KISS brings their spectacle to Broadmoor World Arena

By: Jen Mulson / http://gazette.com

7:30 p.m. Monday, The Broadmoor World Arena, 3185 Venetucci Blvd., $39.50-$125.00; 520-7469, ticketswest.com

He's 66 years old and Gene Simmons says he's finally grown up.

In real life, that is. On stage he still struts around like the timeless performer he is.

Simmons, the longtime wearer of demoniac face paint and the owner of a preternaturally lengthy tongue, has been a much recognized name for more than four decades as the bass player, singer and most outspoken member of the hard rock band KISS. He also starred for seven seasons in the A&E reality show "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" with his wife, Shannon Tweed, and their two children.

The "KISS: Freedom to Rock Tour" will be at The Broadmoor World Arena on Monday.

Both age and a first marriage at age 62 to his longtime love have softened Simmons. "When a guy's young, the last thing he wants is to get married and have a woman tell him what to do," he says from Beverly Hills, Calif. "He just escaped mom. But all the stupid feelings we had about being domesticated are exactly what we should be doing a lot earlier. We're not mature enough to understand. Testosterone courses through our veins like Jekyll and Hyde. Later on you realize kids are the most important things. See? Women have been right all along."

One could say he has an excuse for not coming to his epiphanies sooner - an immensely successful career that began in the early 1970s after co-founding KISS with Paul Stanley. Since then the band has released 44 albums and sold more than 100 million albums packed with rock anthems, including "Rock and Roll All Nite," "Detroit Rock City," "Shout It Out Loud" and "Love Gun."

It also didn't hurt that the job came with adoring female fans and scads of money. On a memorably awkward episode of National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" in 2002, he told host Terry Gross why he got into the business: "Initially to make money and get laid."

"You've got this crutch around you - fame and fortune - telling you yes," he says now. "You're aware that the ultimate American aphrodisiac is fame and fortune. We don't make kings and queens - it's not royalty. Our royalty is celebrity. More women are attracted, it seems, to fame and fortune. You could be ugly as sin like Gene Simmons, but they could still come running from the hills."

These days Simmons does his best to stay at the top of his game - physically, mentally and emotionally. His wife and kids pull him out of bed at the crack of dawn for hikes and he works on feeling positive about where he is in life.

"The last thing you want to do is get on stage with America's No. 1 gold record, award-winning band and have the audience hear tuba music when you come out," he says. "The best self-care is not outside, it's inside - how you feel about yourself, the rest of the world be damned. If you're too tall or too short, everybody's got complaints. But if you've got a good head on your shoulders and feel good about yourself nothing else matters. Self-empowerment - it's not just a big word. Rich people complain all the time about how miserable they are. Poor people are thrilled to death to get up in the morning and smell oxygen."

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