March 25, 2012
Written by Jill Halpin
Photos by Bill Bresler | staff photographer

There are legions of followers of the 1970s-era glam rock-and-roll band KISS.

And then there is Rick Hoffman.

You can call Hoffman, a longtime Canton resident, a fan, but that would be an understatement at best. He is, in his very own words, “the number one KISS fan in the world.”

In fact, Hoffman is such a KISS enthusiast that he has devoted a room in his house to the band. He decorated and customized the room: a half-bath on the first floor of his home that has become a shrine to KISS lead singer Gene Simmons and his band mates. It is a sight to behold, complete with a special-order black sink, black toilet and, of course, black light.

However, the black light is not the only light in the room. The bathroom features multiple lighting options including a red light and a regular overhead light as well as customized murals and specially designed handmade plaques featuring busts of KISS band members.

And that is only the beginning.

KISS logo

There is also the etched mirror with the distinctive KISS band logo, the “KISS Army” logo above the light switch and the clock resembling the cover from KISS' Destroyer album, not to mention Simmons's face in his classic pose — tongue out — on the back of the sliding door.

Hoffman is smitten with his creation.

“The best thing about it is that it's been three years and every time I walk in there it's still just so cool,” Hoffman said. “It's the best room in the house.”

As the owner and operator of Artworks by Red, a custom graphic arts and signage business that provides banners and signs for many area businesses, local schools and sports teams, Hoffman is accustomed to working in creative design.

He said he was moved to refurbish his bathroom a few years ago after visiting a KISS-themed coffee shop in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Hoffman and his wife, Gail, were visiting their son, Donnie, on leave from the military, when they happened upon the KISS Coffeehouse in a popular shopping area in Myrtle Beach. Of course, he said, they were compelled to go inside and look around.

Buying power

“We left a few hours later, $200 lighter with no coffee,” Hoffman said. “But we sure had a lot of KISS memorabilia.”

However, it was the memory of the coffee shop's bathroom, outfitted in KISS collectibles and souvenirs, that stayed with him after his return to Michigan. It was not long before he knew he wanted to replicate it in his own home.

“It was just so cool,” he said.

Gail Hoffman gave the final okay for the project.

“I knew he loved it when we were in Myrtle Beach,” she said. “Once we got home, I said, ‘You want to do that to our bathroom, don't you?' I told him to go ahead, you only live once.”

Educated at Ypsilanti's Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College in graphic arts and design, Hoffman grew up in Livonia and graduated from Bentley High School. He has lived in the Canton area for the past 18 years.

Armed with a lifelong interest in drawing, Hoffman said it took him a few weeks to re-design the bathroom and just another two weeks to finish it.

It was his artistic background coupled with his devotion to rock and roll that led him to undertake the one-of-a-kind KISS bathroom project, he said.

“I've always had an interest in graphic arts, always been good at it,” he said. “And I've always loved KISS.”