BY JOHn B. MOORE
Man, Peter Criss must have just been seething behind those drums for decades.
Sitting on his stool watching Gene $immons do that creepy tongue thing night after night between blood spits and fire breathing; checking out Paul Stanley stroke his guitar between his legs like it was a six-stringed cock; and Ace doing… well Ace doing whatever it is he does, but clearly drunk and stoned while doing it. Judging from his new book Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss (co-authored with Larry “Ratso” Sloman), Criss was one pissed off kitty cat.
Makeup to Breakup doesn’t really blow the doors of any preconceived notions we have of Kiss –those were all shattered years ago by various books by fellow band members include Ace Frehley’s contribution to the cannon earlier this year. Criss rehashes many of the same observations we’ve heard before: Gene Simmons is an egotistical man whore who loves women as much as he hates showering; Paul Stanley can be just as bad as Gene, just busier with all of the visits to his shrink; and Frehley loved his booze and drugs. But Criss seems to spend a great deal of his book reveling in his distaste for his band mates (Frehley gets off a little easier, as Criss actually considered Ace a friend for a few years after they went AWOL from the Kiss Army). He tries hard to paint Stanley as gay, despite never seeing him with a man and even gleefully recounts Frehley making out with a male friend on tour during the late ‘70s. There is a funny, if petty, anecdote about Stanley stuffing his pants (a la Spinal Tap) on their endless reunion tour.
It is also remarkable how oblivious Criss has become even when strolling down memory lane. The sappy ballad “Beth,” Criss’ best known contribution to the band and a punch line to many hard rock followers of the band, is a masterpiece in his world and a feat he has tried to top throughout the remainder of his career (dammit, it won a People’s Choice Award!). He also breathlessly recounts his time with groupies, telling with no hint of shame, about stripping one poor girl naked, covering her with ketchup, mustard and lunch meat before throwing her on the hotel elevator and hitting the button for the lobby. Just chapters later he goes on and on about how much he loves his daughter (clearly these groupies are all orphans).
Much like Kiss’s music, Makeup to Breakup is a guilty pleasure. You know there are little redeeming qualities, but if “hard Luck Woman” or “Cold Gin” came on in your car, you would make sure the windows are rolled up tight and then sing right along. This book is a bit like that. You may roll your eyes and shout “come on!” out loud while reading it, but you can’t help but read every single page. My advice: pick up the new Neil Young memoir and tuck this book inside that one when reading it out in public.
Like many of his former hard rock contemporaries that religious groups once pegged as devotees of Satan (Alice Cooper, Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine), Criss himself closes the book relaying his recently-found tight relationship with God. If these bands really did sell their souls to the devil years ago, Satan has clearly dropped the ball as a band manager.