Pure Rock Patroller
Monday, December 31, 2001 @ 11:17 AM
KISS Box Set In-Store At Tower
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“Well, the night’s begun and you want some fun, do you think you’re going to find it…think you’re going to find it”- Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley
December 5th was the night that east coast KISS fans we’re going to have some of the most fun that could ever be generated in KISStory (and that’s saying a lot)!!! At 7pm eternal rock icons Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were going to meet with their fans IN MAKEUP to promote the latest KISS monster….the new massive 5 CD box set. Being a longtime KISS fan I was drooling at the opportunity to possibly get a picture with metal’s most dynamic duo in makeup, as I saw this as a truly once in a lifetime opportunity. This was the second of two in-stores KISS was doing to promote the box set, as the first one (about two weeks earlier) was at the Tower records in LA. After seeing pics of how great Gene and Paul looked at the LA signing this was easily shaping up to be the most anticipated in-store NYC would be a host of.
Now I’ve written a bunch of in-store reviews for KNAC.COM as I always found this part of being a fan the most fun. The in-store represents a unique interaction between fan and band member where you can hopefully have a positive lasting memory. When I submitted my first in-store review (Dee Snider solo NYC signing) to KNAC.COM Editor Frank Meyer back in September 2000 I had mixed feelings about it, as I wasn’t sure he was going to run it. Why??? Because you rarely (if ever) read about in-store reviews in classic metal rags like RIP, Kerrang, Spin, etc. But Mr. Meyer was all for it and now in-stores are major news events at KNAC.COM!
So where would one previously read about in-store happenings??? The fanzines. Being a former subscriber to KISS fanzine’s, such as Firehouse (one of the best ever published), I was very surprised to read about previous KISS in-stores over the years. Being someone who has been fortunate enough to have previously attended many in-stores, KISS has easily been the most accessible band for me to obtain autographs. Did you know that KISS did the following in-stores; Minnesota on the ’79 Dynasty tour (WOW!!!), at least one in Europe on the ’80 Unmasked tour (mega-WOW!!!), in the UK with Ace during the fall of ’82 promoting Creatures of the Night, on the ’83 Creatures tour in MA with Vinnie Vincent in makeup (WOW again!!!), on the ’84 Lick It Up tour (in Cleveland and NY), and I’m sure other “hidden” appearances. This Tower signing would be KISS’ first NY in-store since June ’93 when they did a pair to promote Alive III. [Note: The first Alive III signing was at the now defunct Ritz in NYC and the second was in Long Island, NY].
Onto the day and I was going to meet two friends in front of Tower between 4-8am. I had at least three other people in my entourage coming down, but it got confusing as they invited more people so we wound up being scattered throughout line. My friends Bill and Dave arrived at the store around 3:30am and were the fifth people on line (I arrived around 8am with my friend Mark). Meeting us online around noon was my friend Ray and he would forever put himself on my shit list with his actions later on that evening. Now we knew the bullshit rule of “you can take pics of KISS, but not with them” was going to be in full effect, but still our priorities were the main issue here (i.e. get the pic with KISS in makeup no matter what). The plan was for each of us to go up to the table one at a time and look back to the person (with camera) still behind and get either Gene or Paul’s (no preference) attention to look at the camera. Remember to not give Gene or Paul an “out,” as don’t say, “Hey Paul, can you look over there?” Simply say forcefully, “Hey Paul, look over there!” Bottom line is that to us the autographs were secondary, just throw the box set on the table and let them worry about signing it.
Right from the start Tower simply did not have their shit together. How so??? Well, they started giving out passes on the day the box set was released, but yet when I called the store the day before they had no news of passes being given it (it was originally going to be first come, first serve). And they were telling some fans that you could get as many box sets (either deluxe or standard) signed as you wanted (and purchased at this store), but while also telling some fans just one box per person could be signed. Anyway, the day was moving quickly and as the line was getting longer store employees were roaming the area. My friends and myself caught up with a store manager and had the following chat:
Jimmymetal: It looks like the circus is going to be here today.
Tower employee: Yeah, this is definitely going to be a big signing.
Jimmymetal: I can’t believe you were able to pull this off.
Tower employee: I was surprised too, but Tower was and in my opinion still is the place where the best artists sign at. Sure Virgin gets all the pop topping acts due to MTV being across the street, but we’ve had legends appear at Tower (Keith Richards, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Billy Idol, etc.).
Jimmymetal: Who is going to be the next big signing at Tower???
Tower employee: Well, The Bee Gees have just released a greatest hits CD and are looking to do some shows at Madison Square Garden in the spring so we’re trying to coincide something around that. That would be huge because outside of their one show in Las Vegas a few years ago (resulting in the One Night Live CD) they haven’t done a U.S. tour in a decade.
Jimmymetal: Who were the biggest assholes to ever do an in-store at Tower???
Tower employee: Staind were easily the biggest assholes. They signed at our Paramus, NJ store and when I had those guys in my office before hand Aaron Lewis lit up a joint without even asking. And on their contract rider they requested these special cookies, which we had to have custom made, and they didn’t even eat them!
Jimmymetal: I was at the STP signing and those guys were cool.
Tower employee: Yeah, STP was good and talking to Scott Weiland before that signing was interesting to say the least. Their SLDD album didn’t do so great, but they stayed past the mandatory two hours and signed for over 800 people.
The word of no makeup spread like wildfire throughout the line and to put it quite simply and to quote my friend Mark, “It feels like someone just kicked me in the stomach."
Jimmymetal: I still can’t believe you got KISS to appear in makeup and costume.
Tower employee: Oh, we found out last night that they aren’t wearing the makeup.
Jimmymetal (with friends echoing): WHAT?!?!
Tower employee: They wanted to have the street closed down and bring the large KISS floats, but the city wouldn’t allow it so…
Jimmymetal (with friends echoing): You can’t be serious!!!
Tower employee: Sorry to say, but no makeup. But we’re going to have a tribute band here and a makeup artist, and the bottom line is we still got Gene and Paul here. Gotta go guys.
The word of no makeup spread like wildfire throughout the line and to put it quite simply and to quote my friend Mark, “It feels like someone just kicked me in the stomach." To quote my friend Bill, “L.A. gets Superman and Batman and NY gets Clarke Kent and Bruce Wayne.” I told my friend Mark (and he agreed), “If this were at Virgin Megastore (Times Square) and they did TRL right before, MTV would have had them in makeup (ditto for the signing).” Remember MTV gets whatever they want. What made this even more painful was that I only had the box set with me, as if I had a fair warning of no makeup I would have brought more items with me to get signed. Ah well, the show must go on and so it would be Gene and Paul sans the makeup. Gene Simmons would later state during an interview with Eddie Trunk (the first question was regarding the makeup being missing at Tower) that the fans should see who was really behind the makeup when meeting them. Sorry Gene, but a good chunk of fans in NY/NJ have previously met KISS unmasked and this truly could have been a lasting KISS if the war paint were to be applied. And I honestly wouldn’t have minded no makeup, but to be teased about it just made it harder to swallow.
Between 6-7pm a KISS tribute band (who thankfully didn’t perform) and some KISS sluts were dressed in makeup and costume and then a black van pulled up to the front of Tower. Doc McGhee (KISS manager) got out first and then Gene and Paul stepped out and the crowd unleashed a mammoth roar. Gene and Paul were ushered into Tower quickly and met, posed, and signed for the media. Being the fifth person on line I saw Gene and Paul escorted to the table (coming downstairs) and the crowd (about 20-30 fans in the store) got even more hysterical. They took some more pics for the media and I yelled, “GENE, GENE, GENE” and “YEAH PAUL” and they both acknowledged me with a thumbs up. Fans would meet Paul and Gene (in that order) with a mirrored lit up KISS logo behind them. I was still going to go for a picture with Paul, as two previous attempts with Paul in ’93 and ‘00 went foul (due to camera problems) and I instructed my friend Ray (behind me) to be on alert.
Upon getting the approval to approach the table a security guy said, “Now make up (no pun) your mind right now if you want the box set or the book inside the box set signed.” My friend Mark was ahead of me and was also going to go for the picture with Paul and as soon as he went up to Paul he got his attention and looked back. I snapped quickly (with security yelling in my ear) and the pic eventually came out perfect. I approached the table looked back and asked Paul to look towards the camera. Paul responded with, “OK” and then…Ray wasn’t taking the picture!!! I yelled, “Ray, Ray, Ray take the picture!!!” I lined up Paul again for an attempt, but again Ray had his hand up his ass. Ray supposedly had gotten approval to get a second box set signed and was taking the shrink-wrap off the box and threw the camera in his bag. Ray used the pussy excuse that security was hassling him, but give me a break what did you expect??? Gee, I only let this guy cut into line with us and this is the thanks I got. Fortunately, I have a very long memory and this surely won’t be forgotten. We did have a connection with another source (located in photo area) to have our pics snapped, but Ray was an easier target for me to hit. He simply (and purposely…what pissed me off) dropped the ball.
Conversations we had with Paul and Gene included the following and keep in mind we were moved through line (even Doc McGhee issued orders) very quickly:
Bill: What no makeup???
Paul Stanley: (No response)
Bill: What no makeup???
Gene Simmons: (No response)
Mark: Hey Paul, I really enjoyed your version of “God of Thunder” in the box set.
Paul Stanley: Thanks.
Jimmymetal: Gene, congrats on the box set.
Gene Simmons: Thank you.
And that was it. We were given promo posters of the box set on the way out of the store and the night was over for us. It should be noted that Gene and Paul did indeed sign other items besides the box set including vinyl, 8x10’s, guitars, and the pinball back glass (how in the world did someone “sneak” that in the store) and most importantly they were very friendly towards the fans. They also signed for well past their two-hour mandatory agreement, as 500 passes were given out, but yet they signed for another 200-300 fans (around three and half-hours total). Even without the makeup and costumes it was a great event to attend and my autographs (sign with a gold pain pen) are beautiful. The gods of thunder were smiling down on Gene and Paul and the KISS army on this night, as this latest chapter KISStory would prove to be a lasting one.