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The community as journalist model is working a treat as Old Jim, a Crikey subscriber, got accreditation on the back of our good name to attend the Kiss press conference in Sydney at the beginning of their latest Aussie tour.

Already KISS have attracted a fair bit of media attention prior to their arrival in Australia. Richard Wilkins lead the way on the Today Show with a report that informed us that KISS were from Detroit and that they were touring with “long time drummer Eric Singer”. That’s two strikes already Dicky and the tour hasn’t even started. As all Crikey readers would know, KISS are of course from Noo Yoik and Eric Singer was only in the band from 1992 to 1995 – I’d hardly say that’s “long term”, although in these days of extreme labour market mobility, perhaps we can let Dicky off the hook for this one.

Old Jim’s brief was to uncover the goings on at this entertainment extravaganza and his findings are truly earth shattering.

Finding #1 – Effie (Mary Coustas) is not funny

After Old Jim opened the bowling from the Paddington end with a not unreasonable question regarding the whereabouts of “KISS Alive IV”, which was due to be released a year ago, “funnywoman” Mary Coustas in her guise as Effie attempted to take centre stage. (Incidentally, bass player Gene Simmons gave a vague and rambling response which did nothing to address this hack’s question, but Old Jim wasn’t going to challenge the God of Thunder and get into a Kerry Packer v Stephen Mayne-style slanging match.)

Unfortunately at events like these, some people with quite disturbing delusions of grandeur think that they are the main event. In 1997 it was that serial side-splitter Lisbeth “Elle McFeast” Gorr who tried to upstage KISS at their press conference, this time it was Effie.

Now this reporter has never been a card-carrying member of the Effie fan club, and her latest display did nothing to convert Old Jim. After her first couple of “gags”, lead singer Paul Stanley noted “this must be Norman Gunston’s daughter”.

No Paul, there’s an easy way to differentiate between the two – the Little Aussie Bleeder is funny.

Lead guitarist Ace Frehley didn’t say a whole lot during the press conference, but he did cackle an aside to drummer Eric Singer which Old Jim managed to pick up despite years of heavy duty rock’n’rolling – “She’s a f***ing moron!” Couldn’t agree more with you, Ace.

Other pearls from Effie included “Gene, you were born in Ishrael, what’s your theory on why the Palestinians and the Jews don’t get along?” and “If you could turn back time, would you want to go out with me?”

By this stage Old Jim was positively beside himself and was in need of heavy sedation to curb the laughing fits.

But Effie’s piece de resistance was when she mentioned “I thought Peter Criss was Greek but someone told me he’s Italian” This one went down like the proverbial lead balloon, as the KISSers dumped Peter Criss for their tour to Japan and Australia in acrimonious circumstances. Mercifully, in her one display of sound judgment all day, Effie yelled out “Next question” when she realised the lads were none too impressed.

Finding #2 – Skinny reporters from JJJ are not funny

Another aspiring “comedian” from JJJ whose name escaped Old Jim – and to paraphrase an early KISS review, “his name is not important anyway” – then tried to upstage Effie. Twig Boy first asked whether you could be court-martialled for deserting the KISS Army. At this stage Twig Boy could have used a Foghorn Leghorn-styled “I say, I say, that’s a joke son”, because nobody in the press conference recognised any humour in this effort.

Still thinking he could make a name for himself, Twiggy later asked Gene whether “it’s true that you don’t play ‘God of Thunder’ immediately after ‘God Gave Rock’n’Roll To You’ for the theological issues which arise”.

As you read this question right now, you’re probably thinking it couldn’t have been intended as a joke. It’s that unfunny. Well, Twig Boy seemed to think he was funny, because he was in stitches at his satirical brilliance. But when Gene retorted “what issues?”, Twig Boy was at a loss to follow up. Twig Boy died a painful death under the spotlight very quickly, thankfully never to be heard from again.

Finding #3 – Angela Bishop does her research

Channel Ten’s entertainment reporter, Angela Bishop (daughter of Bronwyn), rounded out (no pun intended) the press conference by noting “Rumour has it that you guys are quite successful with the ladies”

No shit Sherlock! Bronnie’s little girl then asked whether “at any stage you had a killer line which always worked”.

Paul Stanley summed it up succinctly – “You wanna f*ck?” I should add in order to avoid any confusion that Paul Stanley was most definitely not propositioning Bronnie’s little girl, that was his answer to her question.

Finding #4 – Entertainment promotions are vacuous, pretentious affairs

Well, that’s basically telling Crikey readers to suck eggs, but this hack has to state it for the record now that he’s experienced the glittering world of the rock’n’roll press conference first hand.

Unfortunately the boys in KISS are masters of the clich – both in their music and in their interviews – and the press conference was yet another opportunity for them to trot out many familiar old lines. Sure, the repertoire gets rejigged every now and then, but hardcore fans who hang on every word the KISSers have to say wouldn’t have heard too much new information in their press conference offerings. The coffee and biscuits courtesy of the International Touring Group went down a treat, though.

*******

The KISS press conference was a surprisingly tame affair. There was the predictable grandstanding by nobodies who don’t know their role, there were the tired old cliches trotted out by the band, but disappointingly, there wasn’t quite the needle you’d expect at a KISS press conference. The journos were surprisingly soft on the band, in stark contrast to the press conference for their 1997 tour where tempers flared a wee tad when they were asked whether they weren’t just a bit too old for this caper.

Sadly this event was all over in about half an hour – after the obligatory photo shoot, presentation of four oversized plaques commemorating a million sales in Australia, and about 300 flashes of Gene Simmons’ 7 inch tongue, KISS were on their way.

Over the next couple of weeks, Old Jim goes on tour with KISS in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and puts the music industry critics under the microscope.

Peter Fray

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