The Hottest Band in the World!

This shrine in particular is going to be less "informative" and moreso me rambling about the given subject. ♥︎ Preemptive content warning for sexual content and death.

Man, oh man, what can I say about KISS that hasn't already been said a million times before? They're amazing and badass, they're incredibly silly and not to be taken seriously. They're musical geniuses to be praised, they're only good at marketing their image. I guess a word I could use to describe them is 'camp'. For those unfamiliar with the term, to be 'camp' is to disregard the conventionally good in your craft in persuit of what truly sparks joy within you. Some think you can't force camp, some think you can, that's another conversation for another day though. KISS, in my professional, homosexual opinion, is undeniably camp. In their time they were incredibly unique, visually of course. Who was the first to what genre is forever a hotly debated subject, yet the highly specific idea and excution of their personas is forever tied to not just KISS as a band but 80s Glam Rock/Hair Metal as a whole.

If you know me personally, you're most likely already aware of the fact that my particular flavor of gender heavily relies on the aformentioned campness of KISS, with hints of other 80s fashion. Of the members of KISS I do have my favorites which I will discuss here, starting with Paul Stanley - the Starchild. I think what draws my attention to him is the feminine, sexual energy with which he carries himself. In stark contrast with The Demon - Gene Simmon's persona - Starchild is much more tender and graceful. At the same time, he also radiates a sense of power or confidence. Funnily enough, I think the best allegory for Starchild would be a rose - which Paul Stanley actually has tatooed on his shoulder! It's the symbol of love and a beautiful flower, yet its stem is encrusted with sharp thorns. Another great show of this contrast is his in-character hand-written letter featured on the inner cover of the KISS album ALIVE! which is a recording of their 1976 tour, Dressed to Kill. Note that their actual names and the names of their personas are used interchangably.

My Dear Lovers,
Nothing arouses me more than seeing you getting off on me. It makes me work that much harder to please you. My body is yours, yours is mine. We explode together when I’m on stage, I’m yours…. take me.
Paul Stanley

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't like men. However, this makes me want to scream in a good way. In a sort of envious way. Of all the classic rock men I've had the pleasure (and displeasure) of learning about, Starchild encapsulates how I would like to be percived in an almost perfect way. You can probably tell by the sheer length of my writing that I'm still not done with things I have to say about this band, and for that I have to praise you for your observational prowess and admit that you'd be correct! I still have plenty to say about my other favorite member, Ace Frehley - the Spaceman (or Space Ace!)

There's quite a bit I have to say about this man, so forgive me if I seem to jump from point to point. Ace is an interesting specimen. His persona is heavily based on his fascination with space and his tendency to dissociate or "space out". One could make the comparison that Spaceman's counterpart would be Catman (as an earthly being), similarly to how Starchild can be compared to the Demon. Just as a quick aside, I don't particularly support Ace Frehley as a person. He's done some questionable and cringe things that I won't delve into here. Ideally, I just want to take his gender and leave. Anyways, the idea of being an otherworldy being thrust into human society that idealizes the black and white while shunning the gray shades of nuance. The chef's KISS *ba-dum tss!* of gender. It's something I relate to heavily since I've always felt like a fish out of water in my daily life, and typically ostracized. Ace's characterization of Spaceman is clunky and gives a somewhat ditzy energy, but this lends itself very well to the core concepts of the persona. Why would anything alien feel natural or earthly? Any normal person would look at him and think "What a little freak," and they would be correct. Blondie's Rapture is about Space Ace, the man from Mars Jendell who went from eating cars to eating bars to eating guitars - and lo and behold, the mad lad can shred. While I still have you here, I'd like to bend your ear about the various Space Ace costumes - I think my top three would have to be the Destroyer era (love the little planet and asteroid details on the vest), the Elder era (the asymmetry is so daring, I think, though I've heard a lot of people actually don't like this one!), and my top favorite being the Dynasty era as pictured to the left here (seriously, why aren't we wearing capes more often? Or just flowy clothing in general?).
For consistency's sake, I'll pop Ace's letter from ALIVE! here as well.

Dear Earthlings
The gravity on Earth isn’t quite the same as it is on my planet, but I’m slowly getting used to it. I always wanted to play lead guitar and express myself visually to an audience. When I play guitar on stage its like making love. If you’re good you getoff every time. Thanks for helping me get off
Love Ace

Oh, Ace - never has someone been so deserving of a good whack on the head with the horny bat. If I'm not mistaken, this man has actually used his guitar to masturbate on stage which in and of itself is kind of impressive but still something I'm going to bully him for. He also had numerous kinks and fetishes - one of them being a piss kink. As funny as that one in particular is, I'm quite grateful for it because it's the namesake of an event that I now partake in with my KISScord homies, (if you guys are reading, hi! I hope you're enjoying my novel ♥︎) our weekly ritual "Piss Night". We get together in call and watch videos or just hang out. Bless up to Mr. Frehley, thank you for being weird enough to be a squad joke, but I'm still sending the weird WWII obsessed bastard to Brazil.

Well it certainly looks like I'm an enjoyer of lead guitarists. Maybe it's because I want to shred like them, too. This is Vinnie Vincent, his persona is the Ankh Warrior - but it was very short-lived, since shortly after their debut, KISS ditched the makeup entirely. This was most likely due to the fact that at this point in time, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were not in the band. My personal headcannon is that they felt having 2 completely new people in the band would throw the vibes off. Also an interesting thing to note is that the Demon, Starchild, the Fox, and the Ankh Warrior are all on the same side of the color wheel (they can all be interpreted as "warm") while Space Ace and the Catman are on the opposite side of the color wheel (they're cool colors). Just an interesting quirky little thought I had. Certainly it wouldn't relate to any real-world circumstance. Anyways, Vinnie has an amazing sense of style, and his asymetrical guitar is such an iconic look. The Ankh Warrior look is the only KISS facepaint to use the color gold. However, I don't actually like the way it looks on Vinnie's face. I think it makes him look like a muppet (fake fan, am I right?). In all seriousness, I love Vinnie's work on the few songs he did. He really made Creatures of the Night the perfect album for me to start on, along with Eric Carr's outstanding drumming.

Truly, I couldn't ask for a better segue. Eric Carr's visage on Creatures of the Night is what sold me if I'm being honest. Allow me to paint a picture for a moment - one warm September morning, a Sunday, I'm at the local outdoor flea market. People come from far and wide to sell their wares, and there are countless stands shilling vinyls, casettes, and CDs - most likely bought and resold. An old man had his booth equipped with 5 foldable plastic tables, all connected to make one big spanning counter. And covering every inch of this makeshift counter were bins, filled to the brim with CDs, neatly categorized by genre and alphabetically, the spines conveniently facing outward so the titles and artists were visible. The bins were just tall enough to have two layers of jewel cases stacked inside. Under other circumstances, perhaps I would have been too overwhelmed to look through it but something drew me in, straight to the section labeled "METAL". I perused, noting some familiar names. In the vast sea of Crüe, Iron Maiden, Metallica, and more, the vivid blue of CotN drew me in. I plucked it out of the bin and my eyes were instantly drawn to Eric Carr. Allowing myself to fall further into the cover, I acknowledged the glowing eyes of Gene, Ace, and Paul staring right back at me as well, completely contradictory to the deep monochromatic blue. "This one," I told myself "and I'll get another one too, from a different band. My taste has been leaning this way lately anyways." (That second album being Mötley Crüe's Girls, Gilrs, Girls.) Being quite pleased with my haul that day, I had decided to wait until I got home to have a listen to my new albums. But which one would I pick first? I held them both in my hands looking back and forth between the two, deciding the one that came first alphabetically would be my first listen. And wouldn't you know it, KISS beat out Crüe this time. I popped the disc in my player. There are many memories I wish I could experience once again for the first time, and the rush I felt after listening through CotN for the very first time is definitely one of them. The intro drum fill for the album's title song immediately set the tone that I carried with me for the rest of the album; and it set my standard for what I would consider a "good" KISS album (and perhaps even a "good" drummer). I decided then and there that KISS would be my new favorite band, and Eric Carr my favorite member. Of course, with my luck, I pick the one member of KISS that has passed. Carr died aged 41 with declining health due to heart cancer. He suffered a brain hemorrhage which ultimately ended his life.

This doesn't discount the huge impact that both Eric and KISS have had on my life, however. Just a month before my acquisition of my first KISS album, my childhood dog, Ginger, had passed away. For personal reasons, I won't delve into detalis about my childhood and home life - just know that they were not enjoyable experiences. Ginger was, for the longest time, the only stable thing in my life. She was my best friend, and one of the best dogs you could ask for. It was hard for me to fall back on my old interests, since somehow, my brain would find it's way back to her. This new but very familiar band ("You've heard of KISS, right? The guys with the makeup?" "Oh, no, yeah I've heard of them - that one guy with the long tongue, right?" "Right") provided some level of escape. Life could go on and still spark joy even if Ginger couldn't be with me for the rest of it.

Eric was, I think, a very beloved member of KISS and a very talented drummer. He is certainly missed. If not for my on a whim decision to buy that particular album, and to listen to it right when I got home, perhaps I wouldn't be where I am now. Certainly, I wouldn't have the lovely friends I've made through mutual interest and love for the silly little glam rock band. The universe has it's weird ways of sending messages. I can't exactly convey the feeling through words since language is so limited, but it's probably something like - the things you love leaving you, and learning to love anew, through the pain. And though it hurts sometimes still, your love will come back for you through echoes.