Crazy, crazy nights for Kiss tributes' warring dwarves

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The Independent US

The face-glitter and mini-fists are flying between two musicians vying for ownership of a concept most of us would never have imagined to be viable in the first place, let alone something you would pay money to enjoy - the dwarf Kiss tribute band.

In one corner stands Joey Fatale, the 4ft 4in founder of and front man of MiniKiss. His is an all-dwarf group that has found a niche in America's entertainment scene for covering the songs of Kiss, the glam-rock band famous as much for its outrageous face-paints and costumes as for its high-decibel anthems.

His foe is a former member of MiniKiss, the even-more diminutive Tim Loomis. Mr Loomis, who is a mere 4ft tall, recently walked out on MiniKiss. But then he committed the sin of forming a rival Kiss tribute band. He did at least tweak the formula a tad. Called Tiny Kiss, his group features three dwarfs plus one very large woman. (She weighs 350 pounds.) America, it soon became clear, is big enough for only one dwarf Kiss tribute band. Mr Fatale has his lawyers on the case, and is issuing a cease-and-desist notice to Tiny Kiss. He wants the purportedly burgeoning market in America for die-hard, dwarf-appreciating Kiss fans all to himself.

The unusual spat might have stayed private, but for reports now surfacing of a near-collision between the two men at a casino hotel in Las Vegas last month. It appears that after getting wind of an appearance by Tiny Kiss at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino just off the Strip on St Patrick's Day, a furious Mr Fatale decided to muscle his way into the crowd with a few friends. Fortunately, the two were kept apart and no dwarf wrestling ensued.

That would have spoiled a big night for the fledgling Tiny Kiss, who were performing at a popular club show in Las Vegas called "Beachers' Madhouse". Conceived by a local impresario, Jeff Beacher, the "Madhouse" is a night of raucous entertainment which has attracted fans such as Nikki Hilton and Jon Bon Jovi. Tiny Kiss are a hit with Mr Beacher, who has just signed a $1.5m (£840,000) contract for the band to perform every night for the next two years, starting this summer.

It was Mr Loomis who went public over the alleged gate-crashing of his former pal, Mr Fatale. "He came out here and tried to cause trouble," he told the New York Post, "so I had him 86'd [banned] from the Hard Rock. The impression I got was that he was looking for a fight. He'd been threatening me over the phone."

But Mr Fatale insists that this is nothing but a big storm in midget-sized tea-cup. "This whole thing about me going to the Hard Rock with my gang - that didn't happen," was his riposte to the Los Angeles Times. "What happened was, I went there because somebody told me they were doing the show that night. Nobody escorted me out of there. I went there by myself to approach them as a gentleman."

Perhaps it is not just the competition that has irritated Mr Fatale, but more the reasons Mr Loomis gave for leaving in the first place.

According to Mr Loomis, Mr Fatale got "jealous" because Mr Loomis "was getting all the chicks". He adds that Tiny Kiss are altogether different from MiniKiss, "because we are three little people and one fat chick, and he's just four little people".