After nearly a ten year struggle, Lydia Criss has published her book around the life of Peter Criss. Lydia was married to Peter from 1970 until 1978. It's titled - Sealed with a KISS. Pre-orders of the book started in August and the book was published in late October. Lydia kindly gave KISSinUK an interview. The book is an insider's view of life in the KISS machine in the 1970's. For orders, please surf onto Lydia's website - www.lydiacriss.com Sealed with a KISS is coffee table book with many unpublished and private photos of Peter and Lydia and KISS.
Lydia Criss interview
- 1 When and where did you meet Peter Criscuola? Some of your photos of Peter in the mid/late 60’s he could easily pass off as a Beatle. He was greatly influences by the Fab Four?
A - I met Peter on July 3, 1966, in a local club/bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and of course, we were all influenced by the Beatles.
- 2 The ad he placed “drummer willing to do anything” has now entered KISS mythology - what were your first impressions of meeting Gene and Paul, you actually took the call.
A- It's in the book.
- 3 The early days of the Daisy and Coventry gigs, the Hotel Diplomat showcase - you mention pay was better in cover bands. It must have been tough. What genres of music would Peter play ….
A- Initially the pay was better, but in the long run, once KISS got rolling and famous, there is no doubt the KISS pay was better. When in cover bands, Peter would play mostly R&B/Soul with some top 40 songs.
- 4 Alive! Recorded at Detroit’s Cobo Hall - the light at the end of the tunnel - the band going on from support slots to headlining shows to selling venues out. The boys must have been relieved that all their hard work had paid off ….
A- Somewhat. You can never let your guard down. They were successful, and the hard part is sustaining it.
- 5 Can you tell us the story behind Beth and who was the original Beck(y)?
A- Yes I can, but I have told this story so many times including at the very first KISS Convention that I ever attended in 1988. I also tell this story in Sealed With A KISS, along with pictures of the original girl it was written for.
- 6 Your big moment, receiving the People’s award on behalf of KISS - the secret was out - Peter was married! It was your song - what was it like ….
A- It wasn't supposed to happen that way. I was supposed to accept the award with the speech I had prepared, but I was never told when to go on stage. Bill Aucoin, sitting next to me, shoved me out of my seat and said “Good Luck”. Because I went up before I was supposed to, I stood on stage as they played a prerecorded tape of KISS thanking the people for the award. There was never a chance for them to introduce me, and Dick Van Dyke (the emcee) must have been told who I was and said “By the way that was the wife of the drummer Mrs. Peter Criss” not knowing that it was a secret. I didn't know that this had happened until I got back home to New York and received a tape of the show. There was nothing we could do by then.
- 7 Would I be right in thinking late ‘78 – early ‘80 - you entered a private hell - problems with your marriage, uncontrollable Peter, the other woman, closed ranks in the KISS/Aucoin camps, your health. How did you survive?
A- I didn't think I would be able to get through it, but thanks to family and friends I did, and I am a stronger person for it.
- 8 Your life after the divorce, became more private. How did you start your professional photographic career?
A- I was always interested in photography, something I acquired from my mother. Then I was intrigued with watching Bob Gruen and Barry Levine taking photos and decided that's what I wanted to do. I took photography classes while I was still married to Peter and I continued photographing from there.
- 9 You had relationships with musicians and a second marriage – weren’t you feeling - once bitten twice shy? “Never going to date musicians again” is commonly heard.
A- That is exactly how I felt. Only problem, is most non-musician men just don’t turn me on, physically or mentally as much as a musician does. My second husband wasn’t a musician, but he worked with musicians. He was a sound engineer. I thought it would be safe to have someone close to musicians, but not necessarily one himself. Guess I was wrong once again.
- 10 You sold a lot of your KISS items in a garage sale in 1981 - what was your thinking behind that. Then in 2003/2004 you sold through an auction house. Was this for the same reasons.
A- In 1981 I was moving to NYC and wanted to lighten up on the stuff I was moving. In 2004 I was talked into doing an auction by Jacques van Gool of Backstage Auctions so I made that decision with no regrets. Because I sold all my KISS memorabilia I was then able to publish Sealed With A KISS.
- 11 In the book you mention your friendships with Jeanette Frehley, Sean Delany, John Belushi and Jerry Nolan and also your “nemesis”/enemies - Alan Miller and Debbie (Peter’s second wife). Can you briefly describe your relationships with these people. Have you made up with Alan and Debbie?
A- I never had a problem with Alan, I just felt that he had one with me. Whenever I was with Alan or around Alan, we were friendly, I just think that deep down he didn’t like me mainly because I was female and married to Peter. Alan has since passed away, so my last dealings with him was before my divorce from Peter. As far as Debbie, are you kidding me? What can I say?
- 12 -When was the last time you saw Peter and were you on friendly terms?
A- 1995 and yes we were on friendly terms.
- 13 Could you describe in a single word ….
A- No. They are all to complex to describe in one word. Wait a minute, there is one word for all of them - SUCCESSFUL!!
- 14 You are currently in a relationship with Richie Fontana - a musician not really known this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The story, told in your book, of your meetings over the years is a humorous one. Are you active in his musical career as you were with Peter?.
A- Of course I am supportive in whatever Richie does with his career, obviously as you can see by the fact that his website & CD are linked to my website. He is the love of my life and one of the most talented people I have ever known.
- 15 Is this book, Sealed with a KISS a sort of closure for you? You have struggled for nearly a decade get it released. We wish you every success with it. What are your future plans?
A- Sealed With A KISS hopefully is my closure. I might want to publish other books, not necessarily KISS, but probably a photo book of my Rock & Roll photos. I also have a children’s book in mind.
- Thank you Lydia for answering the questions. We wish you every success with it. We hope you and Richie are happy and we hope you might decide to visit the UK once again - as you did on your honeymoon (to Peter) and in May of 1976
A- By the way I was in England on my honeymoon in May, 1970 not 1976. By May, 1976 KISS were on their first European Tour.
England is one of my favourite places. I haven't been there for quite some time (1992), and I do think that I am due to return with Richie. Lydia Criss