Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Simmons' family to KISS and tell

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What you see on television isn't always an accurate reflection of real life, even when - and, in some cases, especially if - it takes place under the umbrella of a reality program.
But according to Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, the star of Gene Simmons Family Jewels, the familial strife that has dominated the program's highly successful sixth season is anything but fake. "What you see on TV is real," Simmons, 61, said in a recent interview with Postmedia News.
"Shannon is not very happy with me, and rightfully so."
One of the highest-rated and most popular shows on the A&E network, Gene Simmons Family Jewels sent the profile of Simmons, his common-law wife, Shannon Tweed, and the couple's two children, Nick, 22, and Sophie, 18, through the roof when it debuted in 2006. The lighthearted program is now broadcast to millions of viewers in 87 countries.
The current season is considerably more serious in tone, with much of the conflict falling directly at Simmons' feet. He faced the music on the show's Tuesday-night episode, which was billed The Kids Aren't All Right. And though his infamous antics appear to be genuinely hurting those around him, including his children, Simmons said it's important for the show to continue.
"I think it's good for me and good for the family," said Simmons, who shot recent Family Jewels episodes while on tour with Kiss.
"It forces myself and the family to confront issues that would normally be hidden. We've been together 28 years, and I don't know of a single highway you can drive on that doesn't have bumps in the road. Love is the answer, and if you care enough about somebody, you confront those issues."
The Simmons clan is attempting to put the drama - real or scripted - behind them, starting Friday, with a series of public appearances.
The patriarch promises full-throttle fun - especially for fans of his family.
"Everybody wants to meet them," he said. "Unlike me - the dark, brooding guy - the rest of the family is charming, and everybody wants to be around them."
Due to the nature of his show, and the likes of Twitter, Simmons' life is often laid bare for the public, more so than it ever was in the past. Simmons has played a huge role in that, having written or co-written four books that omitted nary a detail. He has also appeared in movies and on television for the better part of four decades, always with the intention of spreading the Kiss gospel far and wide.
Promotion took on new meaning when it was the real Gene Simmons being peddled, he said. And being at the helm of what he called "the longest-running celebrity reality show of them all" meant the stakes were even higher. These days, the man known in the Kiss universe as the Demon is required to play a more friendly game of ball.
Simmons has been very surprised by the outcome of his new approach. "The TV show, for me, is medicinal. I'm able to watch it and realize that I'm not aware how I come off. None of us are, really. If you can be a fly on the wall and watch yourself, sometimes (you'll find out) you're an a--hole. I can be short, I can be impolite and not be aware of it, and it certainly hurts people's feelings, especially those of Shannon and the kids. By watching the show, it's good for us. It's good for me, that's for sure."
What is good for Simmons has proven to be good, not only for his biological brood, but for his rock 'n' roll family, as well.
Kiss, has been drawing record concert crowds of late, while its last record, 2009's Sonic Boom, gave the band the highest chart debut of its 38-year career.
Not only is a new Kiss album halfway done, according to Simmons, a host of other ephemera is coming down the tube, too. Chief among those - which includes a joint venture between Kiss and Archie Comics, a Kiss Hello Kitty project set to launch in 250 countries, and a Kiss mini golf course in Las Vegas - are the speaking engagements in which Simmons alone instructs people on how to make more money.
Simmons, who is a partner in Cool Springs Life, a website which loans high net-worth individuals as much as $300 million, clearly loves this part of the job. "I make people money without ever writing a check to them."
His advice? "Stop spending stupid money. Stop going to the bars, stop smoking and drinking. I call it the Duh Syndrome which, when you think about it, covers a lot of stupid things."
He is living the life he's chosen for himself. Simmons, however, said he would give it all up in an instant if one day he stopped enjoying what pleases him to no end today.
"This is a privileged life. There are rewards. But at any time I could say, 'I don't want to do this, don't bother me,' and quit. I do it because I love it."


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