(Gene Simmons at Fright Night Continues)
The door opened and we were escorted into a large ballroom full of empty chairs facing an almost equally vacant stage. There stood Gene Simmons in front of a long table, arms folded. He was clad in a dark blazer, button down shirt and jeans while wearing sun glasses. With his head tilted up, it almost looked like he was trying to recreate the Sphinx cover from the KISS Hot in the Shade album.
Making the journey towards him in silence was nerve wracking enough before Simmons started snapping at the crew member accompanying us. “You DO realize that at the rate you’re moving we’ll be getting through about sixteen people per hour, don’t you? You HAVE done this before, correct?”
Before delving into what would become the most interesting and substantive celebrity encounter I’ve had to date…Gene Simmons at the 2013 Fright Night/Fandomfest…let me share a little background regarding my fandom of KISS.
So far as my fervor of the band is concerned I’m something of a late bloomer. Although I’d grown up during their zenith in the ’70s, they’d never been a part of my childhood as they’d been with so many others of my generation. Obviously I was aware of them and remember seeing their image on the back of comic books and on lunch boxes but that was about it.
The first official DAYS OF THE DEAD convention received a huge boost when it was announced that the elusive, Ace Frehley, would be its top guest. Frehley, of course, was the original guitarist for the iconic rock band, KISS, and a strong percentage of fans (who proudly count themselves as soldiers in the KISS Army) will quickly site him as their all-time favorite member.
If not for Frehley’s talent than certainly for his lack of conformity. With his inability to adhere to a tight schedule, coupled with his shaky relationship with sobriety, Ace would not only be a thorn in Gene Simmons’ dragon boot but, so far as many fans were concerned, become the living embodiment of “cool.” Ace rejoined the band when it reunited in 1996 then left again in 2002. Despite his replacement, Tommy Thayer, donning his familiar make-up for subsequent touring, the majority of fans know that there is only ONE “spacemen” and that will forever be Ace.