Achieving Childhood Dreams, Part 2 – I Met Gene Simmons!

by redpillpapa · 0 comments

in Art+Music,Character,General

Red Pill Parents, I have to share a dream fulfilled with you being that I recently wrote about achieving childhood dreams. I believe that keeping our childhood dreams, at least the one that are still pertinent, in our hearts as we travel through adulthood, helps keep us feeling young and prevents us from becoming cynical. This, in turn, helps us to be the best parents possible, with pure, playful and open hearts.

The back story of my rock star dream, which I confessed to you in my recent post, dates back to when I was seven years old and in second grade, just after my parent’s divorce was finalized (though they became separated when I was two and a half). Looking for ways to rebel and express feelings that I didn’t quite understand, I formed the ‘Bad Club,’ whose primary mission was to do bad things, and often found myself being asked to leave class, where I would create “artwork” on stairwell walls.  I also discovered and became The World’s Biggest KISS Fan at this time, developing an immediate infatuation with the costume-clad band (particularly Space Ace Frehley, whose guitar literally smoked when he soloed), eventually leading me to ask for and start guitar lessons when I was 9 years old.

The year that I started guitar lessons, 1979, through a family connection, I received my most prized possessions: four autographed KISS posters — one from each of the band members. Today, these hang proudly over my upright piano. They let our guests know that I am a KISS fan and they allow me remember the innocent days when reality and imagination were blurred by the smoke and fireworks. Plus, they fascinate my daughter when we sit together and play the piano.

It is now almost 33 years later and the founding members of KISS, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, are still stomping around in their seven-inch leather boots and make-up. I now respect Gene Simmons more for his business acumen than his musical chops, and I admittedly don’t carry any of their music on my iPod (though maybe I should as it will keep me close to my childhood dreams when I need them most!).

Now that you know Red Pill Papa a little more intimately, let me get to the point of this story: childhood dream fulfillment…

A birthday party for my friend, Tom’s, two year old daughter was the last place I expected to be told I’d be meeting Gene Simmons the following day working as Tom’s photography assistant at a promotional video shoot!  Sure I love photography, and am always happy to lend a helping hand, but I never expected it to be a backdoor to meeting one of my childhood heroes.

Monday afternoon arrived and, adrenaline pumping, I packed up my photo equipment, a copy of Gene’s book “Kiss and Make Up,” a sharpie pen and donned some rock n’ roll-looking duds and made my way down to the Ritz Carlton in Battery Park City. From the lobby, security escorted us up to a suite which had been made into a film set with lighting and a green screen backdrop. We all said our hellos, found out that Gene would be there on time at 4:20 PM, and set up our cameras.

As we (the video producer and 2 cameramen) bonded over Rock n’ Roll trivia and KISS stories, the moment of Gene’s arrival come closer and closer until the call that he was on his way up in the elevator came. Places everyone! Seconds later, the door opened and in walked Gene in full KISS regalia, followed by a clean-cut assistant of no more than thirty.

Camera in hand I started snapping a few shots while Gene discussed an issue with the producer. It was learned that this needed to be resolved with his Manager before filming could begin.  So there we were, 5 of us and Gene, a 60-year old man with a larger-than-life presence, dressed for Halloween everyday as a demon, in full body armor and 7-inch high boots. With five feet between us, surprisingly, I was not feeling tongue tied, I had no sign of sweaty palms and I didn’t feel my stomach about to take flight, so I took the opportunity to speak. “Hi Gene,” I started How were things on Wall Street today?” He had just come from ringing the closing bell at the NYSE as a Dr. Pepper representative on this, the 125th anniversary of Dr. Pepper. “The market was up. It always seems to go up when I visit,” he said confidently.

Since writing dialogue is not my forte, I will not try to recreate the conversation. We did talk about the economy, politics, and Haiti for about ten minutes. He was quite eloquent and his points would probably be popular with most Red Pill Parents. Some highlights were, when talking about the economy, he said the government should not give handouts to banks and corporations and should not give handouts to individuals. If the government is going to to give people aid, they should be willing to work for this money, “I don’t believe in just giving someone $100. If I give you $100, you should make me a sandwich or something.”  On rebuilding Haiti, he holds the wise and popular position, “If someone is hungry, don’t give them a fish. Teach them how to fish.” A very pleasant and level-headed dialogue with one of my childhood heroes. “No,” I have to answer my friends when asked, I did not pour my soul out to Gene, telling him that he’s responsible for getting me into music. I talked to him as my 39 year old self, not my 9 year-old self.

Gene’s manager, Doc McGhee finally arrived and sorted out the technicality and the interview began. Cameras rolled, and I started snapping away. I was impressed by Gene’s professionalism. He had his shtick down and knew how to answer questions like a rock star. He punctuated his sentences by sticking his famous tongue all the way out and doing the 3-finger heavy metal salute with both hands. He boasted of his prowess with women and spoke in innuendo.  I had to keep myself from bursting out in laughter two or three times and It was awesome!

Then the interview ended and Gene stood up and was almost out of the door when Chris, one of the camera men asked to take a picture with him. This gave me enough time to grab my book and my sharpie and ask Gene for an autograph. Gene fumbled through the pages looking for a white area to sign, eventually settling on signing over the picture of his made-up face on the back cover. Tom snapped pics of us as I stood there, waiting for my prize. Gene handed me the book and pen as he walked out of the door, and scene…

I talked politics with Gene Simmons and got his autograph. It took me 33 years to meet him (not like I really tried after turning 11 or 12), but there it was. On January 25th, 2010, I met Gene Simmons – one of my childhood heroes and it was AWESOME! One childhood dream achieved!

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