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Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
I have read a lot of rock star autobiographies - a LOT - and enjoyed most of them. However, I can't say that I really enjoyed Peter Criss's story at all. First of all, the timeline is kind of jumbled - he will mention something, then bring up something that happened years ago, then jump back to the present time he is describing. It makes for a very disjointed read,

Secondly, I always thought Gene was the big egomaniac in KISS, but after reading this, I'd say Peter gives him a good run for his money. Peter mentions at every turn how he has the biggest d*** out of everyone in the band. According to him, every song he wrote was pure gold and he can't understand why Gene and Paul didn't agree with him. It really gets to be a bit much.

Third, I was really disgusted by his casual references to waving guns around and shooting things, especially when high, as if it was nothing. Even years after he supposedly got sober, when he was touring with Ace, he mentions going out and shooting things at random because life on the road was "boring". Um, okay.

He is very cavalier in his attitude about how he treats women. I am not appalled by groupie stories because, as I said, I have read a lot of rock star books and that's pretty much the norm. But most rock stars grow out of that. Peter Criss seems to still have that mentality. He is very degrading in the way he talks about women: so-and-so was chubby and not so great-looking but great in bed; so-and-so was average, but he slept with her anyway; so-and-so had a literally smelly crotch, but he still sort of fooled around with her anyway and he referred to her as a "rug-rat". On and on and on ad nauseum.

Lastly, Peter references multiple incidents where he implies that Ace and Paul swing both ways. And yet, Peter makes so many references to men's appearances and private parts that I have to wonder about him as well. And he even says he is receiving oral sex from a famous groupie named Connie and Ace gets under the covers and joins in, then tries to use that as evidence of Ace's questionable sexuality - meanwhile, Peter says he really didn't care what went on under there. Huh? He refers to male band members of his solo band as "handsome", or having a "face like an angel" and almost every time a man is mentioned in this story, he references his appearance in terms of "good-looking", "handsome", etc. Seems a little odd to me for someone who so staunchly declares his heterosexuality every chance he gets. He also spends an inordinate amount of time describing each KISS member's genitals and size. For a straight guy, methinks he doth protest too much.

There were also editing errors rampant throughout. At one point, a bar called the Sandbox is later referred to as the Sandbar, and there are missing words and typos in there too.

Pretty much a mess... I'm only giving it 2 stars because I thought Peter's description about his early life, pre-KISS, was actually worth reading.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2013
When I started reading this book, I didn't have the highest opinion of Peter Criss as a musician (a drummer who can't keep time is off to a bad start as far as I'm concerned) but I didn't dislike him either. He and Ace were sort of a counterweight to Stanley and Simmons.

After a few pages however, I did something I rarely do: I put the book down and didn't pick it up again for months (compare that to No Regret, Ace's bio which I practically read in one go.) When reading a biography of a rock star, I'm actually expecting to have to read about the megalomaniac aspects of their personality, sordid details and tales of things which they now regret. And I'm actually inclined to try and find their redeeming qualities.

But Criss sounds like one of those relatively dumb guys we've all met who's bragging about how clever they are. First it makes you feel uncomfortable and you hope he'll move on to something else. Then it goes on. And on and on... And there's NOTHING to hold on to, nothing to redeem the guy.

For example, he goes on calling himself a heart of gold on countless occasions - like when he tells us how impressed KISS' new road manager was when Criss bought a proper tombstone for his grandmother (who'd raised him) while the other guys were wasting their money on clothes and cars.

Which leads him to tell us how the poor woman spent her last days and died. He was there when she had a stroke - he ran to his mother and let her take care of the old lady for the rest of her life because he couldn't bear to see her like that. He even says that his marriage was probably one way fro him to run away from that.

Yet he tells you how much he loved her - that woman who fed him, took care of him and put clothes on his back.

That's Peter Criss' definition of a heart of gold - someone who's preoccupied with himself and his own feelings more than anyone else and who feels he's some kind of hero because, years later, when he had millions in his bank account, he spent some money on a tombstone. Heck, he probably spent as much on cocaine that night alone.

To me, that little story right gives out the man like he himself seems too self-absorbed to see clearly - a totally narcissistic personality. Way worst than Simmons because at least Simmons doesn't pretend... And lord knows I don't like Simmons all that much.

So that's what this book is all about, really - Peter Criss painting himself as the good hearted guy on one hand, and, on the other, telling you the story of a dumb prick who never really cared about anyone but himself and who's too blind to even realize that. Only by having their head so far up their arse could someone think of themselves as a heart of gold after narrating such a story.

Another example - when talking about the Unplugged show, Criss rips on Simmons saying that he could almost see the dollar signs in his eyes in view of a potential reunion. The very next paragraph, he tells you that he himself jumped on the reunion offer because it meant so much money. And then proceeds to tell you how he dumped his band and his girlfriend (because there was suddenly something strange about a stripper in her 30s - something he said he had absolutely no issue with only a few pages before.)

The book is still interesting nonetheless, and abundant in details - sometimes too much actually (I really didn't need to read about the size of KISS genitals but Criss obviously felt it was an opportunity to brag about himself once again.)

Criss also regularly bring up anecdotes about Ace Frehley - probably because they make the best stories. To be frank, they're the best part of the book. Otherwise, it's all about Criss bragging or speaking about money and money and money...

I started this book I didn't care about Criss. A few pages into it, he'd become one of if not the most unlikable character whose biography I'd ever read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2013
Peter Criss talked about releasing this book for something like two and a half decades. And when it finally came out, it was a long awaited counterweight to the Simmons/Stanley version of the Kiss story.

Unfortunately, this story is so colored by bitterness towards his former bandmates, you really have to take a lot of Criss' statements and stories with more than a grain of salt. What baffles me most is how he seems to absolve himself of nearly all the responsibility for the bad things that happened to him, and to be fair, there's been a lot of bad things in his life. You get a few "that was a stupid move" remarks, but there's always some kind of excuse to go with it. The drugs, getting fired from Kiss, divorces, financial straits, bad decisions.. The whole book seems like a quest for sympathy, and to be honest, it backfires. Criss comes off as an delusional moaner more often than not.

I can understand some of the resentment he has towards Stanley, Simmons and even Frehley, they don't seem easy to work with at all. But the way he expresses that resentment makes him come off like an angry, overly emotional child at times, willing to do anything just to be able to take a stab at them (especially Stanley and Simmons).

Anyways, the read itself is fairly amusing, though he goes into great detail when it's REALLY not necessary on more than one occasion. And if he's managed to worsen my impression of Stanley and Simmons even more (which is very hard), he's also ruined the impression of himself in the process.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
I've read Gene's and Ace's books. Each is primarily the author's life story, but the only reason anyone cares about either one of them is KISS. Hardcore fans of the band were generally disappointed that more dirt wasn't disclosed. Well, Peter Criss' long-awaited memoir doesn't disappoint.

I've read a dozen rock biographies this year, and Peter's is really high on the list when it comes to placing the reader into the scenes of the band's history. One can almost smell the incense and greasy hair of the early 70s. He (and his co-writer) craft vivid scenes about of how KISS formed and the chaos that went on backstage. And no one is spared. Not even women with him he had the briefest flings or road managers he met once. He uses passages from Gene's book against him perfectly, such as refuting Simmons' claim that he thought Bob Ezrin's cocaine pile was Sweet-N-Low. The story of Gene's full-body herpes outbreak is worth the price of the book alone. Of most interest to KISS fans is probably his revelations (and assassinations) of Paul Stanley's character. Gene only had positive things to say about Paul in "KISS and Make-Up." Ace barely mentions Paul at all in "No Regrets." But Peter rips Paul a new one, and the stories will leave KISS fans nodding in epiphany and stating "OH! Iiiiiiii see."

However, as the bio winds down, Peter seems to show barely any attitude of gratitude. Yes, he was taken advantage of. Yes, he was probably ripped off. Yes, he was betrayed. But, the downward spiral into negativity makes one feel less and less sympathy to Peter. It's palpable that anyone could feel less guilty about betraying and stealing from Peter Criss after reading this book. He is honest with himself and the reader, but not nearly harsh enough on himself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2013
KISS always liked to rant about how "Rock 'n' Roll All Nite" was the band's signature anthem and encompassed everything anyone needed to know about who they are. It's the typical slice of B.S. served by this marketing dynamo since the early days. A more apt song would be "Psycho Circus" ... as in these are four psychotic men with severe mental and personality disorders reduced to slapping the clown make-up on to feed whatever sick desires that are needed to keep the sociopaths satisfied.

KISS, the band and not the corporation, indeed did exist at one point. The early years were full of tales of a group of young men (extending beyond the four to people like Bill Aucoin and Sean Delaney) attempting to bring rock 'n' roll into a modern era with choreography, explosions, lights and an intense focus on the image. The music was good enough to provide a framework and luckily for the group there was enough luck to go around to advance them into a place where childish fantasies could be indulged in for decades.

What surprised me is Peter's admission that KISS stopped functioning as a collaborative creative effort as early as 1976. Gene and Paul were content on the band being a business venture. Friendships and song-writing partnerships disappeared. It was four guys doing their own thing and it would amazingly remain that way for another 35 years.

Peter sadly could never bring himself to break free of the baggage of his initial escape from KISS. He bought into the delusion that he was more popular than he really was and continues to have high hopes for solo recording efforts to this day. Despite Ace's heavy drug and booze addiction, the guy at least hit the clubs and got back to work building his own identity outside of KISS. Criss thinks he's somehow entitled to playing Madison Square Garden for the rest of his life and had extreme trouble adapting to becoming a different kind of professional rock drummer.

Criss's bickering over money on the reunion tour is amusing. If it didn't happen, he would have blown his head off at some point in the '90s. There was no possible income for this man. Gene and Paul did treat him unfairly as far as his pay from the final tours were concerned, but he chose disastrous representation and negotiated terrible deals for himself.

This book is probably a last gasp effort to turn his KISS fame into some sort of money. He certainly does make it work the price of admission (as KISS did with its shows in its hey-day), but we're left with a disturbing portrait of people who should have never received the attention that they did.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2014
While there was SOME interesting stories in here basically what you get is the life story of an angry gun toting drunk and high drummer who thinks he's way WAY better than he ever was. After hearing his solo material he should be thanking Gene and Paul for making him a career.
While most of the story is repetitive and basically talks about one drunken drug fest after another there are some interesting tales (pardon the pun) in here, although I could have done without the EXTREMELY GRAPHIC details of Peter's sex life...I mean seriously Peter grow up!!! I Like his take on the Dynasty/Unmasked era and the Reunion era.
Overall I found it to be nothing more than a feel sorry for me story of someone who believes he's this great songwriter that was being held down. Well why haven't these great songs surfaced over that last 30 yrs??
Ace's book is FAR better IMHO
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2013
It is not all the trials and tribulations Peter went through that make this a pathetically sad tale, it is the fact that he seldom, if ever, accepts any responsibility for what he has gone through. Constantly pointing a finger and assigning blame. That is the saddest part of all.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2012
So finally we have it, original KISS drummer Peter Criss's autobiography that he's been talking about since what seems like decades now. I used to kid around with people that it was Peter's Chinese Democracy, but even that came out four years before his autobiography did. KISS fans are attached to the original members and the personas they portrayed, but when I was a kid I wanted to be Peter Criss. He was the reason I wanted to play drums and when me and my friends put on the KISS makeup for Halloween I was Peter. You cannot deny that Peter was an original member and was a part of what made KISS and what made the band special, his jazzy drumming style, his voice; he was an important part of what initially made KISS. I was glad to see that his book was finally released, Gene's and Ace's books are good reads but you get a sense that just scratch the surface (Gene's first book is largely about himself, his second business and Ace's book he seems to have forgotten things and skims through years towards the second half). Peter Crisscuola I knew would be honest to write it all down, the good, the bad, the madness and he's not shy about his drug addictions, his near suicide in 1994, depression, battles with cancer, even his band members (I think this may be the final nail on the coffin for any fans that still had hopes of seeing the original four reunite once more).

The first chapter already sets into the some of the madness in Criss' life. The book starts in 1994 when an earthquake destroyed everything he owned and he was about to pull the trigger on his life. It's a rather dark chapter to start the book with but it's good in that it makes you want to read the book and find out all you can. I loved the part about recording Destroyer and how demanding producer Bob Ezrin was, out of all the books that have come out on the band Peter goes into the details and things that aren't as talked about. He sheds insight on the money he made, how much money KISS made. Peter is very vocal and I was captivated to read his thoughts from about 1978-80 when he was about to leave the band and it was clear that they were not longer a unit (he wasn't fond of Love Gun either turns out). He was against doing the KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park '78 made for TV movie and the way he recalls it he was really direct about it too and thought it wasn't KISS anymore and hated doing it. Same with the Dynasty album in 1979 with "I Was Made For Loving You" going disco even though he didn't play on that album except for his one contribution. I think he sums it up best when he said "To me KISS was a Rock and Roll band and we had become a kiddies band, a circus and it became about the merchandise and not the music, I was in for the music from the beginning man". I think that echoes some of the KISS Army's feelings too.

There were a lot of things I didn't know or had only read about but without any real insight. His wives, his going to basically an asylum, his near comeback to KISS in 1980, suicide attempt and so on. It's definitely a must read for a fan. I loved reading about Peter's childhood and growing up, playing clubs before KISS, his attempt at a solo career, the reunion with KISS up until now. It's all covered make no mistake. Sometimes it's easy to see how fragile and emotional Peter could be, deep down the cat is sensitive. Yet reading his book and all the stories he tells he really was the original Tommy Lee in a sense, there's a lot of immature fun and stuff that will make you go "what?". There's swear words throughout but then again its rock and roll and sometimes it can be offensive.

The most interesting parts of the book may very well be the dirt on Gene, Paul and Ace. I don't think anyone would be surprised by what Peter had to say on Gene. Ace's is a bit more surprising and I'm sure he wouldn't be happy to know some of the things that were included about his subject in the book even though they're more goofy than anything else. The worst though, is definitely Paul and Peter tells it all, how he used to see shrinks and talk to them on the phone every day, his sexuality, certain physical aspects and things that he did (particularly funny and exaggerated during the KISS/Aerosmith tour). What made me respect Peter's decision to make this book was that he intended to reveal all the behind the scenes about KISS and he had no problem telling this as they were. He gives credit where credit is due as he talks a lot about Bill Aucoin and Sean Delaney, the tour guys and acknowledges whoever did what. To sum it up at one given point he says that Gene and Paul like to take credit for certain things while it was others who came up with the ideas, or mess with "KISStory" as he puts it. He's utterly honest about touring, his wives, the sex, drugs and all the crazy things he did. He tells all about growing up, his family and personal things really. Sometimes you don't even want to know some of these stories in the book because it's plain filthy and immature, but this is Rock and Roll and Criss'book is a wild ride.

I love how he doesn't hide his feelings on KISS, the band members, producers or anyone else. When he talks about why he quit the band you understand it more, why he decided to leave and the events that pushed him to do it. His feelings about KISS now are clear as well and he really doesn't like Tommy Thayer. He's vocal about decisions that were made and what some band members did and tells it all like it was. Ace's book was a good read but Peter's goes deeper and offers insight and his personal feelings and there is a lot of "dirt" so to speak. The book is not just about KISS, there's a lot about Peter himself. His personality and how he is, his solo career and the bands he played with, the near suicide and more recently his breast cancer battle and its all things that would of interest to a KISS fan and it's all in this book.

Peter's book was well put together and comes across as honest and very readable. I know Peter was known for exaggerating sometimes and crying wolf but even he acknowledges that, and he doesn't try to make himself or anyone come off as angels or any better than anyone else. Makeup to Breakup is a great read for anyone who is or was a KISS fan, Criss'book does the best job of telling it like it really was and goes into things that other KISS books do not which would make it required reading for the die-hard. I have a lot of admiration for Criss putting this book out slamming himself, his bandmates, the decisions they made. An entertaining book and a solid read, it delivers and informs certainly answered some questions I had and others I didn't have. 4/5.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2015
For nothing else besides entertainment value, this was a good read. Let me start off by saying that I’m not the biggest Peter Criss fan. My favorite Kiss drummer by far is Eric Carr. Eric Carr is the best drummer Kiss had at a time they really needed talent. Peter is the least talented Kiss drummer, and not the greatest singer, no matter what he would have you believe, in my opinion. But give it to the guy, he paid his dues and fought hard along with the other guys to create a concept and a band that people love. Peter is a founding member and no doubt was instrumental in creating Kiss and was just as big a contributor as any other member. That at least came thru in this book. But then he threw it all away for drugs, and when drugs took it’s toll physically and mentally he didn’t have enough raw talent to fall back on, as Ace did. Again, this came thru in this book. Peter did not seem to dim this aspect of his life, in the book. No doubt Gene and Paul are not the saints they would have you believe, and they were just as hard to manage as the drug addicted members. That also came thru in this book. But, the difference is, egos aside, because they all had them, Peter can’t blame his downfall on anybody, but himself. I doubt the record industry buried his solo albums, to eliminate competition for Kiss. I’ve listened to Peter’s solo albums, and they’re not that good, at least to my taste. But in the end, I do believe Peter cleaned up his act, and gets some of it now, but based on his opinion of Mark St. John, I still kind of wonder. It’s too bad the other members of Kiss couldn’t put aside the ax for the reunion stuff. There was plenty money and accolades to go around. But, in the end the band continued on with success, even though Peter went by the wayside. By the same token, for all of Peter’s self aggrandizing and that Gene, Paul and now Ace are jerks, he is pretty hard on the new members of Kiss. After all, if someone is willing to learn Ace’s stuff note for note, that’s worthy of praise in my book, even if it isn’t in Peter’s. I did get that Peter loves Kiss, the band he helped found and still has fond memories of the early days, as they were building their brand. I also enjoyed learning a little more about Peter’s early life and some of the traumas and triumphs he experienced, albeit some of it was kinda weird and seemed to be exaggerated. Anyway, this book is a pretty good read, for any Kiss fan, even though it is slanted towards Peter’s favor and not necessarily the whole truth. But what would you expect? You know what they say, there are three sides to every story. Peter’s side, Kiss’s side and the real truth lies somewhere in the middle.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2013
This book is a must-read for KISS fans; the warts-and-all approach taken by Criss makes for some pretty delicious reading. That said, it is clear that Criss (and the book) would have benefited greatly from a 12 step program before telling this story.
If you have ever lived with an addict, you will immediately recognize the thought and behavior patterns. The events described, as well as the conclusions arrived at by Criss regarding the outcomes, are all told through the lens of the unrecovered addict. Attributions, blame, recriminations, regrets.... all are on full display in these pages.
This is the story of a guy who was in the right place at the right time more than once, and continued to make the same mistakes over and over again. He indulged every appetite that he had, and pursued sex and drugs with such enthusiasm that he never took enough interest to look at the things that mattered. It makes for a salacious read, but one can't help but become frustrated with the author's inability to take responsibility for his own failures- especially when he is so quick to point out how hard he worked for his successes.
While I can heartily recommend this book to any KISS fan, I would also recommend that Peter take a meeting or two, paying special attention to the fourth step. It's never too late bro.
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