Gene Simmons: 'I’m on the Side of Don Sterling'

"If, because you say an off-color joke or make a racist rant privately, that causes you to lose a job – nobody would have a job," the singer says

Gene Simmons, Donald Sterling
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Gene Simmons
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Kiss vocalist-bassist Gene Simmons voiced his support of controversial Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whose private, racist comments got him banned from the NBA for life earlier this year, in a Wall Street Journal interview. Additionally, he said he was on "Mel Gibson's side," when it came to getting flack for making questionable comments in private conversation. Although he did call Sterling "heinous," Simmons said that the difference between the Clippers owner and others who have made racist rants in private is that Sterling was caught.

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"Everybody [says] jokes that are off- color, or when they're drunk...He was ambushed," Simmons said. "I think he should have done penance and paid a fine. Here's what's going to happen. They're going to go after Sterling and he's going to put a few million dollars out there, because he can afford it – and he's going to ask the paparazzi out there to find videos of all the other team members talking trash and racist rants. And then it's open season.

"And if, because you say an off-color joke or make a racist rant privately, that causes you to lose a job – nobody would have a job," he continued. "Black people do it, Jews do it, Christians do it – everybody does it. It's called America. Free speech. Even if free speech insults other people. Privately. Publicly, that's different. I'm on the side of free speech in the privacy of your own home or privacy of the situation. Big brother has finally crawled in bed with us."

Simmons also offered his thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins, which lost its trademark on the team name when the U.S. Patent Office officially deemed it "disparaging of Native Americans." "As a Jew, I wouldn't be thrilled as 'The Kikes,'" Simmons said. "And if you're black, you wouldn't be thrilled with a football team called 'The Blacks.' I could use a worse word. Because 'Redskins' was what the white man called them. So I understand if you're a sports fan and if you're white, you go 'Hey, what's the problem? We have a long history.' But if you're an Indian, think about it. White dudes don't have to worry about that stuff because [they] were always the majority in imperialist countries of the world. 'Cracker' means nothing to white people. They had all the money and the power."

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Simmons' own foray into sports-team ownership will be chronicled on the TV series 4th and Loud, which will premiere on AMC on August 12th. The show will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the arena football team Los Angeles Kiss, which Simmons co-owns with bandmate Paul Stanley and some of the band's business partners. The Kiss singer told WSJ that when they broached ownership in the recently launched Arena Football League, they made a speech to win over the other team owners, telling them they'll be the League's "Tiger Woods" and claiming that, as brand owners, they never lose. He also said that teams playing the L.A. Kiss got "more attention" than they would playing other teams. "Whenever a team plays us, boom! They get that extra lift," he said. "On their own, respectfully, they wouldn't get the time of day."

Beyond football, Kiss are currently in the midst of their 40-Year Anniversary tour, which runs through the end of August, followed by a November residency at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. They're also opening up a chain restaurant, Rock & Brews, and, according to Simmons, they are planning something called "Kiss World," though he would not reveal details.