NY POST FACE THE MUSIC FEATURE
By Larry Getlen
When Paul Stanley, frontman and rhythm guitarist for the band KISS, married in November 2005, he shared his joy with friends and family, including bandmates Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer.
Notably absent from the ceremony: Stanley’s longtime musical partner, KISS bassist Gene Simmons. He wasn’t invited.
“Your views on marriage are your own,” Stanley told Simmons, who publicly denounced the concept of marriage until his own nups in 2011. “But when you insult and demean people who get married and ridicule or dismiss the idea of marriage, you have no place at a wedding.”
The incident is replayed in Stanley’s memoir, “Face the Music: A Life Exposed,” written with journalist Tim Mohr and out Tuesday. Given the band’s history of party-every-day ethos, Stanley’s willingness to reveal his deepest insecurities and resentments is stunning.
The greatest revelations come from Stanley’s candor about his decades of disappointment with original KISS members Ace Frehley (lead guitar) and Peter Criss (drums) — and, yes, Simmons.
Stanley, born Stanley Eisen in Manhattan, met Simmons — né Chaim Witz from Israel — in 1970. Back then, Stanley writes, the bassist was “very overweight . . . wearing overalls and sandals and looked like something from ‘Hee Haw.’ ” Still, their goals were compatible, and the two quickly evolved into a solid creative team, forming the band that would, in 1973, become KISS.
Known for their outlandish alter egos — for years, they were never seen without identity-disguising face paint— KISS hit it big with albums like “Alive” and “Destroyer.” (Over the next four decades they would ditch the makeup, then re-embrace it, with various members leaving and returning. The only original members currently in the band are Stanley and Simmons.)
As success came, Stanley noticed in interviews that Simmons “sure used the word ‘I’ a lot.” Stanley accuses him of abandoning the band in the early ’80s, distracted by attempts to become an actor, but then taking credit for Stanley’s work; and also of using the KISS logo and persona for personal projects without contractual permission.
During this time, Stanley writes, Simmons’ duplicity left him feeling there was “a traitor in the midst.”
Most damning, though, are Stanley’s statements throughout the book about the business acumen of Simmons, who has cultivated a reputation as a marketing and business maverick over the years. Stanley charges that Simmons has had little to do with KISS’s infamous torrent of branded endeavors, from caskets to condoms.
“I saw the term ‘marketing genius’ used in reference to Gene quite frequently . . . [and] it turned my stomach,” Stanley writes. “Neither Gene nor I has had an active hand in any significant deals. He was no marketing genius. He just took credit for things.
“We’ve always been very honest with each other,” says Stanley, who tells The Post that Simmons has read the book and “had no arguments with it.” Simmons did not respond to a request for comment.
As harsh as Stanley is with Simmons, he saves his real venom for former band mates Frehley and Criss. After it was announced back in December that KISS will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Barclays Center on Thursday, a public war erupted over which band members would play at the upcoming ceremony.
Frehley, Criss and the Hall wanted a reunion of the original lineup in full makeup; Simmons and Stanley refused, since KISS now has two other long-standing members in drummer, singer and guitarist Thayer. As of now, all four original members will attend the ceremony, but there will be no performance of the band’s music.
Stanley’s book sheds greater light on why he wouldn’t want a full-on reunion, recalling countless past times that Frehley and Criss, who have both had substance-abuse issues, were belligerent and even unable to play.
Stanley also accuses Frehley of stashing drugs “in the bags or pockets of crew members — without their knowledge — so he wasn’t on the hook if they were found.”
Even more shocking are his accusations of anti-Semitism against the pair. Noting that Frehley owned a collection of Nazi memorabilia, and that some of his earliest experiences with Criss involved the drummer racially mocking waiters at Chinese restaurants, Stanley writes that Frehley and Criss resented him and Simmons for controlling the band’s creative output — which Stanley says occurred because Frehley and Criss’ songwriting contributions “just didn’t amount to much.”
“Ace and particularly Peter felt powerless and impotent when faced with the tireless focus, drive and ambition of me and Gene,” Stanley writes. “As a result, the two of them tried to sabotage the band — which, as they saw it, was unfairly manipulated by [us] money-grubbing Jews.”
Stanley reiterated to The Post that yes, he does believe that Frehley and Criss are anti-Semitic.
“Yes, I do,” he says. “It’s based on years and years of interactions. It’s not pulled out of thin air.” Frehley and Criss did not respond to requests for comment.
For Stanley, though, navigating rough waters was nothing new.
He was born with microtia, a deformity of the outer ear that also left him deaf in his left ear. His outer right ear was surgically repaired in the early ’80s. He received no support from his parents, who had his mentally ill, drug-addicted, violent older sister Julia to contend with.
In the book, Stanley recalls a harrowing afternoon when he was left alone with Julia just after she received electroshock therapy, and spent the day evading her as she tried to attack him with a hammer.
KISS’ Paul Stanley tells all in new memoir
By Larry Getlen
Stanley says it took him decades into adulthood and plenty of therapy to help conquer his lack of self-esteem. He admits that painting his face for the band was part of that.
“For many years when I first put this makeup on, I had a sense of another person coming out. The insecure, incomplete kid . . . suddenly got painted away, and that other guy came out.”
Now 62, Stanley is finally secure enough to reveal himself to the world through his book.
“People have their beliefs [about us], and most, quite honestly, are based on conjecture,” he says. “I wrote the book about me, my life and my observations. I didn’t write the book to have the last word on KISS.”