KISS Launches Multimedia Blitz

by Marcus Errico

Hide the kids, the KISS Army is mobilizing. And there's no escape. The original members of the gleefully shamelessly glam band--Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss--complete with their monster makeup of yore, will be embarking on a blood-puking, fire-spewing, stage-exploding national tour beginning, appropriately enough, with a Halloween night concert at L.A.'s Dodger Stadium.

For this tour, the gimmicky band promises yet another gimmick: 3-D. Concert-goers will be issued special specs to view eye-popping effects on and around the stage. And, keeping with the theme of their latest album, Psycho Circus (available Tuesday), all performances will feature real carnies and acrobats.

"We promise you this is going to be a kick-ass show!" Stanley proclaims. "We're issuing a challenge to every band that's been coasting for years,we're raising the bar," growls Simmons. "We're going to bring fun back to rock 'n' roll."

That's got to be encouraging to the nation's arena and stadium owners. When Stanley, Simmons, Frehley and Criss reunited for a world tour in 1996, they left all the other old-fogey performers (Styx and Steely Dan, included) in the dust, grossing more than $43 million on their way to becoming the year's top live act.

The concerts, drawing a broad cross section of baby boomers, twenty somethings and teenagers, proved not only the enduring appeal of showmanship ("Lookie, that demon guy flies!"), but of the band itself.

Of course, KISS isn't just a band, it's an industry--these guys have never never met a merchandising deal they didn't like. Among the tie-ins they'll be hawking this time out: a Pscyho Circus home video, KISS: The Second Coming (a behind-the-scenes video of their last world tour), KISStory II (a 9-pound, $160 "ultimate collector's bible"), dolls, comic books, a magazine, (a subscription-based Web site/Internet Service Provider), Visa card and the KISSmobile (a specially modified, $75,000 Plymouth Prowler, one of which will be given away on New Year's Eve in the Rock City itself, Detroit--contestants enter via a $1.99 per call 900-number).

Speaking of "Detroit Rock City," the anthem from KISS' Destroyer is also the title of the boys' first big-screen endeavor, in which they'll star as their late-'70s selves. In the film, Edward Furlong (Terminator 2) and Natasha Lyonne (Slums of Beverly Hills play KISS-obsessed teens bent on sneaking into their fave band's concert.

If that's not enough KISS for you, the fellows will be all over Fox next month. Their Halloween show (featuring a supporting turn from the Smashing Pumpkins) will air at midnight on the net, and they'll also appear in the October 30 episode of Millennium, playing--surprise!--themselves.

With the rockers doing so well in middle age (they average 48), it looks like KISS will keep going well into senior citizenship. (Hey, the greasepaint really hides those wrinkles.)

Says Criss: "I'll play with these three guys till I die."