Gene Simmons Talks About A Few Of His Favorite Things


March 1, 2008

(Fortune Magazine) — Yes, Kiss is still around – and Gene Simmons will tell you it’s bigger than ever. That’s because Simmons, who co-owns the trademark with bandmate Paul Stanley, estimates that he has licensed more than 3,000 Kiss products that run the gamut from rock & roll (coffins, condoms) to suburban-dad tame (Hasbro Toothtunes toothbrushes, coffeehouses).

He’s also turned his penchant for promotion, which fueled the band’s fire-breathing success in the 1970s, into a second act: marketing. Clients include the Indy Racing League, for which Simmons crafted the slogan “I am Indy.”

Then there’s the Gene brand: His A&E reality show, “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels,” is currently taping its third season. All those commitments keep Simmons on the road for almost half the year, and that’s when the band isn’t touring. We caught up with the rocker in New York City to talk travel.

DAYS ON THE ROAD: About 180. We may tour next year, and that’ll take ten months. But I go to all the IndyCar races and travel anywhere that includes the TV show.

FAVORITE WAY TO FLY: Overseas airlines. They treat you like a king. Singapore Airlines is just terrific.

FULL SERVICE: At LAX, two blocks away from the airport, there’s this secret thing. I drive up to a place, a guy gets in, I drive to United or American or wherever, and he takes the car. No parking, no torture. When I land, I make the phone call. Car drives up, I get in and drive off. It’s called Airport Valet. It’s my favorite thing.

HIGHS OR LOWS: I like a clean bed and a clean bathroom. The rest of the accouterments I don’t really care about. I’ve stayed at Motel 6, and they do a good job for the price. I used to like the Plaza Hotel in New York, and they seemed to like me because every time I went they gave me a suite and a butler. But I could go to Holiday Inn, and there’d be a party, and you’d have the time of your life. I’m what it’s about.

SWEET SPOT: I still like the Carnegie Deli in New York, showing up at 2 A.M. and doing sinful things like having a hot pastrami sandwich, lean, extra mustard, pickle. Of course, you have nightmares from hell, but that’s the price.

BEST TOOL: I don’t carry my computer, ever. Every hotel has them. And I refuse to get a CrackBerry. I talk on the phone. People want access to me, and it makes the deals go down faster. I have a two- or three-year-old Razr. Terrific reception.

CELEBRITY PERKS: Chicks. And access. Celebrity gets the door open. You can’t create business, but celebrity gives you access to people because they’re curious about you.

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