By Glen Schaefer
My editor posed an interesting question, more of an order, actually – what would happen if you took an aging reporter (me) and put him in the full make-up of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons?
Then I realized that the fire-breathing, blood-spewing Kiss co-founder is a good 10 years older than me. Simmons has been at it for almost 40 years now, putting on the Kabuki face and the mile-high boots, while dodging the nightly onstage pyro explosions.
It seems to have kept him and his longtime collaborator, Kiss singer and co-founder Paul Stanley, in a state of perpetual youth.
As they head to Vancouver this week to launch Kiss’s Monster Canadian tour, the two partners are both into their 60s. They must be doing something right.
And did I mention that I’ve dabbled as a bass player myself? Forget dignity and bring it on.
I got together with make-up instructor Leanne Rae Podavin at the Blanche Macdonald Centre. She’s a specialist in movie make-up effects – she did some of the mutant effects in the X-Men sequel X2 – so doing me as the onstage Simmons was a piece of cake.
“For Kiss it was the mystery, the big boots, the make-up,” Podavin says of the band’s enduring appeal.
“For guys, make-up is usually frowned upon, but in my job I found that once men see themselves after I’m done, they become that.
“As for the band, they can change in the green room after the show and not be KISS.”
For me, it was the reverse. I got done up at the Robson Street Blanche Macdonald Centre, and headed out for a stroll to the nearby KISS pop-up store at Tom Lee Music on Granville. Thought I’d try on those big boots ($750 a pair) while I was at it.
What’s it like to take an afternoon stroll downtown as Gene Simmons? Check our video.