By Brian Ives
He’s a football team co-owner, a restaurant chain co-owner, a reality show star, a comic book character, and — lest we forget — a member of the “Hottest Band in the World,” KISS. And tonight, Gene Simmons will add an extra line to his acting resume (who could forget his co-starring role with Tom Selleck in the 1984 film Runaway, or his cameos on shows from “Miami Vice” and “Millennium”?). He’ll be appearing on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” as the CSIs investigate the murder of a rock and roll groupie and the disappearance of a prostitute.
We have questions for Gene, but should you have any questions, check out our FAQ on KISS.
Talk about your role on “CSI” tonight.
Gene Simmons: It was a role I was born to play. I was thrilled when they called and asked me to play “Gene Simmons.” Not the first time I’ve played myself: I did it on “Ugly Betty” and “Castle” and in the forthcoming Entourage movie. I’ve played other roles as well, this was kind of a hybrid. I play myself but I’m suspected of murder. If I told you more about the plot, I’d have to kill you.
In 2008, you published Ladies of the Night: A Historical and Personal Perspective on the Oldest Profession in the World, so you’re obviously familiar with the industry.
It was a researched book, I’m not a gentleman who paid for it. And, you’re right! I’m glad you asked me: KISS are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Note: the interviewer had yet to get to that question] It’s a well meaning organization run by about ten guys. I don’t think that there are any women on the board, which is interesting. And these ten guys, some of them are good guys, some perhaps not, decided that there would be rappers and disco artists inducted. Our contemporaries, the Eagles, are in the Hall of Fame, and every single member that has been in the Eagles is inducted. And so when they offered the induction to us, we graciously said thank you. But then they said, “Only [founding members] Ace [Frehley], Paul [Stanley], Peter [Criss] and Gene get to be in.” So we said, “OK, thank you.” And so we called up [former members] Ace and Peter and said, “Congratulations, we’ll proudly stand alongside you, accept the award.”
But we’re not going to play. So [the Rock Hall] said, “What do you mean? We have the E Street band and [Bruce] Springsteen, we need KISS to close the show! It’s going to be on HBO.” We said, “You’re not going to honor [current guitarist] Tommy [Thayer] and [current drummer] Eric [Singer], who have been in the band for twenty years, two and a half times longer than the original lineup. And they’re supposed to stay home?”
[Thayer actually joined the band as lead guitarist in 2002 (he was a band employee before being promoted to band member). Singer first joined in 1991, and stayed until 1996 when KISS reunited with the original lineup; he rejoined when founding drummer Peter Criss left the band from 2001 – 2002, and replaced Criss again (seemingly for good) in 2004, so while he joined the band for the first time 23 years ago, he’s actually spent about sixteen years behind the drum kit. ]
How about this: we’re going to honor you and at the award ceremony, you can only bring the first girlfriend you ever went out with, not the present love of your life. Can I get you a sandwich while I’m at it? So, we’ll graciously accept the award. But it’s disrespectful to present members of the band.