Taken from Daily Mail 12/11/11
The Greek Premier has got the boot. Berlusconi’s on the brink. Sarkozy and Merkel have panic in their eyes. Even Obama’s lost for words, let alone ideas, as financial meltdown spreads around the globe.
But one man thinks he has the answer. Or at least, an explanation for the chaos.
He’s called Gene Simmons, and if you’re not familiar with the name then you’d surely recognise the tongue. For it is Gene’s oral appendage, poking out like a vile pink lizard from a face slathered in black and white make-up, that has become one of the most celebrated and enduring trademarks in the music business.
As frontman for the band Kiss, Gene and his tongue have become pictorial shorthand for a life of hard rock excess. So if there is a more surreal experience than discussing solutions to the global economic crisis with a man better known for sleeping with thousands of groupies and resembling a demented bat while thrashing out bass guitar at ear-splitting volumes, then I’m not sure what it could be.
‘We’re in a mess, that’s for sure,’ Gene pronounces solemnly. ‘And why are we in a mess? It starts with the welfare state. When the government becomes Mum and Dad and when people want free cheques from the government the economy breaks down. You’ve got to make money mean something.’
Blimey. This is a long way from the screeching lyrics and pyrotechnics of Kiss’s stadium rock (sample album title: Psycho Circus). But then it turns out that Simmons, now in his 60s, has a lot more than rock ’n’ roll coursing through his veins.
Behind the make-up and microphone-bashing antics, he’s a shrewdly astute businessman.
Over four decades he has built up a multi-million-pound empire, saturating the market with more than 3,000 items of Kiss-branded merchandise (everything from coffins to condoms and coffee houses) and spreading his (bat) wings into even more unlikely entrepreneurial territory.
Who knew, for example, that Gene Simmons is the co-founder of ortsbo.com, the world’s largest internet language translation service? Or that he runs a financial planning business for high net worth individuals? (‘It helps if you’re worth ten to 20 million dollars’).