The kiss-off column: My last KISS memoir, unless there’s a book in it
Top left, me in London (don’t let the brown hair fool you, it was only a couple of years ago); middle, one of Paul Stanley’s paintings that helped him earn $3M in sales; right, one of my $2 paintings.
The afternoon the Beatles landed in the U.S., I was lying in my parents’ bed with the shades drawn. Both retinas were scratched from leaving my hard contacts in too long and taking them out inadequately. I was listening to the Fab Four’s antics on the radio, blinded by the light (I was not, however, wrapped up like a douche.*)
Everyone was smitten with the Beatles. My girlfriends and I chose the Beatle we wanted to be in our imaginary game (those were the days before children were allowed to watch TV during the day or play video games). I was the least assertive of my friends, so I was forced to be John, the married one, and therefore by our pre-teen standards, the boring one. I was bummed—I wanted to be the cute Beatle, Paul. As we all know, John turned out to be the most talented Beatle, but at the time I didn’t know how lucky I was to be John.
KISS’s Paul Stanley was also impacted by the Beatles. Like all of America, he was watching the Ed Sullivan show the night the Beatles were first on TV. “I was deaf in one ear, a fat kid … I couldn’t play an instrument,” he tells me, “but I thought, ‘I can do that.’”
While Paul believed he could be a Beatle, I wanted to marry one. Needless to say, Paul came a lot closer to his dream than I did to mine.
When I met Paul Stanley, the KISS guitarist, I was struck not by our differences, but by how much we have in common. We both paint to de-stress from our jobs, and we’ve both made money from our “hobby.” Paul, to date, has sold about $3 million, and I have collected exactly $2. Publisher Mary Jo Larson and Snip-It’s Vice President Kim Ellis each paid me a dollar for one of my paintings after a dinner party at my house. Let’s just say there was wine involved.
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Paul starred in the London production of Phantom of the Opera, and I not only saw the Phantom of the Opera, I’ve been to London! For two weeks, Paul did eight Phantom shows a week. He learned his lines while on a KISS tour. During the other band members’ solos, he’d sing the Phantom songs to himself, he said. When he showed up for the first rehearsal and was asked where his script was, he responded, “I’ve memorized it.” And yes, I once showed up at a rehearsal without my script, too.
You can Google Paul’s rendition of the blockbuster song, The Music of the Night. Alas, I no longer have the playbill from the night I saw Phantom on Broadway, but I do have a picture of me in London.
Paul one-upped me in the offspring department as well; he has four children and I only have three. His range from kindergarten to college grad. Mine are all college grads, but, let’s just say I have grandchildren older than kindergartners.
The one place where our similarities end is that we both take barre classes but he really rocks a midriff top. (Sigh.)
*Bruce Springsteens’ lyrics were actually “revved up like a deuce,” but became legendary as “wrapped up like a douche...”