Kiss may have said they're pulling the plug on the band, but when we grilled Gene Simmons about the demise to the mascara-wearing warriors, all he would intone was "this is the end of Kiss as a touring entity." In other words, there are still lots of possibilities for these guys, who first planted their platform boots on stage and rolled their tongues out during the Ford administration. To wit: not only are Simmons and guitarist Paul Stanley going to be celebrity spokesmen for their former producer Bob Ezrin's KNAC Web site, they're also about to launch two Kiss theme parks (in Florida and Los Angeles), a cartoon show and a radio station. In other words, the Kiss Army will continue to march, but without Peter Criss beating the drum.
Let's talk about the end of Kiss. Why now? Was there an epiphany?
The truth is that the Psycho Circus tour went where no band had gone before, by being the first 3-D tour and people got their own glasses. It opened up all kinds of possibilities. Technology is here and we really wanted to step up.
Did you feel like there was nothing left to do?
Oh no. There are lots of things left to do, but as a touring band we really had done it all. There will be no more touring Kiss.
Will this be an over-the-top tour like last time?
No, this will be the meat-and-potatoes Kiss tour. It's going to be an overview of the entire career, with Ted Nugent and Skid Row opening. It might as well be called the "Fuck Fashion Tour." It's a straight-out good time. It's a place where strippers can come, it's a place where mom and dads can come, and kids can come, and guys with rings in their noses, and girls with bones in their eyes and guys in business can feel at home. Our show is going to be very much like the circus, for children of all ages. Hopefully, "Welcome to the greatest show on earth." If you're going out, what better way than with a party?
So are you ever going to put the make-up on again?
The band will never tour again. This is the farewell tour. There are no ifs, ands or buts; we're not doing this, "Come and see us, because we can sell tickets this way." We can sell tickets just fine.
I feel like there's a loophole and I'm missing it. What exactly is the loophole in this Farewell tour?
The loophole is that you're alive and well, and you have the right to change your mind about anything. But I'm clear that it takes four guys to tour, and this touring entity known as Kiss isn't going to tour after this tour.
Will you be in another band?
No. Every band would pale. The problem with being in any other band would be having to go through the dynamic of listening to somebody else's opinion, and I'm much too stubborn to listen to someone who's wet behind the ears.
Will Kiss record again?
Will there be any more Kiss dolls?
That stuff, you couldn't stop it, it's like coachroaches.
Are you sad that it's over?
No. I believe that in a very real way, that we're the living embodiment that you can march to the beat of your own drummer. That you do it your own way, and you can completely ignore fashion and have platform heels and long hair when everybody is looking like a delivery boy. The basic idea is we want to do Kiss Radio, we want to have chat lines, we want to have all kinds of other stuff that brings us closer to people. But in the big picture, Kiss the touring band will cease to be. There's other stuff to do. Wait until the cartoon show and the theme park. And I've got a deal at CBS for a movie of the week, called Rock and Roll All Night.
How did you and Paul come to sign on as KNAC.com's spokesmen?
I'm a whore; I can be bought off. They gave me a share in the company.
What are your duties?
You know, tap-dance. I don't want to be clichTd about this, but the future is the Internet, whether we like it or not. You're either going to be a player, or you're going to learn how to say, "Do you want fries with that?"
Are you Internet savvy? Do you use email?
I hardly ever sit in front of anything long enough to do one thing. In the same way, as with Kiss, even though I write songs, and produce records and do that kind of stuff, I don't actually sit there and push buttons. So when you ask me how involved I am, I have a working knowledge of a recording console. But if you ask me which button does what, I wouldn't have a clue.
Will you have any say in the editorial direction of KNAC.com?
Yes, we're very involved in the content, which is ultimately what it's all about. It's never about the delivery system.
How do you want Kiss to be remembered?
I could care less. If the entire world hates me, so what? All my dreams came true. I'm producing films, I have a record company, I'm going to have a book imprint. Kiss was the vehicle, and the people were the bosses that enabled me to be king of my own world.
So you're not going to be a civilian now?
Hell no! I refuse to get married; I refuse to conform if it doesn't give me happiness. It's OK to march along with everybody else if it makes you happy. People like to belong. I don't. I want to be apart and be admired. It doesn't have to be about "I'm the best looking guy," because I'm not. But I will walk in and fuck your girlfriend no matter how good-looking you are.
What's your secret ambition?
God, there's so much I want to do. I want to master Japanese. There's no one secret ambition. Every day when I wake up, I'm thinking about a million things. Movies, books...
Will you ever breathe fire again?
When nobody is looking, I might just whip it out.