April 26, 2012
Mini Kiss started out as a novelty act as four little people dancing on a bar in costumes and make-up, lip-syncing to the lyrics made famous by their full-size original counterparts. It may have been a far cry from being taken more seriously as an actual tribute band at the time, but it beat the heck out of seasonal work as elves. Unfortunately, when it comes to finding work as a little person, this petite population usually gets the short end of the pun intended...really.

But in a classic case of "build it and they will come," the demand for more of this unique take on Kiss soon got to the point that it made those involved begin to think: "maybe we're onto something here."

They were.

"Mini Kiss was mainly created by my brother Joseph, a 4'4" little person," said Louis Fatale, manager of the group. "He was doing work as Oompa Loompas and elves to make money when a club in Manhattan wanted to do something a little different for Halloween. My brother was a huge fan of '80s rock and Kiss in particular, so they came up with the idea of using little people and calling it 'Mini Kiss.'

"They did their first show on top of the bar, lip-syncing to Kiss albums and it was a hit. Then as the years went by their popularity grew and grew, they became a tribute band—becoming one of the most popular little people tribute bands in existence."

According to Fatale, Joseph's passion for '80s rock was the catalyst for the whole act.

"I'm older than Joseph and he used to drive us nuts playing the drums," explains Louis Fatale.

But Joseph was inadvertently driving something else. His future in show business. The Mini Kiss tribute soon had a following so big it led to a dream come true for Joseph Fatale. Being on stage with the real deal Kiss.

"'Mini Kiss' did a Dr. Pepper Cherry television commercial with Kiss and were on Gene Simmons' realty show 'Family Jewels,'" explains Louis "They were on Conan O'Brien, they've toured with Perfect Circle and George Lopez."

Joseph Fatale died in August of last year and his brother Louis decided to keep what Joseph had started going.

"His dream was to be a rocker, but with his size it was tough, especially when the '80s were about the pretty-boy look—but he got to live his dream," says Louis. "He pioneered the little person tribute genre and his legacy lives on.

According to Louis, the act is a blend of imagery and reality.

"I won't lie, we use a lot of backtracks for drum and guitar solos," says Louis. "But everything else is live—the pyrotechnics and the blood spitting. It's very high energy. And there's no lip-syncing whatsoever."

Current members of Mini Kiss are Zach (Mini Gene), Jeremy (Mini Paul), original member Wilber (Mini Ace), and Stevo (Mini Peter)."

According to Louis, the challenges of putting together a show like this are many, with pitfalls and successes. Hey, it's like running a regular rock band.

"Sure, there are other Kiss tribute bands out there, but this is novel: it's Kiss, it's mini and it's in your face. It's the music, the painted faces and dressing the part to give people the wildest show possible, adds Louis. "Believe me, the wilder the crowd, the wilder the men get."

This means doing all the Kiss songs fans want to hear but also adding a few surprises with renditions of other '80s rock hits.

"They're ready to 'rock and roll all night and are looking forward to playing Laughlin," adds Louis.

MINI KISS performs at Tropicana Pavilion Theater this Friday-Saturday, April 27-28. 8 p.m. (See "Showtimes" for tickets).