You wanted the best, you got — well, we don’t know if Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS (Scribner), drummer Peter Criss’ memoir, is the best at anything other than being what it is, but the book does deliver some primo rock sleaze. Here are our picks for the Catman’s gnarliest anecdotes:
(The easily offended should probably stop reading now.)
Sweet Pain: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was a rough place in ’60s, when Criss was growing up there. He fit right in, and not in some charming bygone outer borough way. Early in the book, Criss describes a gang encounter that quickly escalates into a blood bath. “This Puerto Rican kid was right behind me and he grabbed a garbage can lid and started beating my head in with it . . . I popped my switchblade out, turned around, and boom, the blade went right up his armpit and out through his shoulder.” Don’t worry though. “He was the first and only guy I’ve ever stabbed.”
Rip It Out: As Criss tells it, lethargic KISS lead guitarist Ace Frehley’s Spaceman persona wasn’t much of an act. At the latter’s first audition with the band, “He told us his name was Ace and he was from the Bronx but he really was an alien from a planet named Jandel.” Perhaps even more disconcerting was the fact that Frehley “wasn’t lazy, however, when it came to beating his meat. Every chance he got, he’d jerk off.”
Love Gun: Singer-guitarist Paul Stanley’s flamboyant omnisexual antics — onstage and off — caused some sordid speculation amongst his bandmates. “Paul’s sexuality became a topic of speculation even for us guys in the band,” writes Criss. “Paul always loved to doodle. And he drew the best cocks in the universe: He could have gotten a job working at a gay porno magazine. He had the veins down, he had the balls just perfect. Ace would say, ‘You gotta suck a dick to draw a dick that good.’ Gene would just sit there and not say anything but smile as if to say, ‘You Think?'” Also: According to Criss, Stanley stuffs his pants.
Dirty Livin’: Co-frontman Gene Simmons’ aversion to showering is one of the book’s leitmotifs. Evidently the dude stinks something fierce. Here’s a representative selection, as Criss describes hanging out with the Demon: “Every night he wore the same blue work shirt that said KISS on it, so he stunk to high hell. He still wouldn’t shower with us. He’d just take a wet rag and wipe off all the blood he spat during the show: down his chest, on his dick.”
Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll: Through all the excess, the obscene amounts of drugs, sex, and money, Criss remained a good Catholic boy. (Kinda.) “Even when I was on the road with KISS and I was having orgies,” he recalls, “I’d make sure to say my prayers every night. I used to call them my guilt prayers. By the end of the night there’d be three naked girls passed out in the room, but I’d be praying.”