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Sex Money Kiss (Gene Simmons Family Jewels) Paperback – Bargain Price, August 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
The legendary lothario of the rock band Kiss believes that the most important things in life are money, sex and more money-and he repeats variations on this theme in this highly entertaining book, which that covers much of the same autobiographical ground as his successful KISS and Make-Up, albeit with a different slant. Simmons readily admits that "just because I stick out my tongue a lot and spit fire doesn't mean I have any qualifications to advise anyone on relationship, money or career issues." What he does have is a highly successful rock band and, apparently, a highly developed ego, and he uses both to present a philosophy of work that is rooted, some would say ironically, in traditional Puritan virtues-work hard, save your money, don't smoke, don't drink, don't get high, equate time with money and know that being rich is better than being poor. His example of a successful man is his equally hard-working Kiss partner Paul Stanley; as in his first book, Simmons trashes the bad habits of his other bandmates. His view of the sexes, however, is Neanderthal: the "power of women is completely based on whether she can attract a man, biologically speaking," while "the power of man is in achieving wealth and `killing things' so we can come back to the cave with a big piece of meat over our shoulder." This belief translates into Simmons's main financial advice: "The worst thing a man can do, financially and biologically speaking, is to get married." His messages are bound to resonate with the book's prime target audience: not-so-young professional guys. 24 pages of color photos; b&w photos throughout.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
<DIV>Gene Simmons was born a very poor Chaim Witz in Israel in 1949, and immigrated with his divorced mother to Brooklyn in 1958. Thrilled by comic books, The Ed Sullivan Show, and rock and roll, Simmons ultimately decided that people crave great rock and roll music and a great theatrical show. People crave excitement and escape from their everyday lives. This inspiration led Simmons to create the most enduring sound in rock music history.</DIV>
Top customer reviews
1. Every action leads either TO money or AWAY FROM money. ALWAYS take the path towards money. (Apparently, regardless of other concerns.)
2. Be completely selfish when it comes to money. Money solves real problems; love does not. Never get married. Spouses have say over your time and money.
3. "No" and "failure" mean nothing. Try everything, and without shame.
I think this book is best suited for young men, about 18-20. Most of his advice is for people before they get too far into adulthood (jobs or relationships). He talks about building up cash reserves at a young age and not getting sucked into mortgaging one's future to have unnecessary wants right now. The rest is about constant work, taking chances, and suggesting we try to make money off of our hobbies. And how women get in the way of making money.
The book is framed in a narrative from his youth to the current day. It's kind of a history of Gene Simmons and Kiss, and a good companion book for fans looking for more insight into the musician's career. Those fans should just know that this book isn't really about the musician or the band. It's about Gene's business decisions. That and his views on women and relationships. I won't go into those except to say they're consistent with his selfish views on money.
Gene doesn't let feelings cloud his judgment. He apparently doesn't have a sentimental bone in his body. (But from his show, Family Jewels, it's obvious he isn't frugal with his family.) Everything is either a way to make money or a waste of time. He doesn't seem to have any other values expressed in this book. Gene talks about the Kiss reunion breaking up again, but doesn't give specifics. He doesn't mention his harsh treatment of Ace and Peter being the reason they left. He only casts the breakup in terms of them not choosing the path that made them money, not as rejecting his lopsided offers (to members who formerly were equal members, and remain equal in the eyes of the fans). Note that this book was written before Peter Criss wrote his. I read them in reverse order, and can see what Gene is leaving out.
Gene is a workaholic. He presents this as a work ethic and philosophy, but it's really just his personality. He doesn't sacrifice anything to work 24/7 because he's in no way attached to anything outside of himself. It's also why he has to throw his own parties and call up non-friends to attend his TV roast. Gene's only connections to others during his life was what they did for him, not what he could do for them. Ace and Peter reflect on Gene's lack of friends. This book reinforces this. Gene admittedly only cares about money (no profit in friendship). This frees up a lot of time to work.
It's no secret that Gene's later successes were built on his being successful in Kiss. He might have been successful at anything he did, but doubtful he'd have been this successful elsewhere. Gene's advice in this book is conflicting at times. On one hand, he says he's always chasing demand--meaning, if he sees something is in demand he wants to be the one selling it. This isn't innovation, this is reaction. But it is wise advice to always know what consumers want. However, his path fortune was not built this way. Kiss created the music and show they wanted to see, not a ploy to tap into an existing revenue stream (make-up and androgyny were on the way out). Gene warns against taking these risks (such as trying to be an under-six-foot basketball pro), but it was this very kind of advice that Gene rejected when launching Kiss. Nobody wanted this band--not its music, not its stage show. Which leads to another concern I have....
...Gene says he doesn't believe in luck. And yet it was a massive stroke of luck that made Kiss a success. Gene does not discuss here the fluke chance of getting signed by Casablanca. Only Neil Bogart was interested in the band, but not with his former label. Bogart created a new label of his own and made Kiss his first project. Bogart and manager Bill Aucoin--both with significant previous experience and success-- invested heavily in Kiss, putting up millions on a band whose shows were expensive but records weren't selling that well. Kiss got lucky, extremely lucky. Had Bogart not formed Casablanca, or not formed it at that time, Kiss would not have had all that experience and financing behind the band. Sure, Gene's faith in himself is important to his success, but Bogart and Aucoin's faith is what really made it happen. Also, the band's breakthrough release was a double live album--another risky idea supported by Bogart and Aucoin.
That said, to his credit he seems fairly upfront about his failures. He doesn't make excuses for the ventures that do not work.
After reading this book, I realize why so many of Gene Simmons's projects fail or are short-lived. He gives the speech about how you're not selling the product, you're selling yourself. And he shows that he has some acumen in determining what the public wants. But I noticed he often fails himself in this regard by not taking his own advice. When Gene produces something gimmicky, like slapping a Kiss logo on a yo-yo or the Kiss Symphony, he makes money. When the item doesn't take itself too seriously, it reflects who Gene Simmons is and so the public buys into it--for what it is. But when Gene tries to do something a bit more serious, such as a line of comic books or as a producer, it doesn't last. I think the reason for this is based on Gene being right about selling oneself. Gene makes sure everybody identifies him with shameless promotion and the classless pursuit of simply putting our money into his pockets. This isn't helpful when the consumer wants to buy into the creator. How do we know Gene's comic book stories are genuinely good and the book exists on its own merits (or the band or movie he's shilling)? Why shouldn't we just dismiss them? It's not like Gene hides the fact that he doesn't much care about the product (not even his own Kiss songs) as he does having his name on it. It's not a surprise his Tongue magazine flopped after just 5 issues (it had to have very poor numbers from the get-go to die so quickly). It just didn't seem sincere, like he was filling a need beyond his own ego.
Overall, I give the book 4 stars. I read it only because I am a fan of Kiss and as a fan I enjoyed those elements. I also enjoyed his financial advice, even if it wasn't anything new (it's good to be reminded of basic truths once in awhile). I also enjoyed his rants about women and relationships, as flawed as they were. And we got to see some never before published pics.
I can't remember how I found out about this book because i'm not a Kiss fan. I think I must have seen him interviewed back in the day when he was spruiking this book and thought it worth a look.
In addition to giving some history to the band (which I did find interesting), it's basically an autobiography of Gene Simmons with an emphasis not on 'I was a rock star and slept with 1000 women' but more along the lines of 'don't live a boring life! - go out and do it all like I did'. So you could almost put it in the same category as 'Screw it let's do it' by Richard Branson.
Simmons is nothing if not pragmatic. Some could call it cynical. For instance he recommends that men do not get married, yet women should find the richest guy they can an marry him ASAP. The (rather callous) insinuation that men should avoid settling down yet women should try to get the guy that gives them the best life possible. He also rather crassly copyrighted the 'moneybag' symbol and sued anyone who wanted to use it. I kinda can see where he's coming from with this book but not sure I want to agree with all of it.
I read this book while I was in an unhappy relationship. And it did help me to see that things didn't have to stay the way they were and that ultimately I was free to make my own life and be responsible for my own happiness, not someone else's. So for that I am very grateful.
Not everyone will like this book (I suspect certain people will hate it), but it was a powerful book for me and in some ways turned my life around. For that reason I give it 5 stars.