June 16, 2012
By Sarah Thompson The Other Paper

After Russell asked his fiancée to marry him, he had another request: He wanted his friend Bryan Alexander, a Columbus-based Gene Simmons impersonator, to officiate at their wedding.

Alexander, who’s ordained and certified to perform weddings, agreed to the big Kiss fan’s request, and in October 2010, he wedded the two while wearing a replica of Simmons’s gray suit from the cover of the band’s 1975 album Dressed to Kill. He also donned Simmons’s noted mug paint and even sang “Every Time I Look at You” with the reception band.

The 115 wedding guests ate it up.

“There were more pictures of him being taken with guests at the wedding than I had done for the entire wedding itself,” said Russell, who declined to use his full name.

“The marriage didn’t last, but the ceremony was awesome.”

Since then, Alexander has officiated at two additional weddings as the rock legend, and he aims to do more. If he has his druthers, he’ll be doing at least some of them in Las Vegas.

“I got ordained two years ago for the sole purpose of going to the (Kiss-based) Hotter than Hell wedding chapel, which just opened in March, and getting a job there marrying people as Gene Simmons,” he said.

So far, that job remains elusive—“We’re speaking now, but there’s been no confirmation”—but he believes he’ll eventually land the gig. Perhaps his confidence stems from a 1995 run-in with the man himself, who told Alexander his Simmons impersonation was “pretty damn good.”

“So from then on, I continued. I said, ‘You know what, if Gene Simmons himself told me it looked good, I’m going to run with it.’”

Despite Alexander’s busy schedule—he’s also owner of a production company and record company, a COTA bus driver and a comedy-club performer—that’s exactly what he did. He’s landed regular impersonation gigs at class reunions and fundraising events, as well as at Smokey Bones in Columbus and Speeds in neighboring Whitehall.

Alexander also has performed in larger cities like Las Vegas and Orlando, and he entertained 2,100 guests at an event at Powell’s Bogey Inn.

The impersonator regales audiences with Simmons’s signature blood-spitting, fire-blowing and tongue-wagging shticks, as well as the typical song-and-dance, all services he’s also willing to provide at wedding receptions. And he’ll do it all in one of his custom-made Simmons-style outfits, part of a wardrobe that thus far has cost him around $4,000.

This might sound like a weighty—and perhaps unwise—investment. After all, isn’t the allure of a Simmons wedding likely to fade as the Kiss co-frontman is replaced by successive generations of rock stars?

Russell, for one, doesn’t think so.

“If this thing kicks off and he pursues his dream of performing more marriages, I think he’d have a waiting list (of clients),” Russell said. “I also believe there’d be people going back and renewing their vows.”

“I don’t think you’ll have anybody complaining.”