Upfront

Mar 22, 2018 - 4:00 PM

Paul Stanley might not be the first name you’d free-associate with the words ­“private aviation,” but as our cover photo suggests, the Kiss lead singer certainly knows his way around a business jet. He also knows more than you might expect about overcoming adversity, as he explains in Margie Goldsmith’s engrossing interview.

Stanley was born with microtia, a congenital disorder that caused deformity and deafness in his right ear and made him the subject of relentless bullying during childhood. As he candidly tells Margie, he saw rock and roll as “a remedy to my pain” and a way to achieve a position “where people would wish they’d been nice to me.”

Today, Stanley ranks among the most successful rock stars of all time, but he says that emotional scars from his childhood remain. Determined to help people who deal with the sorts of challenges he encountered, he is a spokesperson for a charity called AboutFace, whose mission “is to promote and enhance the positive mental and emotional well-being of individuals with facial differences.”

Kiss have had their share of controversies and public spats over the years, though most have had the benefit of keeping them in the news cycle. Whatever you think of their music, you’ll have to agree that they are branding masterminds (anyone remember the $4,000 Kiss Kasket?) who know how to stay in the spotlight. Show me a person who can Google “rock band Kiss” and not fall down a rabbit hole of drama, gossip, and colorful quotes and I will show you a person with more self-control than

I.As the web posts suggest, Kiss has millions of admirers but also a whole lot of detractors. Among the latter group, suggests Stanley, are many of the people who select inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he says has historically “despised” the band. He adds that he enjoyed a “victory lap” when they were finally inducted in 2014. No wonder he looks so satisfied in videos of the ceremony, as rock artist and longtime fan Tom Morello introduces the band with lines like these:

What if you had never seen or heard Kiss before? What if you had never heard a note of their music, never viewed a YouTube clip, never seen a reality show featuring any of the members? And what if you wandered into a divey club in your hometown and saw Kiss in all their glory, thrashing the place to the ground? One guy belching fire and spraying blood past his gargantuan tongue. A drum riser bursting through the roof. A guitar player so incredible his axe billowed smoke and shot rockets. A frontman flying back and forth across the joint like a superhero Tarzan. All of them in frightening horror movie/comic book superstar, sexifying kabuki makeup. All of them in black and silver warrior bondage gear and seven-inch platform heels. The place blowing up with explosions, screeching with sirens, raining confetti, all to the pounding soundtrack of bareknuckle badass heavy-duty liberating rock and roll.

What would you say if you saw that? You’d say, “That band’s [expletive] awesome and deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!” That’s what you’d say.


P.S. As regular BJT readers know, Margie Gold­smith is not only a first-rate interviewer but also an acclaimed travel writer, and we are proud to report that her article “A Very Frequent Traveler Looks Back”  recently won three awards, including a gold prize, from the North American Travel Journalists Association.