LEGENDS AUTOGRAPH THEIR NEW BOOK
September 11, 2013
By Ryan Lavis/Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- KISS fandom was "Alive" on Staten Island as the rock supergroup's founding members traded in their patented face paint and Flaming Axe Guitars for a more literary pursuit -- signing copies of their new book at the Barnes & Noble in New Springville.

Over 1,000 members of the KISS Army descended on the borough Tuesday night, lining Richmond Avenue for a chance to meet rock icons Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

The duo, along with co-author Ken Sharp, were there to promote "Nothin' to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975)," which chronicles the legendary band's formative years.

Did you know that Simmons graduated from the former Richmond College in St. George with a degree in education?

It's true. But he went on to bigger and better things.

While the bandmates were dressed in relatively normal clothes for Tuesday's autograph session, many of their diehard fans sported the black and white face paint and flamboyant stage outfits that marked much of the band's career.

Complete with the iconic "demon" facepaint and black-winged full-body suit, longtime fan Peter Schepper waited in line for hours dressed from head-to-toe as Simmons, the group's lead singer and bassist.

A KISS fan from when he first head the "Destroyer" album in 1976, this Manhattan native even hand-crafted a marionette version of Simmons, later giving it to him as a gift.

"When I was a kid, I loved AC/DC and Judas Priest, but KISS had the image, man. They had the costumes and explosions. It was a fantasy and each of the characters was like a superhero."

As the long line to meet the band wore on, it became apparent that KISS nation spanned generations. Young rockers and their parents chatted over their favorite songs, as they encouraged their youngsters to "rock and roll all night."

"I've been a KISS fan since I was his age, so to me this is like bringing in the next generation," said Marc Weiner, of New Springville, as he stood with his 8-year-old son, Cole. "Being able to share something like this with him is great fun."

Nettie Gaeta, 11, and her little brother Anthony donned the "Starchild" and "Demon" face-paint that Stanley and Simmons wore respectively during their live shows. The siblings fell in love with KISS when they first stumbled on their dad's extensive record collection.

"We just started listening to them on our own and thought that it was awesome. Then we saw them live and it was so cool," said Anthony. "We were big rock fans before, but we didn't know what KISS was."

As fans greeted their musical icons, some were able to pose for photos, while others presented Stanley and Simmons with hand-made drawings and other memorabilia.

"I've seen them a lot in concert so to be able to actually meet them in person just takes it a next step higher," said Richie Horstman, of Oakwood Heights.

As another group of fans waited for their chance to meet Simmons and Stanley, they flipped through the pages of the new KISS book, pointing out their favorite band photos taken during their heyday.