T-Shirt of the Week: WEEK 28

tsotw-button-3b.jpgSome people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

WEEK 28: The first time I ever saw KISS was October 29, 1976, at my cousin Sean’s house, where we were watching the Paul Lynde Halloween Special. It was one of those pivotal moments of our youth—just as I’m sure it was for millions of other kids growing up in the 1970s.


Sean and I both become obsessed with KISS, which drove out mothers insane (especially my mom). When I tell people now about how much we loved KISS when we were kids, some people are actually surprised—black kids were into KISS? This is something that always makes me laugh. Sure, KISS was a hard rock band, but most kids in America in the 1970s who loved the band could name all the members, but not a single song. That was because KISS was not a band you fell in love with for the music…you fell in love with them because they looked cool.

Every summer Sean, his sister Cassandra and me would go to ghetto summer camp, where we would hang out most with other black kids, poor white kids and Puerto Rican and Costa Rican kids who would fight over which island nation was better. All the black kids would sit around and argue who was the coolest member of KISS—the frontrunners were always Gene Simmons and Peter Criss. And then there were those of us who were convinced Paul Stanley was actually black, because he seemed to talk just like a black guy. We even argued that he put make-up on his chest. Now, years later, I realize how ridiculous that was, because I now know that Paul Stanley is actually a black lesbian named Sha’wonda Jenkins, who is simply pretending to be a white Jewish guy. There is documented proof of this, and all you have to do is watch Paul perform live, and you will see that the way he moves and dances is exactly the same way as a black lesbian. His dance moves are also popular with many drag queens, but he has them down so well, that he has to be a woman. Want proof? Watch this, the performance from the Paul Lynde Halloween Special.

The first time I saw KISS was either in the late 1980s or early 1990s, back when they weren’t wearing make-up. I went with my friends Ted Pirro and Carl Jones (Ted could tell you which tour it was, because he knows all that type of shit). The opening band was Anthrax, and they effectively blew KISS away. I was pretty disappointed by KISS, as I had wanted to see them ever since I was a kid, but my mother refused because she was worried that they were cannibals (or some crazy crap like that).


This shirt is from the Farewell Tour of 2000, which was bullshit, because they have had something like 27 more farewell tours in the ensuing eight years. I managed to score three free tickets to this show at the last minute, so I took my friend Ron (also a childhood fan) and I scalped the third ticket, and used the money to buy this over-priced t-shirt. This was a much better show, even though Ted Nugent was one of the opening acts, and he sucked (as did Skid Row, which we thankfully only saw for one song). KISS put on a great show—and by that I do mean show, because it’s all about the presentation, and not really about the music.

I won’t lie by saying KISS is a great band. Most of their songs suck, and even the good songs—songs like “Rock & Roll All Night,” “Heaven’s on Fire,” and “Detroit Rock City”—aren’t really that good. And I find it somewhat disturbing how much they pimp themselves with lame merchandise—who the fuck wants to be buried in a KISS coffin or have sex wearing KISS condoms?—while at the same time acknowledging that these guys are pretty much the American success story. Here you have four guys of marginal talent, who put on a flashy show to hide the fact that they compose maudlin, sophomoric songs, and they have made a fortune by being more surface than substance. They are proof that mediocrity, when dressed up right, and backed by a good marketing strategy, can reap untold riches. That’s why you gotta love KISS.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: