I promised last night to tell you about Gene Simmons.
We were at the Legends golf tournament, hosted by Tommy Thayer, a member of the band, KISS. I don’t know much about the band except they sing that song, “I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night, and Party Ev-er-ry Day,” and they do Dr. Pepper commercials. And that Tommy Thayer is one heck of a nice guy who has helped raise money for Pacific University for the last 4 years, according to the stuff I just Googled. He gets a bunch of celebrity “legends” together (hence the name) and they come to the dinner/auction on Sunday night and then play golf with athletic supporters. They also play with other golfers. Pretty bad, huh? Well, I am getting NO sleep around here and it’s the freaking best I can do.
We went last year to the dinner for the first time and it was scads of fun. All of these musicians got up on stage after dinner and sang great songs. We decided to go back this year.
Yes, I’m getting to Gene Simmons. He’s the lead singer of KISS, the one with the tongue that could lick his own forehead it’s so long. Personally I think it’s a tongue extension. I bet there are lots of Gene Simmons tongue jokes on the internet. I’ll go hunt for one.
Well, the only one I came up with quickly is from some reporter who quipped, “Gene Simmons gave me a tongue lashing.” Lame, but better than nothing.
Anyway, he also has a TV reality show called Gene Simmons Family Jewels. I watched parts of it a couple of times and he seems like a nice, regular guy. I really like his girlfriend/mother-of-his-grown-children, Shannon Tweed, who he’s been with for 25 years.
Here was my little taste of celebrity. Gene Simmons walks into the big outdoor room under a circus tent with Shannon and an entourage, with cameramen in front, on the sides, and behind him and a guy holding a microphone boom thingy. It was like being on the red carpet! One of the ladies I was sitting with said, “That must be awful having all those people following you around all the time,” and I said, “I think all those people represent money in Gene Simmons’ pocket. When nobody’s around, he’ll be a poor guy.”
He walked in slowly because the other celebrities came up to greet him. I didn’t know who they were, but I live a sheltered life. Many were star athletes with honors and awards a mile long, but they weren’t Joe Montana so I didn’t recognize their names. There were also music legends, including the drummer from the band, Chicago. Boy was he good!
Gene had on sunglasses even in the darkish tent, and a black shirt, black pants and silver/gray cowboy boots. He would have been your nice, average Mafia guy if it hadn’t been for the cameras. Shannon looked just like she does on TV.
I think the reason KISS has had such a long run of fame and fortune is Gene Simmons’ marketing skills. He was filming the auction as part of a Family Jewel’s episode, and he offered bidders a chance to be seen on the show, which drove prices up. When people were bidding to have him on their golf team the next day, and the bid only got up to $6,500, he bid on himself for $10,000. “This is a fundraiser,” he said, “and I’m here to raise money.” The auctioneer said, “Gene, am I understanding this? You’re bidding $10,000 to play with yourself?” That got some laughs.
Someone bid $10,500, and Gene bid $11,000. He kept counter-bidding until he’d driven his own price up to $15,000. I thought about the poor guy who would be writing a check for that in order to play one round of golf and get a cameo on a reality show, but hey, I’m not criticizing – if I’d had a wheelbarrow full of spare money, I’d probably have bid as well.
Gene offered a home cooked meal and evening at his house to 4 couples, each bidding $11,000 each. He and another guy named Doc egged the crowd on to bid higher, throwing in airfare and hotel. I’m sure there were wealthy people there who could afford it, but not at our table.
They ended up raising about $400,000, and I think a good chunk of that came from people willing to bid sky-high to hang out with Gene Simmons.
I didn’t get to meet him, I was busy trying to entertain Ray Kennedy, the celebrity who was assigned to our table and ended up sitting beside me. He was a handful. He had played with the Beach Boys and a ton of other bands – a very talented guy – but he wasn’t with us much because he was too hyper to sit still, and he knew everyone in the room and kept making the rounds.
I don’t know why I needed to take up a whole blog with this – I guess it’s because I don’t get around “stars” and it was a fun experience. All the musicians jammed, and we danced. A couple of women got up on the stage and danced in the background. If they don’t get edited out, you’ll see them on the show. I’ll let you know when it airs. We were a couple of tables away so maybe we’ll be on TV, too. Then I’ll be a celebrity, too. I’ll send you an autograph.