And now a little rewind for you…
KISS seems to be getting more attention than ever thanks to their smoking new CD “Sonic Boom”, the “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” TV show and the always rousing concerts that they do for sold out audiences worldwide. With this being the case, I felt that I should go back into my personal archives and add some fun never before seen images to the PiercingMetal Blog so the readers of our adventures can enjoy them in terms of some KISS related fun. After all, they do no real good by being in a random folder on a hard drive only seen once in a blue moon by the occasional curious visitor to the Metal command center.
That being said, this little side story is not about KISS themselves but more about an event that was called the NY/NJ KISS Expo. It was an annual affair that was put together by Richie Ranno (of the band Starz) and was the means for those who sold KISS memorabilia and those who collected it to mingle together along with musicians that had some part of their history connected with KISS or were just interested in being a part of the fun. My friends had been going to this convention for years already but my first go round would be in 2002 but I could not find any photos outside of the scanned ticket below.
This event was in Hackensack, NJ and only $16 bucks to get in. That was cool to know since you would end up spending hundreds more in terms of KISS things you might have had interest in. If I manage to find any photos from that event I will edit the narrative to allow them to fit in. So far there seems to be only one which you get below.
The caption in the photo pretty much says it all, but yes ladies and gentlemen there is an all girl tribute to KISS and I thought that was pretty damn cool. I had spoken to their Gene a couple of times during that particular expo when she was not posing for the eager fans cameras and while she would eventually move over to the Ace Frehley role in the group, we managed to stay in touch for a couple of years. I wonder what she is up to nowadays. Hmmm.
I now fast forward to the Expos that were held in 2003 and 2004 since I had the most to display from them. Around the time of the 2003 convention I had just begun to toy with the idea of using my camera to capture and share special musical moments and jot down my words in the hopes to educate fans about music that was important to me. It was really the beginning of an interesting journey and I had just made contact with The Metal Circus website out in Barcelona, Spain when the first convention I attended had taken place. In 2003, the KISS Expo was held at the Sheraton Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ and it would be divided into two or the large banquet rooms. One room was all vendors of KISS Wares while the other was split in half to allow for performance space to be set up for live bands that would come on later. Now with wallet firmly in hand, I wandered these two rooms with my soon to be called PiercingCamera Mark I and snapped a handful of images of the day. But first the scan of the program for the days event.
These guides were free and while featuring some advertisements, also filled you in on some of the performer and appearing talent.
The first person I saw was former Adult actress Jasmin St. Clair who was signing all of her wrestling related DVD’s. Apparently she had gotten involved in the sport after leaving the industry and for those fans who wanted to pose for a photo with her, they could do so for $5. Don’t make a face as this kind of thing was commonplace at these kind of conventions and served everyone well in the end. I didn’t really know much about Jasmin back in this time, but would end up meeting her at numerous Metal events years later. She is a big supporter of the Heavy Metal music scene and a staunch advocate of the PiercingMetal way. I am glad that she enjoys what we do and we always wish her success in her own efforts. She has since released Metal’s Darkside II: Deeply Disturbed DVD’s and written articles in numerous Brazillian magazines dedicated to the Extreme side of Metal.
At the KISS Cons and Expos it was not uncommon to find people suited up as one of the bands roster and some of these folks did an amazing job of it. Case in point the young lady dressed up as the long missed Eric Carr. Her attention to detail was incredible and we gave many kudos to Erica Carr, The Foxette for letting us snap a photo. You can see some merchandise booths behind her.
Next up we ran into former Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian. We enjoyed his playing when he was a member of the legendary Progressive Metal band and were excited to hear his new work on the album Black Utopia. Suffice it to say, I have been spinning this CD since the day I bought it since it is that powerful. The album features guitar work from both Yngwie Malmsteen and Zakk Wylde in case you needed some prodding to look into it.
I mentioned how seeing people dressed up as various stages of KISS’ makeup years was pretty standard for the Expo. Here is a shot of our new friend Erica Carr and my buddy Chris who does a really mean Gene Simmons. I am not sure who was wandering the convention with him dressed as Paul, but it was a nice job as well. Too bad there was no Aces in sight as that would have made for a perfect photo.
Based on his being in a hurry to meet up with some people I was not able to get a solo shot of guitarist Bruce Kulick in addition to one with him so pardon my mug LOL. Many people might remember how Bruce replaced Mark St. John in the KISS lineup and began touring with them around the “Animalize” album. He would go on to record a number of records with the band and each of them remains special to KISS fans around the world to this day. Since leaving the band in 1996 when the Reunion Tour happened, Bruce has released a number of solo albums and continued performing. He is a great dude.
Here is an amazing KISS impersonator in the Goddess Of Thunder. I don’t remember her real name, but she was featured on a VH1 Program about KISS fans and she did an incredible job on her outfit. She was also pretty cool. She would end up joining an all-female Tribute to KISS called “Black Diamond” but that band no longer performs at this point in time outside of the occasional reunion show. To my knowledge the band was the first ever all female tribute to the Rock Icons. A photo of their earliest incarnation was shared with you at the beginning of this post.
We caught another Gene Simmons impersonator and he also had done a bang up job on his “Destroyer” era outfit. We asked them to pose together since the Goddess’ own threads were an homage to Gene’s beginnings back in 1973. They were both very, very tall.
Around this point in time we had gotten to meet the guys who made up the KISS Tribute band KISSNation and two of it’s membership roster were at the Expo promoting their new band ZO2. Pictured above is our Foxette from earlier and drummer Joey Cassatta from ZO2 and KISSNation. Both he and singer Paulie have since moved on from the KISS tribute and focused their energies on all things ZO2. I guess it was time well spent as the band has now released three full albums, performed to packed clubs and starred in two seasons of the IFC channel scripted reality show “Z-Rock”. Talk about having management that knows how to get things done.
Since KISSNation was performing at this particular Expo, it was not long before Joey and the guys were in full regalia. So I made sure to get the pair of them together once again since it looked pretty cool. Connie is dressed in Eric’s original look while Joe is sporting more of a “Creatures Of The Night” motif.
Closing up any of my images snapped at the KISS Expo for 2003, I snared a group shot of the many Gene’s we found wandering around and the Foxette and Paul. Of course everyone was looking at my buddy’s camera instead of mine so its a side view. Onto the 2004 images and thoughts. The event would be in the same place but the vendors this time around seemed to have less and less “cool stuff”. Yes there were action figures up the whazzoo and CD’s and official DVD’s but gone for the most part was anything labeled as “bootlegged” or unofficial. I’ve always been on the fence when it came to bootlegged stuff while some of my friends craved it like ambrosia.
This vendor had a lot of cool KISS t-shirts but I was not looking for those today, unless the item “spoke to me” as I wandered the aisles. I was looking for cards, key chains and buttons for the most part.
This time around there were even more musicians and many who had no real ties to KISS stuff but were important just the same. Above we find the calm and sedate “Metal” Mike Chlasciak who worked with Rob Halford on his solo releases under the Halford brand. I’m a fan of his playing and hope he does more work with his intense PainMuseum project again soon.
While looking at some KISS DVD’s I started speaking to the singer for a local original band called Pretty Suicide. Her name was Courtney and she and the band were taking part in some kind of KISS compilation. I believe that it was a complete song for song re-do of “Unmasked” called “Undressed”. Her band would play the song “Tomorrow” and it bears some Internet searching should you want to hear it. Since this Expo the band renamed themselves Future 86, changed some members and eventually broke up. Oh well, that happens more in Rock & Roll than can be counted. My flash on the camera was a little bright so I apologized after taking the shot.
Here’s guitarist Bob Kulick who worked with not only Paul Stanley on his first solo album, but was also a secret player on many KISS classic recordings. Yep, from time to time Bob would be the man in the studio doing the tracks that we would see Ace Frehley doing live and no one was the wiser until the remastered KISS CD’s came out and disclosed this face. Of course there was always a little bit of scuttlebutt about this being the case, but I am one that needs to see it written down to even begin to believe it.
This particular vendor had lots and lots of the bands action figures up for grabs. He even had those long ago Mego ones which you can see down in the corner. I know I still have mine somewhere and while they are no longer in the boxes (boo hiss), they are in really good shape considering their age. Yes, I do also have most of the other figures you see in this photo but not the weird looking ones in the lower left.
This giant of a man is Dale Torborg, the KISS Demon Wrestler. His creation was a gimmick done for the WCW branch of the wrestling sport and while it seemed cool it didn’t actually take off. Dale was the second person in the persona having inherited it from wrestler Brian Adams who only did one appearance. Eventually the idea was shelved which might have been for the best since no one “got it”. This photo gives you no idea as to how big this dude was. Here’s a shot of the mighty wrestler and Bob Kulick signing some of the fans possessions.
2004 would be the last time that I got to attend the KISS Expo because my writing adventures found me needing to be at shows on the same days that it was being held. I hated to miss out on them, but I did need to build my website into something for the fans of the Metal genre and hence sacrifices had to be made. Ranno would hold the Expo until 2008 but high costs of putting the event together and keeping it affordable to the fans were just not easily worked out. This would be the final edition of the event for the foreseeable future but perhaps the stars will align once again and find it happening once more. Only time will tell.
If you were a fan that attended or maybe even a participant in these Expos we would love to hear your thoughts about them in the comments section below. I know that I had a great time at the ones I attended despite not checking out the bands that performed so you can share the scoop on that part of the gatherings if you are so inclined. Thanks for listening, and thanks again to Richie Ranno for holding this kind of affair for 21 years. You are to be commended for that without question.
Official Website: http://njkissexpo.com/
Official Website: http://kissonline.com/
Official Website: http://kissnation.com/
Official Website: http://www.kulick.net/
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/bob.kulick.75
Official Website: http://www.dereksherinian.com/