Gene Simmons

In high school, I hated Kiss. I loathed them. I despised them with an intensity that adolescents reserve well, um, for pretty much everything.

The origins of my Kiss hatred were simple: they were immensely popular. Therefore, ipso facto, Kiss were the product of focus groups, polling, and shadowy backroom corporate manipulations. They were talentless, made-up hacks who pandered to the lowest common entertainment denominator. That was Kiss.

And then, approximately twenty years later, backstage at a Canada AM green room, I met Gene Simmons. I was there to participate in a regular political panel. Gene was there to plug his new autobiography, titled Kiss and Make Up. While there, Gene hit on everything wearing a skirt, and quite a few things that did not. He also talked – a lot. I found myself laughing – a lot. He was surprisingly witty, and clearly intelligent.

A couple years later, offered the chance by accessmag to interview Simmons, I immediately said yes. Using guile and dirty tricks, I would give him the most unpleasant interview experience ever.

My Machiavellian plan: ask Gene Simmons twenty questions about twenty unrelated subjects, in rapid succession. Try and catch him out. Fool him. Get him, ahem, tongue-tied.

Here are the results, with the naughty bits (and there were plenty) edited out. Not all questions are reproduced here, due to space restrictions. At the end of it, the final score: Simmons 20, Kinsella 0.


WK: You’ve been interviewed 20 zillion times, haven’t you?

GS: Right.

WK: I met you before, in the green room at Canada AM. I was listening to you talk. I thought: ‘This guy is smarter than I thought’.

GS: You like men, don’t you?

WK: That’s what my wife says.


WK: If you were marooned on an island, what ten records would you bring with you?

GS: Something by Chilliwack. (Laughter.) These guys should have been beaten up, very badly, not because they put out good music or bad, but because they had the gall to call their band Chilliwack. You deserve a good bitch-slapping for that.


WK: Is there anything complementary that could be said about Michael Jackson? At all? In any respect?

GS: I’ve got some great Michael Jackson jokes for you.

WK: I would like to hear one.

GS: Okay. Why are Michael’s pants always so short? (Pause.) Because they’re not his pants!

(Many other Michael Jackson jokes ensue, none of which can be printed here. Or anywhere.)


WK: Okay, who won the battle of Thermopylae? [Battle between the Persians and Greeks in 480 B.C., in which a few dozen Spartans held off thousands of Persian soldiers in a narrow passage in central Greece, but eventually lost when a Greek traitor showed the invaders an alternate route. – ed.]

GS: Very good. The Persians didn’t.

WK: They did.

GS: Eventually, yeah. But the one hundred or so Spartans held them off in the first part of the battle.

WK: [In awe.] God, you rock.


WK: Does Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry have any realistic chance of winning any Southern electoral college votes?

GS: That’s a good question. I just want to say this for the record: emotionally, ethically, morally, I side with [Kerry]. But there is not a chance in Hell I want him to be President. And I’ll tell you why. I want a complete Rottweiler to be in charge of that country. Someone who is hated around the world, including in Canada, because in a time of war, when you’ve got maniacs willing to blow themselves up to get at you, you need a madman in charge. A war President. The worst thing for America, as far as I’m concerned, is to have someone who is ethical and moral, like John Kerry, because he is going to want to sit down and have a conversation with maniacs. Not good.


WK: Name one starlet you did not bed, and regret missing the opportunity?

GS: It was never starlets for me. It was always Sophia Loren. You know, little girls, you give them a twirl. But there are very few really seductive women, like Sophia Loren. I would do her now. I would consider it a privilege. And I would be a stallion. I would do her proud.

WK: I see. What matters more to female passengers: the length of the train, or the amount of time it takes to get to the station?

GS: How much money you’ve got.

WK: Another possibility, true.

GS: Because if you’re a millionaire, but hung like a second-grader, she will love you. That’s true. Or, you can be broke and hung like Mr. Ed, I suppose.


WK: When you are alone and you are in a big fancy hotel like this one, do you ever jump on the bed a lot?

GS: I’m not alone much.

WK: Okay, with your friends. Do you all jump on the bed together?

GS: I don’t have friends.


WK: Was Kiss’s decision to abandon the makeup in the early 1980s a cataclysmic marketing error?

GS: No.

WK: Was it on par with the Classic Coke controversy, or was it a stroke of genius?

GS: Sometimes less is more.

WK: What do all those years of greasepaint do to one’s complexion?

GS: Richer. It’s a richer complexion. A lot goddamned richer complexion. One hundred million richer.


WK: I’m writing a book on punk rock for Random House. This is true. Is there anything culturally, politically or socially redeeming about punk rock?

GS: Yes.

WK: Thank you.


WK: How did Kiss get so frigging huge?

GS: You know the phrase – the harder I work, the luckier I get. And it’s true. There is such a thing as luck, and being at the right place at the right time. But there is no substitute for hard work. There is no substitute for showing up on time, doing the job that’s supposed to be done. Kiss did that.

WK: Alright, thank you sir.

GS: Asshole is wonderful word. Use it often.

WK: I do already.


  1. Sharon says:

    I am trying to find out how i can ask gene a question

  2. Stellar says:

    Okay, who won the battle of Thermopylae? [Battle between the Persians and Greeks in 480 B.C., in which a few dozen Spartans held off thousands of Persian soldiers in a narrow passage in central Greece, but eventually lost when a Greek traitor showed the invaders an alternate route. – ed.]

    Why do you think that Greek betrayed his people Warren?

    Do you think he had any idea the kind of pain and suffering he would bring on his own kind, on innocent Greek children for centuries to come?

    Do you think he even cared?

    Do you think he might have let hatred and resentment of the Greek army take hold of his soul and take that hatred out on innocent Greek children?

    • Stellar says:

      Maybe the Greeks were just being too “xenophobic” “racist” and “Greek supremacist”?

      Maybe they were just guilty of the crime of HATE against the Persians who were just coming to Greece for a better life and were just an innocent persecuted ethnic minority in Thrace?

      Or maybe they were just normal, loyal Greeks, who wanted what is best for their children and were sold out by a traitor and lost everything because of it.

  3. Rw says:

    I am way late on this. I understand that not everyone is a kiss fan…But a focus group. C’mon Man! That comment is even more dillusional than every comment written in Rolling Stone Magazine.

    Speaking of talentless…You are a punk fan are you not? There have been very few punk groups that wrote a handful of decent songs. There has never been 1 punk group that had decent musicians. Not even 1 that were technically inclined to any degree. (Kiss is not technically inclined either, but compared to punk musicians they are virtuosos) Frankie Venom God rest his soul was the best song writer by far the punk world should have seen but unfortunately, he will be Canada’s secret forever.

  4. Lee Hill says:

    Fab interview Warren. This is your “Terry Southern Interviews a Male Faggot Nurse” (available, for those interested in such things in the essential collection, Red Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes, pub. 1967). I remember our 70s antipathy towards Kiss well. I now like a lot of acts from that period I loathed, despised or ignored back in the day – Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, CSN&Y, far too much disco for your refined tastes no doubt…still can’t really deal with The Eagles except for parts of Hotel California and Seals and Croft remind me of a visit to a Nazi dentist. Kiss was and remains a great singles band, but Cheap Trick remains the real deal for me.

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