall wanted a reunion of the original quartet in makeup.

“Imagine getting onstage and playing with a lineup that does not exist,” says Simmons, 64, comparing the situation to a forced reunion with an ex-spouse. Both have bad memories of years of substance abuse by their former partners but say they are happy and proud to accept the award with the former members. Putting the original quartet in makeup was “a nonstarter,” says Stanley.

Simmons and Stanley questioned whether the former members were up to performing. Reached via email, both Criss and Frehley are working on solo albums and say their problems with drinks and drugs are behind them. Frehley has been sober for seven years.

“We should of been able to work it out as grown men; it’s a shame we couldn’t,” writes Criss, who also survived a 2007 breast cancer scare.

“My guitar playing, singing, writing, performing and producing skills are as good or better than the past,” Frehley writes. “For years, Gene and Paul have been trying to minimize my contributions to the band, even though I designed the famous KISS logo … and designed the trademarked makeup for the Spaceman character.”

All four said they were open to joining the night’s traditional jam session at the end of the night. “That’s what the celebration is all about,” Frehley writes.

Long before being voted into the Rock Hall as a band, Simmons and Stanley were outspoken critics of the rock institution and its rules. “We had issues before this happened. It doesn’t turn into a love fest now,” says Stanley, but acknowledged, “There are some people who are angry or hurt by this, and I don’t want to see that.”

The controversies over the Hall of Fame and newer members wearing classic makeup are issues mainly for older fans with an emotional attachment to the original band. [Bassist Gene] Simmons calls up a photo on his computer from a stadium show in Stockholm, then another from Lima, Peru. Both show ecstatic young fans in the front rows.

“Can you see the faces? That’s about 90,000,” he says of the crowd. “You see a bald head in there? You think they … about Ace and Peter? They’re going, ‘Who?’ We’ve been around 40 years, and only two members stayed there the whole time, never quit, no drugs, no booze. KISS is bigger than anybody in the band.”

Read more at the L.A. Times.

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  • George St Geegland on

    Ace was quoted as saying that he designed the makeup for the “spaceman character”. Character. CHARACTER!!! Did you read that, Trunk? CHARACTER !!!!!

    • Eddie on

      Right, THAT HE DESIGNED AND WAS AN EXTENSION OF HIM! Joey is out of Slipknot, think think they will give the new guy the same mask?

    • George St Geegland on

      Another inane comparison: Slipknot to Kiss? You’re just grasping at straws to make a point. Look at your calendar, Trunk. It’s not 1977 any more. It’s time to graduate high school and move on.

    • Eddie on

      Your comment is genius telling me to “move on” when I reference a band NOT from 1977. Stunning how much of an issue you seem to have with everything and everybody. And yeah it is so hard to understand the connection between two bands that cover their faces from two different eras? Your constant bashing of everything and every poster on this site is getting old and won’t be tolerated for much longer unless you would like to find a way to make intelligent points instead of your non stop hating.

    • Rick on

      Right on, Eddie. This guy thinks Angus Young or Slipknot can’t be compared to Kiss but never bothers to say what he thinks the difference is, when actually they’re two obvious examples of other artists using costumes to enhance their stage performance (just like Kiss does). He keeps dismissing everyone he disagrees with as “inane” or “ridiculous” without ever explaining WHY he feels that way, because he has no valid arguments to back up his own opinions.

    • KJR on

      Eddie is exactly right. This new KISS line up in make up is a sham and a disgrace to their legacy and hey day which was the 1970s.

    • rob on

      Thanks Eddie..

    • Rick on

      So I suppose you’d be just fine with AC/DC dressing someone else up in Angus Young’s schoolboy outfit? Do you honestly think the “schoolboy” is NOT a “character” but the “spaceman” IS? In both cases, they are unique onstage personas that directly represent the artists that created them, and as such, anyone else portraying that persona is just copying them, period. Kiss has turned into the Village People, where the “characters” are more important than the actual individuals. That wasn’t the case in the 70s (or the 80s and 90s for that matter, when new members were allowed to have their own identities – anybody remember when Eric Singer was blonde?). Kiss used to be a band, now they’re just an “act.” That’s why so many of us who loved the BAND that they were are disgusted by the “act” they’ve become – it isn’t real anymore. But hey, if sincerity and integrity aren’t things you care about, then by all means enjoy the current “version” of “Kiss.”

    • George St Geegland on

      Kiss started out as an “act” and always will be. Breathing fire and spitting blood is part of an act/entertainment, not part of an ordinary musical group. That’s why Don Henley didn’t spit blood or breath fire for the Eagles. And to compare the Spaceman character to Angus Young is utterly ridiculous. You and Trunk need to look at your calendars. It’s not 1977. It’s time to graduate from high school, evolve as a mature adult, and move forward in life.

    • Rick on

      Kiss didn’t start out as an act. Kiss started out as a band WITH an act; now, as I said, they’re just an act, with people performing roles like in a play. Comparing Ace to Angus isn’t ridiculous at all, unless you think Angus walks around dressed like a schoolboy 24/7. It’s a stage costume, exactly like Ace’s spaceman. The hypocrisy of you saying Eddie and myself need to evolve as mature adults is laughable, given the tantrum-like immaturity of your initial post. As Cali said, “How old are you, 15?”

    • Frank on

      You must be a liberal.

    • Cali on

      Geegland: How old are you, 15?

  • John G on

    I think it’s funny: “The Spaceman” and the “Catman.” Revisionist history. Imagine if all bands did this kind of revisionism. We’d have Heart with “The Brunette” and “The Blond.” The Beatles with “The cute one,” “The intellectual rebel,” “the intropective one” and the “happy go-lucky ordinary guy.” Yeah, Lennon gets killed and it’s time to audition a new “intellectual.” KISS needs to market a KISS septic tank, cause they are completely full of …….

    The Who with “Crazy Drummer,” “Drunk Guitarist,” “Blond singer with big voice” and it goes on…..Hilarious.

    • George St Geegland on

      Yes, the design and extension of himself that he did not bother to obtain the rights to.

    • pete lytel on

      You are a moron. Do you think any innocent person wouldve thought they wouldve needed to trademark themselves? Youve had too much sun from the lame kiss Kruise for Koolaide drinkers.

    • DR on

      Sorry Pete. But most people know that Ace and Peter sold their rights, characters, trademarks, and partnership in KISS back in the 80s. So Ace and Peter knew exactly what they were doing.

    • George St Geegland on

      You’re comparing members of a group (the Who) to unique, superhero-like, members of Kiss who wear make-up and costumes? That’s an inane comparison.

    • pete lytel on

      You need to go back to Jonestown and drink some Kiss Koolaide. You are so unreal I actually think you are a troll. Or one of those morons who pay for VIP, go backstage for a photo op and have Tommy and Eric sign DESTROYER. LMAO.

    • John G on

      I’m not a KISS fan anymore but when I was a kid I used to be a pretty passionate one from around ’76 to spring of ’78 or so, cause I really liked some of their songs like “Rock ‘n Roll All Nite” and “Strutter” amongst others. But despite the lame marketing machine that they became from around ’78 onwards, I’d guess that at least a couple of the members at least thought they were a normal band to start. I think most people saw what they really were, which is a money machine, once the lunchboxes, dolls and other lame stuff started coming out. I shouldn’t be surprised that so many “true fans” are finally seeing the light about what this band has stood for, for a very long time. Gene has said it himself in interviews – he did this to get laid and make money. Music came third or fourth.

      But I’m not trying to compare KISS to the Who by any means. And on some levels, you could say that if the RRHOF wasn’t a joke before, they are now by letting KISS in. But that’s another topic for another day. I don’t think KISS belongs in the same building with Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Stones, Who, Pink Floyd, Hendrix and others, but like Eddie’s always said, if you put in Michael Jackson and Madonna, you gotta put KISS in.

      But to anyone with a set of ears, they clearly used a lot of their pyrotechnics to cover up their average musicianship.

    • Doug H on

      This argument about Gene doing this to get laid and make money and not being about the music is lame to me. Isn’t that what all Rock n Roll artists want? to be rich , famous and get laid? Music is the vehicle that gets them their! Kiss wanted from the start to be the biggest band in the world, they created an act/gimmick that was cool and the music along with the act pushed them to greatness. If the music was not good, and it meant nothing, they would have never reached the stratosphere . Fans can see through the BS,,,,the fact is The music backed up their act and they made good music. They never claimed to be the greatest musicians on earth, they made catchy Hard Rock and later on some decent heavy metal. Ace Frehley has arguably influenced more guitar players than almost any other guitar player alive. I will agree that what they have turned into now, is mostly a nostalgia act, and is all about money and marketing. Gene’s attitude and disrespect to the original lineup and legacy has me infuriated, and makes me ashamed at times to call myself a KISS fan. Especially when things like this HOF debacle happen. All that said there isn’t a Rock N Roll artist in the world who set out to do this that didn’t want money , fame and sex. Thats what rock n roll is all about!

  • el duce on

    Wow what a turd! Kiss fans don’t say who When talking about ace frehley! Gene is beyond delusional at this point! Why doesn’t he explain why kiss has to co-headline with motley crue and play alot outside of America in festivals and crap. Eddie trunk was right when he said that kiss needs to co-headline to get people in the door. I understand kiss is huge on tour still, but the reunion was far above anything they have done since. Large audience’s don’t count when you are playing friggin festivals with other supporting acts. Look at tiger stadium 96! Absolute spectacle!!!!

    • Eddie on

      Again Kiss does well in some parts of the world and at festivals now. But to say Kiss is huge now is just plain wrong. Co-headline tours and triple bills are not what huge bands do! Huge bands do arenas with no name support! Check the year end Pollstar grosses that are reported by the industry. Kiss has not been in top grosses for many years. That is NOT huge!

    • El duce on

      I agree. Why else would they need to not only co headline, but co headline with acts as large as aerosmith and Mötley Crüe. This shows they need significant push to fill arenas.

    • Cali on

      Well Gene and Paul ‘believe’ they’re huge… goes without sayin’…… when you’re wearing those rose colored glasses.

  • Cali on

    “Imagine getting onstage and playing with a lineup that does not exist,” says Simmons, 64, comparing the situation to a forced reunion with an ex-spouse.

    How childish. Peter and Ace aren’t ex spouses for starters. The lineup that ‘doesn’t exist’ in Simmons mind DOES exist. They just no longer play together.

    G&P piss fans off by downplaying the importance Ace and Peter brought to the band. And that’s exactly what they do: downplay.

    I realize they don’t want to detract from the foreign fans who fill arenas and who don’t know any better, but they need to stop insulting all of their LONG time fans with this ‘I don’t care attitude’.

  • Ryan B. on

    Thoughts on this article…..

    1. The more Paul and Gene talks, the more I find myself deep breathing and saying to myself,”You still have the music. You still have the music.”
    2. Paul and Gene’s obsession with Ace and Peter’s past drug use is at this point laughable.
    3. How did Gene and Paul gain control of the Ace/Peter make up designs?
    4. Paul Stanley is taking a direct shot at our beloved Eddie Trunk with that “imposter” rant.
    5. Singer and Thayer are the definition of “company men”. Not a thought for themselves…..
    6. I will say for the 50th time here on that I hope Ace and Peter DON’T take the high road and they do everything in their power at that HOF induction to make Gene and Paul squirm, way worse than anything that ever happened on the Tom Snyder Show when Paul and Gene were sticks in the mud there, too.

    • Eddie on

      Never said “imposter”, said impersonator, and I’d love to see how someone can tell me it is NOT impersonation of something someone else created like it or not

    • Ryan B. on

      To be honest with you, Eddie, I think Paul said imposter but was probably in his mind thinking impersonator, and somewhere else in his mind was your face saying it. 🙂

    • Doug H on

      I’m not sure about Peter Criss, But I know for a fact that Ace Frehley Sold his rights away to KISS for the rights to his makeup design. When the band was started back when they were forming their marketing for products and merchandise things were still split 4 ways like a real band should be. They all had a stake in their persona’s and the money that came along with that marketing and sales of their merchandise. For a long time after ace left the bad he held on to that piece of his merchandising and the rights to his makeup design. KISS offered him some serious Money to sell it and like an idiot, ACE Took it. I think he was having some financial difficulty at the time. I could be wrong, but I think Peter sold his before Ace.

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