Kiss: Why the crazy crazy guys are still monsters of rock

After five decades, heavy metal’s most outrageous made-up men refuse to grow old gracefully. James McNair meets Kiss

Kiss’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley is 60 now, but he had his first hip replacement op aged 52. It was the nightly strutting in eight-inch heels that did it. “Every scar on my body was proudly earned,” he says when asked if he regrets Kiss’s stilt-like footwear. “There’s nothing worse than looking back and wishing you had done things, but I did ’em all. That’s how life is supposed to be lived.”

Today, Stanley is wearing flats – zebra-print flats. “Nice shoes,” says the PR woman who’s introduced us. “Thanks – I shot them specially for you,” says Stanley. Together with  fellow founding-member of Kiss, Gene Simmons, 63, this is how Stanley, AKA “The Starchild”, talks. It’s a playful and meticulous kind of  braggadocio, the endearing silliness of which he and Simmons are at pains not to acknowledge. To drop the mask would be to undermine the  welcome and enduring pantomime that is Kiss.

What they do like to talk about is merchandise. The Kiss Kasket that helps your funeral go with a kerrang!; the Kiss Kondoms that put the kitsch into kontraception – these and sundry other alliterative goods make Kiss seem more brand than band. This time around they are in London to flog Monster, a ridiculously outsized book of glossy Kiss concert photos that weighs for stone, costs around £2,740, and measures three-feet by two-and-a-half feet.

“People say of great books I couldn’t put it down,” says Simmons, “but this one’s more I couldn’t pick it up.”

Monster the album is out, but as is so often the case with Kiss, the new music almost seems like an aside. The cartoonish, New York City-formed band’s fabulously entertaining live shows remain the yardstick by which we measure their worth.

Can they tell me something of what new album, Monster, is about? “What are the songs about?” says drummer Eric Singer incredulously. “They’re about rock’n’roll. It’s nothing to do with age or politics – it’s just the spirit of Kiss, and Kiss never tries to be anything it’s not.” For a man who spends part of his life in the whiskers and pussy-nose guise of “The Catman”, Singer seems pretty intense.

Simmons and the seven-inch tongue he’s quick to waggle at photographers have had plenty of female company over the years. Old flames include Cher and Diana Ross, and the teetotal, Israeli-born star also claims to have bedded over 4,800 women. Simmons once joked that he and his partner – the actress and former Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed –were “happily unmarried” for 28 years, but they finally wed in Beverly Hills last October.

Stanley and Simmons have been co-piloting Kiss for almost 40 years now. You have to admire the genius idea of the makeup. It renders Kiss ageless and it still brings TV crews running.

You also have to respect Stanley and Simmons’s incredible work ethic, but there’s a fine line between dedication and megalomania. “The Kissology Volume 4 DVD will be 10 hours,” says Simmons.

The book and album ‘Monster’  are available now from Kissmonsterbook.com;  the box set ‘The Casablanca Singles’ is released on 4 December

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser