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© Bill Green, 1973
New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1973 – Academy of Music
Using basic supply-and-demand philosophy Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley decided that what the rock world needed in 1972 was a group that could do a really wild, entertaining stage show. Bands that had been successful at that in the past—Alice Cooper, David Bowie, T Rex—had quit performing. Wanting to fill that gap, they decided to form a hard rock band with a theatrical theme. The two spent a lot of time in 1972 and 1973 researching their idea by seeing other groups. One, in particular, influenced them greatly, the New York Dolls. The Dolls were famed for dressing up in drag when they played. Stanley and Simmons then recruited a drummer and lead guitarist for the band. Peter Criss was found through an ad he had placed in Rolling Stone. Ace Frehley was recruited by an ad placed in the Village Voice. With all the elements in place, the group rehearsed in a Manhattan loft, named themselves Kiss and started experimenting with makeup and theatrics that would become the backbone of their stage show.
Deciding the drag look would not work for them, they hit upon the idea of getting made-up like fantasy characters. Their look, although not intentionally, was similar to Japanese Kabuki Theater. Simmons appeared as a monster with leather bat wings and scaly platform boots, characteristically wagging his 7-inch tongue in and out of his mouth for effect. Stanley was the lover, with pouty lips and a star over his right eye. Criss was a cat, and Frehley a spaceman with silver boots and a leather, spacesuit. To add to the fantasy aspect, they decided none of the Kiss members would be photographed in public without their makeup.