KISS’s Gene Simmons on the Time He Melted a Fan’s Face on New Year’s Eve in 1973: “The thing exploded in front of the guy” – 2022 – INTERVIEW
KISS co-founder Gene Simmons was recently interviewed by Dean Delray’s Let there be Talk podcast. You can listen to the entire interview via the embedded YouTube video clip below.
An excerpt from the interview has been transcribed.
On applying the KISS makeup:
We’ve never had stencils. It’s hard except that you do have a template. Your nose is kind of in the middle, separated in thirds by your eyebrow, your nose, your mouth. All you got to do…I don’t want to say all you got to do because it’s not easy…you go down straight on one side, copy that line on the other side, and then whatever you do on one side, you’ve got to be able to freehand. As you know, left and right hand are tough.
As a matter of fact, Paul (Stanley) originally had two stars on his face, but he couldn’t get the other star to look right. One would always be cockamamie and so he settled on one.
On being the one to spit fire on stage:
We were in our manager’s office, Bill Aucoin, and there was a guy named, I think, Amazo or something like that. He came in, “Hey, check this out, guys.” We’re in a small office and he’s sitting on the couch, and he goes, “Phewwww,” and singes the ceiling. We went: “Wow, that’s cool. Is he going to be like an opening act?” Because we were open to any of it.
“No. One of you is going to spit fire during the show.” We’re like, “I don’t think so,” and I thought he said, “Ok, which one of you doesn’t want to spit fire?” What he actually said was, “Ok, who wants to spit fire?” So, I put my hand up. The other guys didn’t because they heard right. “Ok, you’re spitting fire.” “You said who doesn’t want to do it.” Anyway, I got the words mixed up. “Ok, you’re the one.”
On the very first show, I caught the right half (of my hair) on fire. There’s a video.
I have to tell you a crazy story. So, we are doing the very first show (featuring the fire-breathing segment). We’re fourth on the bill on a real concert stage. It’s Blue Oyster Cult headlining, New Year’s Eve, Iggy Pop opening, another band called Teenage Lust – a New York band, and we were opening. It was a month before the first record even came out. Nobody really knew who we were. So, we get out there. We had the flash pods. We actually had the levitating drum set, although it only went up six feet because guys are in the back cranking it. And we had bombs and everything.
It’s the third song, we’re doing “Firehouse.” It’s time to spit fire. I catch fire right away. The audience goes nuts. “Wow, these guys are going to kill themselves. That’s cool.” Then a song our two later, we do “100,000 Years,” which Paul and I wrote, based on a book I read called ‘100,000 Years,’ by Erich von Däniken about aliens landing here and God know what else.
We had the candelabra on stage. Now, somebody thought to get flash paper and fill it with gun powder and just kind of scrunch it up. I would sort of light it while Paul sang, “Do you feel alright,” and throw it over the heads of the audience, and it would explode over their heads and scare them. In those days, fire marshals didn’t know anything. It’s like you could do all kinds of wild and unsafe stuff.
What I’m about to tell you is the absolute truth, no exaggeration. I didn’t throw it well. Instead of throwing it above the heads of the audience, this poor guy must’ve been standing on his seat, so he was taller than the other guys standing on the ground. I remember hitting this guy straight in the face.
You ever see in those freak houses where you hit the duck and it goes right back down? That’s what it looked like. The thing exploded in front of the guy, and he went down. For the rest of the show, we’re thinking, “Oh my God, if this guy sues us, it’s the end of our lives.” We’re waiting backstage, buzzing, buzzing, “Oh my God, I hope that guy is ok.” Our manager is like, “Hope he’s, ok? I hope he doesn’t sue us.” Because this guy, it exploded in front of his face.
And I swear to you (knocks on a door). “Oh, who’s that?” Door opens up and this guy looked like the incredible melting man. The top of his forehead was melted over his right or left eye, but he must’ve been so high that he didn’t feel the pain because he was like, “That’s the best band I ever saw in my life.” He’s going, “Wow, man, can I have your autograph?” “Yeah, sure.” The manager took him right away to the hospital and had him sign-off. It could’ve ended right there. Needless to say, it was the only time we ever did that.