The Great Unmasking and Other Embarrassing Moments in KISS History

The Knights In Satan's Service are back, and they'll be rocking the Toyota Center Saturday night as ably as a couple of 50-somethings lumbering around on platform boots can reasonably be expected to. There will be blood, as Paul Thomas Anderson might say, and flames, and a couple of guys in "Spaceman" and "Catman" makeup you've never heard of.

The band has been around for over 35 years, which would more than qualify them for pension benefits from the KISS Army. As in any band of that longevity, there have been highs (Alive II) and lows (Animalize), KISS has also seen more than their fair share of dreadfully embarrassing moments, a few of which Rocks Off is going to describe for you here.

"I Was Made for Lovin' You," 1979

If you were to slice Rocks Off in half like a tree and label the cross-section, the KISS-free rings would radiate outward from the release of this quasi-disco monstrosity. It was the beginning of the end of our love affair with the band, and a fitting epitaph to a turd of a decade.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, October 31, 1976

It's perhaps testament to the band's reputation that they could get away with appearing on a cheesy 1976 variety show and still endure as one of the most revered hard rock bands of all time. It was an hour long (itself testament to the lack of entertainment alternatives in the 70s) and a seven-year-old Rocks Off soaked up every minute. Now, of course, we can't help but wonder if Gene nailed Marie Osmond that night.

Gene Simmons' Family Jewels, 2006-present

Ozzy Osborne has a lot to answer for, not the least of which is the continuing trend of shows based on rock stars' home lives. Nobody's interested in cameras following Simmons around while he goes shopping or listens to his spoiled kids drone about school (though we admit to being a fan of wife Shannon Tweed's... earlier work). Find us the backstage footage from that tour KISS did with Sabbath and we'll talk.

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, October 1978

When even merchandising king Gene Simmons is unwilling to cash in on something (he compares Phantom to Plan 9 From Outer Space), you know it ain't good. What's funny about this scene (which, again, a young Rocks Off caught during its highly rated TV premiere), is how actually bad-ass the song by "Evil Robot KISS" is.

Unmasked - September 18. 1983

That dull rumbling you heard across America in late summer of '83 was the culmination of a million rockers muttering "What the fuck?" under the breath. Say what you want about the careers of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, they at least had the brains to leave the band before this fiasco.

With Buckcherry, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5, at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 866-446-8849 or

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar