Gene Simmons Private Party

November 2, 2002, Brisbane, Australia

By: Brett Laird

We (myself and my pregnant fiancée) got there at 2:30 P.M. and the place was fast filling with KISS fans. We met up with Brett & Donna Bartlett from the former Aussie fan club 'Radioactive' as well as Mark Bridge from the new and current fan club, 'Inner Sanctum.' This private event was Mark's idea and by the looks of him, he was glad that the day had arrived.

We showed our $200 AUS tickets and were given another ticket with a number for entry to meet Gene and the drawing of the 'door prizes' which were kindly supplied by a long standing KISS merchandise supplier here in OZ, Toombul Music and of course Universal Music.

At about 3:30 P.M. they announced that Gene would be there at 5 P.M. and in the meantime they would be playing some video clips that Gene would be using on his 'Speaking in Tongues' tour. Now, I don't know how many of you people out there have had kids, but having my pregnant partner hear the announcement and realize that we would have to wait another hour and a half before he got there (let alone the time it would take to get to the front of the line )....well all I can say that it wasn't pretty! She is 5 months pregnant and I am lucky that she was so understanding.

They started to draw the door prizes around 4:15 P.M. and the giveaways were really good. Lunchboxes, CD's, Alive! Mini Busts, caps and a bunch of other stuff. Now I have never won anything substantial in my life but ticket number F100 was drawn and I won a Very Best of KISS CD and a Farewell Tour Cap. This was great because I bought the hat in April last year but as is with all my stuff, if I don't have a second one, it doesn't get used. Now I can put this to good Suffice to say I was suitably impressed!

They also had souvenir passes on sale for $10 AUS which of course I couldn't pass up (after conferring with my 'better half' of course). Met a few more KISS fans that I have seen around the expos and then we eagerly awaited the arrival of the 'God of Thunder'. The 'Gene Girls' filed out of a limo and had one hell of a photo opportunity but for the life of me I cant see why these girls were picked! Not to Gene's usual standards I think...but maybe I am just picky...I love my lady and there is no one else that comes close. One of them said to me, "I hope you're going to put that (camera) to good use"...I said "Yep, just as soon as Gene gets here". I don't think she appreciated that too

At 5 P.M. on the dot the 'Demon' arrived and the lines started to form. As we were waiting in line, they had arranged to play us some unreleased music that Gene had brought with him. It was re-worked versions of songs like "Getaway" and I think "I" was in there somewhere too. The thing was that they were done in a sort of 'swing' style, very different but quite good. It took us a further hour and 45 minutes to get to him and just as we were about to meet with him, the guy that was directing people said, "No more, Gene has to go".... If you've ever seen The Exorcist you can imagine my fiancée's reaction to that!!! "I've been in line for nearly 2 hours...I'm pregnant and I am NOT happy so let us through." And you know what happened...we got I was waiting for her head to start turning but luckily, we got to meet Gene. He didn't rush us and signed 4 things, my KISS Pinball manual, his book, solo album and the 1st edition of GS Tongue (which he smudged badly and it ended up on the back of the solo album...not happy Gene!). His first words to my fiancée were, "Are you hoping for a girl" to which she said, "Yes". He then said, "Well its going to be beautiful" and I though... 'if you're thinking of finding her in another 18 years, forget it Gene'

I'd been racking my brain over the last few weeks just trying to think of a question to ask that didn't get an 'atypical' response from him. In the end I couldn't think of anything fantastic to ask so instead I said to him, "Gene, you get asked so many questions and although I could ask yet another, I would just rather say Thank You". At that time we shook hands and he looked me straight in the eye and said, "You know, that's the best thing someone can say to me and I so appreciate it. It means so much to me to hear that and I mean that truthfully". With that, we got some pictures taken and had a beautiful one taken with his hand on my lady's belly and giving a little rub for luck.

Now we've all heard Gene before doing the schmoozing to the fans but I looked this guy square in the face when he said that and I believe he is genuine and does really appreciate it. I was one of those who thought when I heard him say similar things that it was all show but I have to say, he's got my vote...still! That's something to be said...coming from a Catman Fan! I tell you, it all went so fast and I'm just trying to recall it all. I'd say we had about 3 to 4 minutes with him which was about what we were told we'd get (80 seconds per person)

I have to also say that my Fiancée is not a huge KISS fan (I know, its hard to imagine) but she was rather impressed with Mr. $immons. Her words on the way home were that he was "very calming" to her and he seemed "very spiritual". Now that's something coming from her, I can tell you! just days before I was begging her NOT to tell him she thought he was

After we parted company with him, he was whisked away upstairs to do some media interviews which left about 20 to 30 people standing there without so much as a handshake! Now if it were me I wouldn't of been happy either but luckily, the line was reformed at the bottom of the stairs and after the media interviews were over, Gene graciously agreed to continue the meet and greet about 45 minutes later. We left after our meeting with the demon but called a friend who was 3 people behind us in the original line and just as we got back to the Gold Coast from Brisbane (via McDonalds) he was just coming out. That was over an hour later. Apparently, Gene stayed for as long as the line was there and wasn't rushing anyone. Now THAT impressed me too.

So here I am, 2 days later and back in my home state of NSW (a 10 and a 1/2 hour drive from Queensland). I'm now getting excited about my next meeting with Gene...tomorrow night in Sydney for the 'Speaking in Tongues' tour. I was originally just going by myself and had a 4th row center ticket but now my fiancée is going with me after we got FRONT ROW tickets from someone who couldn't make it down from Brisbane...Thanks Nick!!!

Mark Bridge did one hell of a job setting this up and all the fans that were there owe him a ton of thanks. It may not have gone as smoothly as everyone would have hoped but it happened and its a memory that I'll keep with me for the rest of my life.

Kind Regards,
Brett 'Catmanfan' Laird