November 08, 2009
By: Morley Walker

THEY say you never forget your first KISS.Russ Antymis was 12 when an older cousin turned him on to an album by the American heavy-metal glam rockers. Now 36, he's still listening.

"It's the makeup and theatrics, and I love their music," says Antymis, a math and science teacher at Elmwood High School.

"I love that fun, heavy kind of feeling."

As a card-carrying member of the KISS Army, the group's international fan club, Antymis nabbed four tickets in Row 11 on the MTS Centre floor for Monday night's concert.

He'll be there with three friends, and he expects they'll all be in costume.

"I got my first Gene Simmons costume when I was in Grade 6," he says. "It was a mask and some paper tied with a string. But I built my own for my friends' Halloween wedding social in the mid '90s."

In the spring of 2008, he was driving to work, listening to CITI FM, when he heard that a local theatre troupe was auditioning actors for a KISS musical to be staged at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

"I had taken drama in high school," he said. "I parked on the side of the road and wrote down the number."

He went to the audition in full Simmons regalia and got the part. The musical, Lester Gets KISSed, made best of the fringe that year.

Its producer and co-writer, Kevin Doherty, is remounting the 13-actor show this weekend at the Ellice Theatre to get fans in the mood for the concert.

Tickets, $12 each, can be had at the door both tonight and Sunday. Show time is 8 p.m. The Ellice Theatre is at 585 Ellice Ave.

"We sent an email to the band's management offering them comps, but we haven't heard back, Doherty says.

"They've got the night off, so you never know."

Winnipeg musician Kelly Fairchild of the local tribute band the Paul Stanleys caught up with the current 35 Alive tour in California earlier this year.

"It's an awesome show," Fairchild says. "It's great for KISS fans because they do the whole Alive album (from '75) front to back. And they've brought back the fog, which they hadn't used in a while."