Updated August 8, 2021 - 12:12 pm
Gene Simmons had just recalled Kiss’ first show ever in Las Vegas, at the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts “in 1975, or maybe it was 1875, way back then.”
And as we moved to modern times, I noted the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts is now Zappos Theater.
Simmons knew where these notes were leading.
“You touched my private button,” Simmons said. “We are, in fact, my favorite band in the world, is doing a residency at the Zappos at Planet Hollywood December 27th through January and February, here and there. So check your local Funk & Wagnalls, or wherever you get information.”
Simmons’ reference was to the classic reference from the 1960s-’70s TV series “Laugh-In.”
“I’m a joker,” he said.
But seriously, Simmons made the disclosure during an interview at Animazing Gallery at The Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes, previewing his “ArtWorks” collection of paintings and sketches. The exhibit runs Oct. 14-16.
Three members of Kiss live in the Vegas Valley. Only co-founder Paul Stanley does not. Drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer are also locals.
But the band will be on the road just before loading into Zappos.
“We’ll be in the middle of a tour and we’ll be nice and greased-up by the time we get there, and it’s going to be a great party,” Simmons said. “It’s going to be a great show. There will be human sacrifices. Farm animals will not be harmed.”
The band is headlining its “End Of The Road” tour from Aug. 18-Nov. 4, then back on the road April 20. Kiss also played a nine-show residency at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in November 2014.
When asked if even two years down the road, the band would again seek a Strip residency, Simmons said, “Absolutely, yes.” Simmons also said the band plans to issue unreleased tracks “from throughout our 50-year career” but is not currently recording.
Simmons frequently flashed his sense of humor at the art gallery, which opens to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ second floor, next to Burberry and just down from the Atomic Saloon entrance.
He said he’s had both Pfizer vaccine shots, “And my a** still hurts.”
When told, “I was told of a Gene Simmons sighting the other day at a deli,” he said, “It wasn’t the Deli Lama? Or Dolly?” And every time Simmons said “Palazzo,” he followed with, “Bless you!”
When asked why he decided to move to Vegas at this point in his life, he said, “Well, it wasn’t for the 115-degree heat, but I am pretty much a salamander. I like to lay out on the rock.”
Simmons says the real reason was he was tired of paying state tax in California. He enjoys the city’s energy, too.
“There is no other city on the face of the planet that has so much going on in a smaller, confined space. There are more stars per square block than anywhere on earth, if that’s what floats your boat. If you like farmers, go somewhere else.”
Simmons has been painting since he was a child, as a way to express his thoughts after he and his family moved to New York from Israel. He did not speak English, but enjoyed speaking through sketches. He’s neither a trained artist nor a trained musician.
Rather, Simmons goes by feel, in his inspiration and also in fact.
“I want people to touch my art,” Simmons said, pressing his index finger to one of the untitled works at the Animazing Gallery. “Run your fingers across, and you start to understand the different layers of how I built this thing. I started off with a white background, and started creating different color hues. You can see the different colors, sticking in there.”
So don’t expect “Do Not Touch” signs at Animazing Gallery, owned by Nicholas Leone, who operates out of Houston. Simmons displayed four paintings at Friday’s preview, and has 30 more from which to choose when his show opens in October.
The bassist threw out a value on one of his paintings (none of which are titled), as $250,000. These pieces will be for sale, but the prices are not determined. These are rare works, of course, with unique provenance because of Simmons’ celeb status.
“What’s interesting about Gene’s work is how good it is,” Leone says. “He is very good.”
Simmons had met the Nick Leone and his sister, Karen Leone, “coincidentally and socially.”
They saw one of my paintings. They asked, ‘Who painted that?” and I said, ‘I did,’ ” Simmons said. “This was all their idea.”
Most of the paintings are abstract, Jackson Pollack-inspired pieces.
“There is no right way or wrong way to paint,” Simmons said. “This is only to express yourself.”
One of Simmons’ displayed piece is a self-portrait of him as a 5-year-old with his mother, Florence, a Holocaust survivor. As he walked through the space and looked at his creation, the rocker said,”I’m just thinking of this astonishing journey I’ve been on, for 50 years.”
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.