Simmons Clan kick Gene in the Family Jewels

By Jacob Zinn

KISS bassist turned international television star Gene Simmons happily signs autographs for fans at the Red Robinson Theatre. Photo by Jacob Zinn.

Gene Simmons is used to being the center of attention, but on Friday night, the Tweed-Simmons family stole the God of Thunder’s thunder.

The River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond was jam-packed on July 22 for the Gene Simmons & Family Live Q&A session, which was being filmed for his reality TV show, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels. A largely middle-aged crowd clutched cameras awaiting the arrival of Gene, his partner Shannon Tweed, and their son and daughter, Nick and Sophie Simmons.

Looking around, it became clear that most of the crowd knew Gene from Family Jewels, not from KISS. There were KISS Army members with vinyl records and merchandise, but there were only two facepainted diehards dressed in the full Demon getup.

The stage was set with leather couches and a projected backdrop of the Vancouver skyline. Classic rock set the mood before the show, but the only KISS song played the entire night was 1979’s “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” from the dreaded KISSco era. Anything harder like “Love Gun” or “Strutter” and the part-time fans might have gotten upset.

The show started 15 minutes late, and since his family wasn’t there yet, Gene spent a good 45 minutes kissing his own ass. He showed a near-10 minute video that highlighted KISS’s accomplishments and products, including KISS-themed U.S. postage stamps, Pez candy, board games and cross-promotions with M&Ms and Dr. Pepper.

But, amid scandalous allegations of infidelity, he did admitted, “I’ve been a shitty companion to Shannon,” with his head held low in shame, garnering sympathy from the crowd.

When the rest of his family arrived, the crowd applauded and cheered the most for Shannon (partly because she’s Canadian and partly because women arguably made up more than half of the audience).

“The best deal Gene ever did is right here,” said Shannon with an unrelenting you-go-girl attitude.

The family answered questions that were written down and submitted by the audience. While most of the questions related to the show and their personal lives, a few KISS questions popped up. Nick was asked if he would ever follow in his dad’s platform-booted footsteps and join KISS.

To paraphrase, he thought we were crazy.

“Ace [Frehley] and Peter [Criss] are going to kill themselves,” said Nick of the band’s original lead guitarist and drummer, respectively. However, he did hint that if he gets a band together, he’d play a few shows up here.

Nick was by far the most entertaining of the group—he was nothing but punchlines, and when Gene was in the middle of an unfunny, long-winded, business-related explanation, Nick would snore his disapproval into the microphone.

Sophie and Shannon got laughs too by making fun of Gene; they ridiculed his mannerisms, his red Onesie pyjamas and his lack of a sixth sense.

Overall, it was 10 minutes of advertising, 45 minutes of Gene stroking his ego and 90 minutes of Shannon and the kids cutting him down. Most of the questions were light-hearted, but those in attendance all wanted to know more about the future of Gene and Shannon’s 28-year unwed relationship.

The current season of their show has focused on the possibility of the most famous rockstar-Playmate couple separating if Gene doesn’t straighten out his priorities. But one fan was itching for spoilers and had to ask if they were engaged.

“You’ll have to watch on Tuesday,” said Sophie.

The season finale of Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels airs Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. PST on A&E.

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