Night Flight wishes L’chaim and happy birthday to Mr. Chaim Witz, a.k.a. Gene Simmons

By on August 25, 2017

Happy Birthday today to Mr. Chaim Witz, better known as egoistic entrepreneur Gene Simmons of Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s KISS, and so, for all of you KISS fanatics and KISS Army soldiers out there wishing him well on his 68th trip around the sun today, we thought we’d point you to this oddball collection of random KISS interviews and miscellaneous vintage KISS ephemera — creatively titled KISS: Interviews — which you’ll find streaming over on Night Flight Plus.

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We probably don’t need to provide any biographical background about Gene Simmons — who recently abandoned his application to trademark the hand gesture commonly known as the “devil horns” less than two weeks after he filed it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office — since it’s easy enough to use your own google finger to find out what you need to know about the man (born Chaim Witz at Tirat Carmel, a city in the Haifa District in Israel, he emigrated with his Holocaust-surviving Hungarian mother to Williamsburg, Brooklyn at age eight).

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Plus, Simmons — who was recently awarded the top salesman of KISS merchandise for the fortieth consecutive year! — already self-promotes quite a bit anyway, almost as much as the current U.S. president does about himself.

Speaking of which, Simmons only made it to week three of The Celebrity Apprentice,” which tells us that The Donald preferred the company of Omarosa to Mr. Demon.

President Trump ended up making Omarosa the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, while Simmons didn’t get any kind of White House job as far as we know (even though he threw his support behind Trump in March of 2016).

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Read more about Gene Simmons and KISS: Interviews below.

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KISS: Interviews — released on DVD in 2011 by Blue Media Marc, meaning this is completely unauthorized collection that you’re not likely to find for sale on Gene Simmons’ personal website, where you will find everything from KISS condoms to KISS caskets — features promotional footage of the band, rare and sometimes exclusive uncut interviews, former band member’s personal film footage and video footage shot on the road by KISS crew members (when they weren’t too busy re-filling Mr. Demon’s blood cup).

Our favorite moment here is Simmons being interviewed (circa 1986) by one-time TV weathercaster and entertainment reporter Mark McEwen during one of those HBO interstitial segments they used to do back in the mid-’80s (back when the premium network would unscramble their signal for a weekend to get potential customers to sign up by showing them what they were missing).

McEwen — who had a massive stroke in 2005 that abruptly ended his TV career, which he survived and later wrote about in a very-detailed book — was one of four fill-in hosts who would regularly chat with celebrities in between the movies.

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In this roughly four-minute interview, Simmons — who points out to McEwen that he put his hair into a ponytail to look more presentable to HBO viewers watching at home — talks about his once-promising acting career (it was Simmons making all of the promises).

Simmons mentions his role in the 1984 sci-fi thriller Runaway, starring Tom Selleck and Cynthia Rhodes, and he also talks about his then-recent appearance on the HBO show “The Hitchhiker.”

He played “Mr. Big” on the January 1986 episode, “O.D. Feelin,” about the various unlucky owners of a bag of cocaine over the course of a single night; the episode also featured Sandra Bernhard (“Rat”), Michael Des Barres (“The Wise Man”), and Joe Flaherty (“The Chemist”).

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Simmons also talks about the first time KISS started wearing makeup — when they were still called Wicked Lester — and various other interesting tidbits which may be of some interest to KISS fans.

You’ll also see footage of the shooting of the “The Crazy Crazy Nights” promo video, lensed on August 8, 1987 at Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. There’s about two minutes of the band performing onstage, after we first get to meet some of their fans outside the venue.

There’s also an uncut eight-minute interview with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons where they discuss their upcoming album (Crazy Nights), and the band’s tour plans, and they also talk a bit about those fans.

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You’ll also see private video footage taped during June and July 1990 on the band’s “Hot In The Shade” tour, which contains rare soundcheck and backstage footage with former members Eric Carr, Bruce Kulick and Gary Gorbett (jamming the blues on a piano backstage).

You’ll also see Stanley and Simmons taping an intro (circa 1990) to raise money for The T.J. Martell Foundation, and and an interview with Stanley, prior to the KISS “Asylum Tour” 1985, where he discusses how TV networks were reluctant to play their “Who Wants To Be Lonely” video, among other topics, including Stanley’s take on the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC).

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Speaking of the PMRC, thespian Gene Simmons also appeared in the 1986 horror flick Trick or Treat, which you can read about in this previous Night Flight post.

Finally, there’s also a five-minute interview with the original KISS foursome where they announce their “Farewell Tour,” circa February 2000. Alas, that tour was not their last (sad-face emoji goes here).

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You may also wanna go here and check out our March 1984 interview with Gene Simmons interview by Night Flight’s own Lisa Robinson, which took place right after KISS’s first non-makeup tour.

Check out KISS: Interviews and other music-related interviews — including our very own Night Flight Profiles (which you can’t see anywhere else!) — over on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.