when i was a little girl, around 6 or 7 years old, i was obsessed with KISS. while other little girls had posters of unicorns and rainbows on their walls, my room was decorated with posters of Gene Simmons with his eyes rolled back in his head spurting out blood with that...tongue... wagging around. the first thing i ever purchased with my own allowance money was "Love Gun". i remember being in the store with my mom and she looked at the record and said, "are you sure?"
my brother had an 8-track in his bedroom, and i had found the cassette for Destroyer amongst his music collection and was immediately intrigued. i used to play that thing all the time, until i could afford to buy my own KISS album. Love Gun is still one of my favorite karaoke songs.
my little 7 year old friends were terrified to sleep over at my house on account of my Gene posters. i guess i saw through it all a bit, but i loved the theatre of it all... the makeup, the costumes, the pyro. i also loved, even at that young age, that my parents just didn't get why i loved this offensive band. my 7 year old self also secretly wished that the members of KISS really did have powers befitting to their characters. around this time i also became curious about religion, so i remember praying to god at night for forgiveness because i just couldn't help liking KISS, and they were clearly evil.
so one day at work, Gene Simmons came in. let me remind you that this is grown-up me, and i work for a television network, and my job is touching the faces of celebrities and music icons on a regular basis. no one ever really "throws" me... not to my face. i let them walk away from me before i have an "oh my god!!" moment. except that day.
when Gene walked in to the makeup room, he came flanked with a photographer (who happened to be my friend Telma) and a cameraman. we were introduced, we shook hands, and Gene and i locked eyes. say what you will about this man, that he's a douchebag, a sleazeball, a money grabbing opportunist... (and grown-up me agrees with all those things- although i am guilty of enjoying Family Jewels) but, he is ONE INTENSE MAN. i felt like i was locked into him. he's so tall and, well, intense.
then things immediately turned into a shitshow. i said, "Gene. So nice to meet you." and he pulled me in and bear hugged me. then he sang, "Fairy tales do come true... it can happen to you" as he snapped my bra strap on my back over and over. i think i turned 50 shades of red. he stood back, still holding my arms, and proceeded to "poke" my armpit with his finger, making this weird squeaking noise as he did so. i could not stop laughing. i turned into 7 year old me in one second flat...not that that kind of behavior had anything to do with my childhood, but you know what i'm trying to say. then he hugged me some more and held my face with his hands and put his nose on my upper lip, and sniffed. "i like how you smell" he told me. then i sat him down to do his powder, and he asked me for hairspray. so i helped him spray that helmet of hair he has... the whole while he blew kisses at himself in the mirror. i said, "Gene, you are a handsome and powerful man." he liked that. then he opened his pants a bit and pretended to hairspray his crotch. i told him if it needed hairspray, he clearly needed to trim.
as he walked out, i noticed his back was covered in some red fuzz, so i stopped him and was using the lint roller on his back... he stuck out his butt and said, "feel that." so, i did. he said, "not bad, huh?" and i said, "surprisingly, rock hard!" "you think that's hard?" he said, and took my hand and put it on his schmeckle. yup. i'm not kidding. i said, "wow, that's big. is that where you keep your money?" he did a huge belly laugh, hugged me again, and walked out.
so weird, but i was totally laughing and having fun even though it was kind of creepy. and i was blushing. a lot. oh, and a plastic severed hand that i had stolen from a hallowe'en party somehow made its way into the hugs...
the whole time Telma was snapping away on her camera.
it was quite the day at work. i met a childhood icon. wow. now, if you will excuse me, i have to go pray.