Makeup and costumes were one of the first things they worked on, with Simmons, Stanley, and Criss showcasing for Epic in 1973 in whiteface and rather generic rock-’n’-roll outfits (if one can call the rented sailor suit Simmons is wearing “rock-’n’-roll”). By the time Ace Frehley joined, the four rejected the whiteface and went for a look that was more derived from the New York Dolls (whose look came from other bands like the Rolling Stones for their “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?” picture sleeve single).
This was the look—a bit of eye shadow and feminine clothing, although Criss looks like he stepped straight out of a Hello People gig—that was seen in the early photo of the four many fans finally saw of the band when it popped up in the 1980s, as well as one that proves Simmons’s assertion that they couldn’t carry off the look the way the Dolls did. Realizing that they had to go in another direction, they took their cue from bands like the Hello People and attempts by artists like the Stones, Roy Wood, and Todd Rundgren to use makeup to make their appearances unique instead of just covering up the face. There were some stumbles along the way, with Stanley being the most indecisive of the four on what worked best for him, but by the time the first album was released, the characters’ makeup was set in stone. Only minor adjustments would occur after that.
Gene Simmons seemed to get the general idea of his makeup the quickest, moving from black around his eyes to give a skull-like texture to his face, on to the widow’s peak and the flaming black mask around his eyes that gave the appearance of batwings. From there, the makeup would firm up, with black lines up and down the nose to define the “wings” a bit more. Although he would vary the thickness lines every so often in the years since, by 1974 he was set on the makeup for his persona.
KISS FAQ showcases the good, bad, and the weird that has made KISS the legendary ultimate rock-and-roll party band, still going strong after 40 years. Accompanying this entertaining work of solid rock scholarship are dozens of rare images – from posters to live shots and beyond. Also included is a foreword by Bill Starkey, the creator of the original KISS Army.