34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2001
There's little in Kiss and Make-Up that will come as a big suprise to rabid Kiss fans; Simmons is one of the most intelligent, savvy people around--if he wasn't
a rock star, he could have been a motivational speaker. But the book is largely devoid of much of the wit that he often displays when on TV or radio interviews. The overall theme is one of an kid who came from a foreign country and then proceeded to make it big, a.k.a, the American Dream personified and it comes off with an earnestness you just weren't expecting.
If you know the history of Kiss, you know what's in roughly half this book; if you've read any of the seemingly hundreds of interviews Simmons has done in mags like Hit Parader or RIP over the years, you're aware of the other half. Simmons seems aware of this as he mostly glosses over the most recognizable parts of, um, "Kisstory" in brief, digestible style. He concentrates far more on his personal life (his mother, longtime companion Shannon Tweed and their two kids) and on the roller-coaster behind the scenes business that's gone into Kiss over the years.
There is some dirt; he talks about those 70s front-page relationships with Cher and Diana Ross, all the groupies as well as the troubles he and Paul Stanley have had with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss since the band started . ( There is a picture of Ace in here that ...well, let's just say after Frehley sees it, that may be it for anymore Kiss reunions.) A good book, but no bombshells that would interest anyone other than Kiss fans or
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Gene's book isn't just his side of the KISS story, but it's an attempt at an honest autobiography. Honest is a relative term here, as Gene's entire life has been about bluster and bluff and the art of deception, and so one approaches this book a little warily but hoping for the best, taking a shot at wading through the giant swamp of ego and self-congratulation that is the Simmons style in quest of some real knowledge.
As regards his take on KISS, I had hoped for a lot more road stories, stuff on the songs themselves, and some kind of honesty about the relative levels of success at various times. He does gripe about Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, as who wouldn't?, but there's not a whole lot of credit for much of the stuff Ace did right. Ace's contribution to the band's sound is brick-on-the-head obvious if you compare the early LPs with anything from the 80s. How sad. But anyhow, Gene's relationship with Paul Stanley, which is now at 40 years and counting, gets very little ink. There is no acknowledgement of just how far financially things had gone south by the late 80s, and nothing about the switching of management and agents. Gene has trouble dealing with people as actual people and not merely tools to be manipulated on his way to his idea of success. So the stuff on KISS was, to me, an incomplete and very shallow treatment, a disappointment.
Gene's writing about his family, on the other hand, was often touching and came off as thoughtful and sincere. Yes, there's the bluster about how no woman will tie him down, yada yada yada, but his love and respect for his mother is noble (but his being raised an only child to a single mother with little money and having to learn a new language in his youth goes a long way to explaining everything since then). Likewise, he treats Cher and Diana Ross and now Shannon Tweed with tact and discretion. Finally, his love for his children, which apparently surprised even him, is uplifting and positive.
There is a bit of self-help advice about work, living soberly andfrugally, taking care of business yourself, and keeping one's eye on the ball at all times. None of this is bad advice. The way Gene dispenses it can be annoying sometimes.
The stuff on the girls over the years is just what one would expect; if anything, Gene takes himself less seriously here than elsewhere, as there are funny stories about the truly ugly or superannuated that often shared his bed or couch or breakfast table or car.
The book was worth reading but frankly could have been much better. Those looking for the definitive story of KISS should look elsewhere.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2002
That's my question? How could he-a man who has been in rock and roll for over 30 years-write such a boring book? The chapters basically repeat themselves: 1)I was a poor jewish kid raised by only my mother; 2)I don't drink or smoke, but I sleep with anything slightly resembling a woman; 3)Peter and Ace were always trouble-be it alcohol or drugs-but I didn't want to fire them. As for his relationships with Cher and Diana Ross, People magazine wrote better articles. P.S. Does Paul know what Gene wrote about him? That was the only interesting part of a paper wasting, so-called autobiography.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2003
Where to begin his His Majesty Gene Simmons. First off, for long time KISS fans, this book has nothing new for you. Everything in this book is the same old Gene we've been reading in Hit Parader for twenty years. It's the same old rehashed cliches and one liners from this holier than thou, better than everybody, egotistical, mediocre bass player.
Gene SImmons truly is the American dream. A poor immigrant who conquered the world thirty times over. He and his band KISS were household names in the 70's, reinvented in the 80's, and came back in the 90's. Yes Gene we know, you are so great, you can do no wrong, your word is law, blah, blah, blah.
Gene Simmons could put his fave or KISS logo on anything and try to sell it. The man has no reservations of using the KISS banner in any embarrassing way he can to make a buck. Don't believe me? Go ahead and order your KISS Koffin! That's right, a coffin. Women and money may indeed be the God of Thunder's only weaknesses, but who would complain?
The worst part of this book is the bashing of his former KISS-mates. We all know Ace is a lazy drunk, but do we need a picture of him kissing a middle aged balding guy in Austrailia?
KISS was great, but now they are done. At the Farewell Tour I said goodbye. Now they are a joke.(I mean c'mon, we got a fake Ace now!!!!) All I have now is fond memories of a great rock band that they once were. I read this book out of curiosity to see if there was anything new, there wasn't. And you won't see me standing in line for KISS cookie cutters, transmission fluid, or lawnmowers.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2002
I have always been a big fan of Kiss and I followed them through the years( even the terrible ones!). I can remember saving up every dime so I could buy my Kiss records in the 70's. Well, after reading this book I feel like the biggest idiot in the world. Gene Simmons shows to be nothing more than a greedy, arrogant man who thinks he is the greatest thing to hit music. ... Do not waste your money on this or any other Kiss related item. I can tell you the whole book in 1 sentence. Gene hates Peter and Ace because they do not listen to him and He hooked up with some ladies... The book rambles on with story after story about the band. Only to be interupted in mid-thought about a woman he had sex with. The book in terrible and it makes you realize that all of those years of music were for only one thing! MONEY! Well, you have gotten my last dime you blood sucker!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2008
KISS started out with a ton of fans who bought their albums and each person buying one record a year lifted the band out of debt and poverty. From 1977 onward, the marketing machine took over. As the fan base has continued to shrink, Gene's approach has been to continue to make money not by selling to more people, but rather by continuing to release more product to a shrinking fan base. In order to keep churning out unique product to the same group of fans, he's had to greatly diversify the junk he offers (from coffins to condoms). This book is another in his series of mediocre items that are mainly meant to keep feeding the small audience that is still hungry to collect all things KISS. The book, like many of KISS's merchandise, doesn't have to be good. It just has to be KISS.
The main problem is Gene is so insincere or evasive on those points the fans may most want to know about that the book becomes boring. He's more a politician than an author as he protects the relationships that matter by withholding any information that may alienate the involved parties (Paul Stanley, Shannon Tweed, Cher, Diana Ross) by either glossing over them or failing to offer any depth. He's fine to criticize those who no longer serve his needs (Peter Criss, Ace Frehley). In most cases where the reader might perceive he's "revealing" something, it's a case of "been there, done that" as most of that information has already been talked about in interviews before.
All in all, if you're a fan and have some cash leftover after buying your KISS coffee mugs, T-shirts, and toothbrushes, you'll want to add this to your junk heap. Otherwise, you'll probably want to give it a miss.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2002
Gene Simmons' autobiography certainly pulls no punches. He is brutally and brazenly honest about his humble Jewish upbringing, constant lust, lack of talent as a bass player, eschewment of marriage and drive to make as much money as possible. I enjoyed many of the anecdotes and photos scattered throughout the book, particularly the details about the beginning and end of Wicked Lester and the birth of Kiss. The writing style is fine, it makes the book an easy, quick read. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the first half, I was very disappointed and at times even angry at Gene's decision to constantly hurl insults at Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, and Vinnie Vincent.
He seemingly refuses to pass on an opportunity to slam those who were pivotal in the band's success. The unending insults were as laborious to wade through as they were unnecessary. If they are so awful musically, drugged-out and incompetent, why rehire them for Unplugged? For Psycho Circus? For the Reunion and Farewell tours?
As a lifelong fan of the band, I really didn't want to read page after page of Gene turning the gun on his bandmates, and I would have hoped one of the people whom I admire most would have had much more to say in a 250-page book about one of the greatest, most prolific bands ever and his role in it.
Two other criticisms - there is very, very little in the book about the music itself. Everything's about the groupies, the stage show, the merchandising, the bickering, living in L.A. and New York, and his time with Cher and Diana Ross. There's virtually nothing about the inspiration for or genesis of their songs. The knock on Kiss has always been the music is simple, lacks substance and is simply not very good. The book only reinforces that. What was going through his mind when he wrote "Deuce"? I have to buy the $175 box set to find out!
Lastly, Gene goes on endlessly about all the merchandizing, at one point mentioning the SPIN Magazine covers before the Reunion tour and how it was his idea to print four different versions, one with a picture of each bandmember. He suggest this to Bob Guccione Jr. because "The KISS fans will want to buy all four of them." Geez Gene, thanks for pimping out your fans so you can get some free advertising from a magazine! Create new and interesting music we'd want to buy, not marketing gimmics designed at prying more money out of our pockets!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2002
If Gene's mission is to destroy Kiss . ..Nice Goin' Pal! Mission accomplished! No matter how many times this ego-driven lunkhead slams Ace & Peter (and no matter how ignorant he seems to be to the fact that the true Kiss fans he claims to serve are sickened each time he does so), the rest of us know a simple truth that continues to elude ol' Cod Piece himself: Ace, Peter, Paul and Gene are Kiss. Very simple equation. Only these four parts equal the whole. Learn it, Gene, or just shut up already, will ya?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2006
Gene Simmons' autobiography, Kiss and Make-up, starts out as an interesting read but then becomes very frustrating. Anyone familiar with Simmons knows he has a tremendous ego and that ego is in full force here. Born Chaim Witz in Israel, Simmons was born in poverty and was raised primarily by his mother, a strong willed woman who survived the concentration camps that claimed most of her family's lives. Based on this, you could see where Simmons obtained his will to succeed. Simmons, along with Paul Stanley, saw a vision for Kiss and their work ethic, business savvy, and determination are to be commended. Fortunately, Gene doesn't take all the credit as he gives much respect to those who helped them achieve their goal such as Bill Aucoin, Sean Delaney, Neil and Joyce Bogart, Bob Ezrin, and many others. However, the more you read the book, the more it becomes a slam piece against original Kiss members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. As noted in the book, the band was a democracy as the quartet shared the profits equally. Sure, Gene and Paul carried the load and probably deserved profits more suited to their contributions. However, the continuous slamming of Frehley and Criss makes Simmons sound like a bitter man. He's also off on a couple facts about the band such as Bon Jovi being the opening act on Kiss' 1980 European tour (Bon Jovi didn't form until 1983) and the fact that they followed the hair metal trend of the early 1980's when, in reality, hair metal didn't really take hold until a couple years later. The book certainly is not without merit as the chapters chronicling his childhood, Kiss' early years, his relationships with Cher and Diana Ross, the making of their Destroyer album, and the death of Eric Carr, are very intriguing. All told, Kiss and Make-up is a decent read that would have been better if not for the constant criticism of Frehley and Criss.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2002
Mr. Simmons couches a half-baked personal philosophy of life (and love and etc) in a bunch of pseudo-intellectual drivel that makes me want to burn my Kiss records. This review is going to be short, since I don't want to think about this book any longer than I need to. Basically, save your money, and send Gene Simmons a message that he should stick to singing songs and dancing around, and leave philosophy to others.