I WALK into the room and he hugs me like a randy uncle. Gene Simmons from KISS, the most outrageous member of that most outrageous band, is hugging me - and dancing like your dad...
The American shock rocker, famous for his extraordinarily long tongue and bizarre stage make-up, is hip-thrusting away in a room at St Martins Lane hotel in London and insists on playing me every track from his solo album, charmingly entitled A**hole.
It's going to be a long afternoon.
Simmons - who turns 54 this
year - has had a career that spans 32 busy years in which he has
fathered two children, sold 90 million records - and, by his reckoning,
slept with more than 4,000 women.
Four thousand six hundred to be
precise. Women, he says, are partial to his long tongue.
It must be the tongue -
watching this middle-aged
man with long, dyed-black hair, strutting to his own music, it's hard to
see what else he has to offer.
But sex is a preoccupation.
It's all he wants to talk about, and as I walk into the room he asks:
"Do you want to see my family portrait?" He unrolls a poster
of himself with more than 30 semi-naked women.
If he's trying to shock, it
works - but only because I'm already wondering how he pulled those
thousands of women.
Gene Simmons was born Chaim
Witz in Haifa, Israel in 1949. His mother Flora was a Holocaust survivor
and she moved with him to New York when he was nine.
It was when he first saw the
Beatles on TV as a teenager that he decided to become a musician.
"The Beatles changed my
world. I thought that's how you do it. You can have a job and the girls
will want to have your babies. Even an ugly guy like me can get laid if
you strum a guitar."
THIS is a man who believes his
"honesty" is a breath of fresh air to women.
He has a charming line in
excusing his insatiable appetite for cheating on his partner Shannon
Tweed, the mother of his two children, Nicholas, 14, and 11-year-old
"The male species
manufactures billions of sperm," he tells me. "It's our duty
to do what the Old Testament says, which is 'Spread Thy Seed'.
"The only problem with
women is that they think all those sperm we make is just for them. But
the honest truth is it's not. I would urge all guys to stop lying to
He's lost me - but looking at
me earnestly he continues: "If you and I were an item I would look
you in the eye and say: 'I desire you with all my soul and all my heart
- but I want your mommy and your sister too.'"
His justification for being a
serial shagger is hilarious, but I can't imagine how Shannon - a Playboy
playmate and once the star of erotic thrillers - has put up with him for
20 years. "Privately women say all men are dogs - and that's
correct," he says. "If we had been monogamous in the days we
all lived in caves, the next generation would be cross-eyed and
retarded. It is because the male of the species is polygamous that the
gene pool is healthy."
A Nobel prize for science is
surely on its way...
Included in his estimated 4,600
women he's been with are such famous exes as Cher and Diana Ross. But
there is only one woman he says he has ever really answered to.
"I have been happily
unmarried to the same girl for 20 years," he explains. "But
the only one who ever had a right to ask me where I was going was the
one who gave me birth. My mother. In return for life, she can ask me
where I'm going."
Goodness knows where this
conversation is going though - he peppers it with attempts to lay on the
charm in his own unique style.
"You're very cute,"
he says. "If only I wasn't gay. I'm a lesbian, you know."
I smile kindly - and ask him
about that famous tongue of his. It launches a full-blown rant about how
it's been a public service to all women.
"It's ironic that I'm
mostly known for my tongue which is a hideous thing. But it's every
girl's best friend - no batteries required. Now it's time for everybody
to know me by another body part - my a**hole. I am one you know."
Probably - but Gene is
referring to his new album which is out in May, only the second solo
album in a music career spanning more than 30 years.
The tracks veer between hard
rock, blues, pop, ballads and a cover of the Prodigy's Firestarter.
But he's more keen to talk
about the part of his anatomy which the album is named after.
"We've all got a**holes.
I've got one, you've got one, the Pope's got one. I'm going to have
a**hole parties and you have to be a real a**hole to get in. You'll get
For all his talk of women and
sex, Gene's real vice is something much, much worse.
"Cake," he says.
"I just love it." But, unable to help himself, adds: "If
a woman was a cake I would not only f*** her, I'd eat her too."
Gene is feeling guilty today.
Picking at a salad, he looks serious for the first time during our
interview. "I let myself indulge yesterday - and I feel really
guilty. You don't want to see me get up on stage and see fat-ass Gene?
It's tough but you've got to maintain it. This morning I had a chocolate
chip muffin. I stuffed my face like a Christmas goose."
Gene is not your average music
legend. While he's done all the sex and the rock and roll, you will
never hear stories about the drugs. He didn't make his £75million by
being in a drug and booze haze.
"I've never been high or
drunk in my life or even smoked a cigarette. What's sad is that
everybody has the same reaction - the inference that of course everyone
has been high on drugs, and that's pathetic. Even people who take
sleeping pills and muscle relaxants - they're drug addicts."
When asked about his good
friend Ozzy Osbourne, Gene looks genuinely sad. "I love the
Osbournes to death. I'm sorry Ozzy did that to himself for 30 years. He
deserves better. Why would you succumb to something that robs you of
Another subject Gene is serious
about is politics. And there's good news for George Bush - when it comes
to the Iraq situation, Gene is right behind him.
"I prefer John Kerry's
environment policy. I support his policies on women. I prefer the
separation of church and state. I don't like a lot of these ethical
points of view that George Bush has.
"But do I want Kerry as
President of the United States? No. Bush is a mongrel. He is a cowboy.
He can't even pronounce the word 'nuclear'. But this is the worst enemy
terrorists have. And that is precisely the guy you want in charge.
"When the world is going
nuts you want a guy who is nuttier than them. I want a rabid hawk. I
want a warlord.
"Wait until a guy walks
down the street with a suitcase with a dirty bomb. Then you won't think
your Prime Minister is such a bad guy. As soon as everything is back to
normal and we've got peace I want to get George Bush out and get someone
who is reasonable. "
Meanwhile Gene is keeping in
shape. In May he will tour with Kiss for five months and take in
America, Australia and Japan.
The biggest influence in his
life was the Beatles and he still admires British performers today. He
loves The Darkness, and Robbie Williams who dressed up as Gene for the
video of his smash hit, Let Me Entertain You.
"We're trying to get the
Darkness to open for us on tour this year. In England it's cheeky, like
they're having fun but in America they're perceived as serious.
"Robbie lives right down
the road from me in Hollywood Hills. I thought his video was great and
was the sincerest form of flattery."
Gene's own pace is hectic. He
has crammed in 32 KISS albums, endless touring, acting roles in films
and TV shows, writing books, running a magazine and overseeing KISS
merchandise. And all that sex.
Now, at 53, he would love to
take up golf.
"But I just don't have the
time," he sighs. "The only hobby I have is me."