Here’s a translated (and edited) feature by Jan-Olov Andersson from the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet (11/23/1982) published following the group’s first stop on the European promotional tour for “Creatures of the Night.” Ace was interviewed…
I am tired of putting on make-up: Kiss guitarist speaks out
Yesterday, Gene Simmons of Kiss was interviewed on TV’s rock program Casablanca. Aftonbladet instead met guitarist Ace Frehley — a guy who has grown tired of the Kiss image — “I’m damn tired of putting on makeup. But I have to. At least it’s better than a boring nine-to-five job,” he said. Kiss has been one of the world’s most popular rock bands for about ten years. Not because the group’s hard rock is particularly remarkable, it is neither particularly good nor bad. No, the reason is Kiss’ image — they always perform with makeup on their faces and have a “cool” stage show with lots of smoke, fire, blood, and other scary effects. Gene Simmons is often considered the leader of the group. He is intelligent and friendly, and it is hardly a coincidence that he was the one TV’s Heléne Benno got to talk to.
No one should be seen without makeup
If she had interviewed Ace Frehley instead, the risk of many Kiss fans losing faith in their idols would have been quite high. I meet him at the Sheraton Hotel. There is a guard outside his room; no one with a camera is allowed in. They say it’s important for Kiss’ image that fans can’t see what they look like without their facial makeup. In the case of Ace Frehley, I understand why. Few rock stars I’ve met have had faces where ‘the rock ‘n’ roll way of life,’ with all that entails, has left such a clear mark. But he is nice and friendly and giggles happily when he greets you and opens a beer, certainly not the first of the day.
What have you done since you were last here two years ago?
“Was it that long ago? Yes, we haven’t done anything special except this LP. We don’t have a tour because we calculated that it wouldn’t even break even financially. “
Missing the small clubs
The guys in Kiss have never been hypocrites, and Ace admits that he’s tired of constantly putting on makeup. When it comes to music, he’s happiest when he can bang away in his own 24-channel studio in his Connecticut mansion outside New York. Or jamming with his friends at a small rock club. “There’s a certain feeling of playing in a small club, I miss it. Kiss have always played big venues since their breakthrough about ten years ago.”
The new LP Creatures of the Night, which Kiss is here to promote, is not much to talk about.
– “No, as you can see I haven’t written a single song. I was in hospital for most of the recording, I had a big crash with my Porsche, there were only crumbs left of it.”
– “Now I have bought a sports car, a DeLorean. After the owner of the car factory went bankrupt and got busted for drug smuggling, the value of the car went up, now I’d probably get 40,000 dollars for it, that’s almost twice what I paid, ha, ha.”
His laugh is whiny and hysterical, much like Gösta Ekman sounds when he exaggerates at his worst in a movie, and Frehley prefers to laugh at his own stories. Such as the one about the stuntman in Kiss’s feature film (which never made it to Sweden).
– “The whole movie was a fiasco. But the best part was that the guy who replaced me in the dangerous scenes was a black guy. Can you imagine that, ha, ha!”
– “By the way, do you know what happened the first time my daughter Monique, who is two years old, saw me with makeup on my face? She started crying! My wife calmed her down but when Gene came into the room it got even worse, ha, ha!”
Ace Frehley was 23 years old when he joined Kiss. By then he had worked as a postman and a taxi driver in New York. Today he is 31 and when I ask him if he is satisfied with how life has turned out, he says in short:
– “Sure, I’ve earned a hell of a lot of money, I never have to stand in line to get into a restaurant. And this makeup thing is good in a way, if I want to be anonymous I can be, only the worst Kiss fans will recognize me.”
My interview time is over. When I leave, he turns to Annika from the Swedish record company and says:
“Attica! Wasn’t that your name? Give me another beer!”