KISS FANS PUT SAULT IN RUNNING
by Frank Dobrovnik
Cdr. Paul Berlingieri of Kiss Army headquarters, Sault Ste. Marie division, was 'ecstatic' when his favourite rockers announced they would conduct their upcoming summer and fall tour based on the whims of their fans.
'I figured there must be a way to get people to vote,' said Berlingieri, who in real life is a 33-year-old elementary school teacher.
In what is believed to be the first-ever 'fan-directed tour,' Kiss is literally asking their fans to tell them where to go, 'whether they have to play a big city like Detroit or a corn field in Iowa,' he said.
That was two weeks ago. Berlingieri's ecstasy turned to something else in the following days as he logged on to kissonline.com and, despite his most diligent voting efforts, watched Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., linger around the bottom end of the top 200 cities. All that changed this week. He and a friend contacted Trevor Zachary, marketing and events manager for the Essar Centre, who spread the word.
By mid-Monday, the Sault was closer to the top 100; by Tuesday morning, it had cracked the Top 10. An apparent frenzy of voting leapfrogged it to No. 3 by 3:30 p. m.
The Sault is surrounded mostly by much larger centres, most Canadian.
Winnipeg has topped the list from the beginning, followed Tuesday by Oshawa, Kingston. After the Sault, Calgary, Toronto, Dallas, Peterborough, Ottawa and Edmonton round out the list.
Votes are weighted on a per-capita basis, so Belingieri is confident the Sault is on the map for a typical 20-to 25-city tour.
But even he couldn't have predicted 'we'd get up there that fast. I guess I didn't realize how many closet fans there are out there.'
Though the city boasts a 'strong nucleus' of fans it's not a hotbed of Kiss Army members, he said. Rather, he thinks the typical resident is attracted to the idea of seeing the spectacle that Kiss has become known for in its 35-year career.
'I think Kiss has been around so long that everybody knows about them and their fantastic stage show. It's a show you have to see at least once in your life.'