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Gene Simmons

Gene SimmonsAKA Chaim Witz

Born: 25-Aug-1949
Birthplace: Haifa, Israel

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Bassist, Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Blood-spouting KISS bassist

Born in Israel under the name Chaim Witz, Gene Simmons relocated to Brooklyn at the age of 9 with his mother, a Hungarian immigrant and the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. Once in the States his name was changed to the more American-sounding Gene Klein, and he struggled to advance his understanding of English through watching television and reading comics. During his school years, he developed an interest in horror and science fiction, for a while even publishing his own comics fanzine; but the Beatles phenomenon inspired a stronger urge to become a musician, and in 1967 he secured a second hand guitar from his mother to realize his ambitions. Participation in a series of different bands followed, amongst which were The Missing Links and The Long Island Sounds. After high school Simmons enrolled in college and began working towards a degree in education, performing at night as a member of Bullfrog Bheer and later in the folk duo Coffee. A period was spent as a teacher in Spanish Harlem and then as a personal assistant for the editor of Vogue, but by this time he had met Paul Stanley and, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, the two founded Kiss in 1973. It was at this point that he adopted the name Gene Simmons.

Kiss landed a contract with the fledgling Casablanca label that same year and released their self-titled debut in 1974. Two more albums quickly followed, each receiving an increasingly favorable response. A rigorous touring schedule gradually established a nation-wide following, and by the release of the live set Alive! at the end of 1975 Kiss had become one of the biggest acts in the country. Simmons' band persona (and the band's presentation in general) was a clear continuation of his interest in horror and comic books: nicknamed "the demon", he took the stage clad in stylized armor and spiked platform boots, with his face elaborately painted in white and black. Bursts of flame and generous amounts of fake blood regularly featured in his performance.

In addition to his duties with Kiss, Simmons began to branch out into other aspects of the entertainment business in the late 70s and early 80s. He attempted unsuccessfully to promote an early incarnation of the band Van Halen, and later established his own short-lived label, $immons Records. Ventures into management (for singer and former girlfriend Liza Minnelli) and producing (for Wendy O. Williams) were also undertaken. Inevitably, an effort was made to establish himself as an actor; the made-for-TV band movie Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978) effectively opened the door to this new field, and roles for both feature films (Runaway, 1984; Never Too Young To Die, 1986) and television (Miami Vice) occasionally surfaced over the following decade.

With regular changes to the drummer and lead guitarist positions, Kiss remained active for most of the 80s and 90s, armed with a simple formula to restore attention to themselves whenever public attention began to drift: when their first decline took place in the early 80s they made a publicity stunt out of removing their make-up, resulting in a boost of sales for the album Lick it Up (1983). When another slump arrived in the mid-90s, they made a publicity stunt out of putting their make-up back on, resulting in another boost for the album and accompanying tour Psycho Circus (1998). A long 'farewell' tour was initiated in 2000, but it remains to be seen whether the band will actually put their cash cow out to pasture for good.

Simmons kept himself very busy outside of Kiss in the 00s: launching the magazine Tongue, publishing his autobiography, creating the Dragonfly clothing line, and re-establishing his record label. First and foremost, however, he has devoted himself to being as much of an asshole in public as is humanly possible, using both radio and television talk shows as his primary venue. This fact was celebrated with the release of his second solo album Asshole in 2004.

Father: Yechiel Witz ("Feri", carpenter)
Mother: Florence ("Flora")
Girlfriend: Cher (musician/actress)
Slept with: Liza Minnelli (musician)
Slept with: Diana Ross (musician)
Girlfriend: Liv Ullmann (actress)
Slept with: Robin Quivers (radio host)
Slept with: Jessica Hahn (model, victim of televangely)
Girlfriend: Georgeann Walsh Ward (1971-74)
Wife: Shannon Tweed (model/actress, together since mid-1980s, m. 1-Oct-2011, two children)
Son: Nick Simmons (b. 22-Jan-1989)
Daughter: Sophine (b. 1992)

    High School: Newtown High School, Queens, NY
    University: BA Education, Sullivan Community College, Platskill, NY
    University: Richmond College, Staten Island, NY

    Kiss Bassist/Vocalist (1972-)
    Endorsement of Coca-Cola (2005)
    Endorsement of Dr Pepper Snapple Group (2009)
    Endorsement of Nike
    Sex Tape Scandal 2008 (purportedly with "Elsa" or "Traci Anna Koval")
    Polygraphed (2008)
    Camp: Surprise Lake
    Hungarian Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Polio

    Gene Simmons: Family Jewels Himself (2006-)
    The Apprentice Contestant (2008)

    Why Him? (17-Dec-2016)
    We Are X (23-Jan-2016) · Himself
    Sample This (21-Oct-2012) · Narrator
    Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (24-Apr-2010) · Himself
    Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel (12-Sep-2009) · Himself
    Extract (4-Sep-2009)
    Be Cool (4-Mar-2005) · Himself
    Wish You Were Dead (21-May-2002)
    The New Guy (7-May-2002) · Reverend
    Detroit Rock City (9-Aug-1999)
    Red Surf (1990)
    The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (10-Sep-1988) · Himself
    Wanted: Dead or Alive (14-Jan-1987) · Malak Al Rahim
    Trick or Treat (24-Oct-1986)
    Never Too Young to Die (17-Jul-1986)
    Runaway (14-Dec-1984) · Luther
    KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (28-Oct-1978)

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