Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gene Simmons and His Brood

I saw Gene Simmons sitting in the commisary at work yesterday. There he was, the Prince of Darkness all by himself in a business suit, enjoying what appeared to be an amusing text message on his phone. He stood out among the employees, grips, gaffers and best boys eating their grub, his hair like Brillo and as black as the soul of the demon he is in the legendary band Kiss. Although the people around him were studio employees whose run ins with celebrities going from ADR suite to sound stage are a daily occurrence, there were still double takes, whispers of "Gene Simmons" and looks of  "wow". He sat at the head tables near the entrance where everyone could see him. It was as if his selection of seating was deliberate, as if he wanted the attention, basking in the glory as he ate his lunch.

A&E canceled his reality series Gene Simmons' Family Jewels recently. When the show first premiered, I couldn't understand why we needed to see another rock star living the dream. However, I watched with curiosity. The episodes seemed loosely scripted. Situations felt forced and fake, obviously manufactured by story producers and perhaps by Simmons himself. But something emerged through the silly set ups and the usual behind the scenes drama: Gene Simmons and his now wife Shannon Tweed raised the most awesome kids - Nick and Sophie. The whole family unit, despite pre-marital issues, parental conflicts and the rock and roll world in which they revolve, is pretty down to earth considering Simmons' proclivities. (He loved the ladies and visa versa despite pledging is troth to Tweed.)

As I walked by Simmons, I wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed watching his emotional visit to Israel, where he met his other family, the one his father made after he left his mother decades before. How touching it was to see him genuinely moved by meeting his half brothers and sisters who all had kids that looked like Sophie and Nick. I wanted to tell him how the tears he shed at his father's grave provided the most heart wrenching, real moment I've ever witness on reality tv. It wasn't an act. It wasn't just for ratings. This was heavy stuff.

But I went to the salad bar instead. The Demon is just too cool.

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