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How I Became a Kiss Fan

When I was eight or nine, a cousin of mine, six years older than me, was a KISS fan. I idolized my cousin.  I thought his rebelliousness against authority was so cool. He talked back to his parents without, it seemed to me at least, getting into trouble.  He wasn’t really a bad kid, at least not any more than most teenagers get.  He just appeared untouched or unfazed by reprimands.  Sometimes he’d have a quick come-back, too, that stopped my uncle and aunt in their tracks.  He could also upset his little sister, who was my age, seemingly on a whim.  I saw all this as some magical ability or power, which I longed to have myself.  

As I wished to emulate this cousin, I naturally told my mom and stepdad that I wanted a KISS album for Christmas (1978-79). I don’t think they were very excited with the idea.  I wouldn’t relent, despite knowing next to nothing about KISS, except that my older cousin liked them, which made them cool.   

My brother and I received two albums, Double Platinum, and Paul Stanley’s solo. My young mind was beyond stunned by some of what I heard, like “She takes off her clothes,” from the song SheCalling Dr. Love, God of Thunder, and Love in Chains were other songs that, though I didn’t understand everything that was said, took me places I had not been before. They were like slogans, calling me to the mysterious and unknown world that lay ahead.   Within a couple years, KISS had become a big part in my life. I bought posters, magazines, more records, and more posters and magazines. 

Then the 80s arrived, and it was rumoured that Peter wanted to leave the group. I couldn’t comprehend how or why that would happen. It was like a family breaking up, and that wasn’t supposed to happen.  There were two things really wrong with this, as far as I could see.  First, I felt like I was just getting to know the four members really well, so how could they now not be together?  Second, I’d became intrigued by drumming, and my brother and friends said that meant I had to be Peter Criss.  I hadn’t considered him much until then, but I knew they were right.  When I was in fifth grade, and my younger brother in second, our mom made us facsimile KISS outfits for Halloween, Peter for me and Gene for him.  We were envied at school for our get-ups that day, and got a lot of compliments, too, when we went Trick or Treating that night. 

I did not, of course, know about some of the issues and controversies behind the split. I also didn’t know, until a few years later, that Dynasty had been Peter’s last record as drummer in KISS.  

By the time I got into junior high (1981), KISS had become unpopular with my peers. But I stuck to my guns.  I remained loyal, buying each new album, up to Asylum.  After that I didn’t feel like it was the same as when I was younger.  I’d changed, too, of course.  Other things held my interest more, like writing and girls (Girls had been on my mind for many years by then. I just didn’t have one who held me in her mind the same way until grade eleven.)  

Today, of the four original members, I don’t pick favourites. I think they all did good work and some pretty decent music. I was really tickled when they reunited and put out Psycho Circus, too, by which time I was in my thirties.    My interest in music has expanded a lot since I got my first two KISS records, but I still enjoy playing those discs.

UnderEli UnderEli 41-45, M Jun 13, 2009

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