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Kiss and Make-Up

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Gene Simmons has acted in movies and television, has written and produced albums for other recording artists, has managed the recording career of, among others, Liza Minnelli, and was founder and president of his own record label, Simmons Records/RCA. He has recently launched his movie and television producing career with Detroit Rock City for New Line Cinema. He is also the creator and publisher of his own magazine, through Sterling/Macfadden, called "Gene Simmons' Tongue." Gene Simmons lives in Beverly Hills, California.


The "Phantom of the Park," aka Simmons, needs nary a ghostwriter to pen his bio, for he ably delivers this season's most fascinating backstage pass. Articulately detailing his life from his birth in Israel through the 30-year life span of Kiss, he charts how glam-metal's greatest pioneers provided the most outrageous spectacles of arena rock in the 1970s. Those same pyrotechnics, pneumatic drum risers, jacked-up personas and frightening face paints have sold 80 million records worldwide. Simmons, the "guy who sticks his tongue out and spits fire," boasts other onstage innovations, including "throwing up blood" and creating the ubiquitous headbanger's hand sign for the devil. All in all, the rock 'n' roll extravaganzas of the Kiss empire hardly run short of the obvious wild parties, famous faces, hotel fiascoes, banging up cars and getting busy with groupies. Though no Wilt Chamberlain, Simmons describes at length how he has slept with 4,600 women. But when the smoke clears, the book is as well written as it is interesting: the story of a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, the endearingly sincere struggles Simmons faces over the years, his eventual marriage and fatherhood as well as juicy material like his extended romances with Cher and Diana Ross. While moldering rock stars who have tales to tell may be a dime a dozen, Simmons's enjoyable and intriguing autobiography deserves attention. 50 b&w photos. (Jan.) Forecast: Thanks to Kiss comic books, dolls and other paraphernalia, the band's quasicult fan base runs the gamut of age and cultural orientation. Expect big sales garnered from mass e-mails, author interviews and a 50-city radio tour. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Best known for their pyrotechnic concerts and outrageous makeup, KISS has inexplicably endured for more than 30 years. Frontman Simmons here speaks to that longevity, as well as to the band's sale of 80 million records. After covering his childhood in Haifa, Israel, he quickly moves into the evolution of KISS, which he cofounded with Paul Stanley in New York City in 1972. Interspersed with commentary on the band are plenty of details on Simmons's social life. He clearly takes pride in his rise from an underprivileged kid to a stinking-rich cult figure, disclosing the number of women he has slept with and including early comic-book sketches drawn as an adolescent. These divulgences will entertain only the most loyal KISS followers, many of whom are probably not that interested in the man behind the grease paint. This is the first authorized biography of the band (and a self-aggrandizing one at that), so there may be some demand. Fans, however, are better off with Dale Sherman's more objective portrait, Black Diamond: The Unauthorized Biography of KISS (Collectors Guide Pub., 1997). Not recommended. Caroline Dadas, Hickory Hills, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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