Before they were the fully made-up rock stars who co-led KISS into international superstardom, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were very different people.
In fact, one could argue the two had nothing in common except for their shared characteristic of having almost no makings of heavy metal legends.
But they proved everybody wrong.
In Radar‘s exclusive sneak peek of REELZ’s upcoming documentary, KISS Frontmen: Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley, the project’s creators peel back the curtain – and the heavy face paint – to explore how Simmons, an Israeli immigrant, and Stanley, the son of Holocaust survivors, managed to reinvent themselves and transform into rock ‘n’ roll characters with out-of-this-world names like Starchild (Stanley) and Demon (Simmons), which were necessary to match their out-of-this-world personas.
The original masked singers (not to be confused with the big names competing anonymously on Fox’s singing competition) went on to take the world by storm with spectacular stagecraft that included pyrotechnics, smoking guitars and fire-spitting antics.
“I don’t think they sat down and said, ‘Let’s be dual frontmen.’ It was just like, ‘Hey, you’re doing that, I’m doing this, I guess we’ll [be] frontmen,'” recalls Binky Philips, a high school friend of Stanley. “It was just, ‘I’ll do my thing, you do your thing, and it’ll work.'”
Larry Mazer, who managed the group from 1989 to 1994, adds, “I think people accepted right away that this is what this band is: there’s two lead singers.”
Mazer goes on to describe how they differed. “Gene Simmons, he’s the one who spit fire during the song, Firehouse. And Paul did all the talking, Paul did all the raps between songs. So he was more of the typical frontman, whereas Gene was the ‘demon.'”
The documentary even includes decades-old footage of the bandmates.
“Everybody’s got a very vivid imagination,” a much-younger Simmons tells a reporter outside a concert venue. “You kind of get what you see; you see what you get. But it really doesn’t mean anything.”
The statement prompts the perplexed man to ask, “But what are you?”
“What am I? I don’t know. What am I?” ponders the musician, before sticking out his famously long tongue.
Panning over to a glossy-eyed Stanely, the rocker smiles and tells the reporter, “Yeah, you know, I like stars. And I like dressing up. This is kind of, like, something I picked off the racks in the local store.”
KISS Frontmen: Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley debuts Saturday, February 12 at 8 PM ET/PT on REELZ.
Watch REELZ on DIRECTV 238, Dish Network 299, Verizon FiOS 692, AT&T U-verse 1799 and in HD on cable systems and streaming services nationwide. Find REELZ on your local cable or satellite provider at reelz.com/get-reelz/.