This past summer, I implemented a self-imposed summer reading assignment. The assignment was to re-read each autobiography written by the members of KISS, including the self-help/second autobiography by Gene Simmons, Sex, Money, Kiss. That reading assignment has spilled over into the fall and may continue into the winter at the pace I’ve been reading lately. Here’s my review of Sex, Money, Kiss (LINK) the first book I re-read for the assignment.
The second book I completed was Peter Criss’ Makeup To Breakup. This has always been my least favorite of the biographies. Partially because Peter may be my least favorite member of the band, and partially because Criss does an awful lot of whining and finger pointing, never truly accepting his part of the blame for his demise with the band.
Makeup To Breakup contains a lot of revisionist history. There are several stories told where Peter plays the hero, but I have my doubts they actually happened the way he explains. There is also a lot of complaining and “feel sorry for me, it wasn’t really my fault” bullshit tossed throughout the entire book. However, there is also a brutal honesty in some of the memories that Criss decided to include. And it is the brutal honesty that makes his memoir intriguing. He holds nothing back. Whether it’s his drugged out lifestyle, his gun touting, near shootout with the local cops, or his over the top antics with his partner in crime, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss shares all the happenings of his wild and crazy life.
And even though he decides to tell all in his memoirs, there are some glaringly different sides of classic KISS tales told throughout this book as well. The ad that was placed in Rolling Stone magazine, how “Beth” was ultimately recorded, the demise of the Cat Man, his return for one more try before the Unmasked tour, and his ultimate firing, are all told through the eyes of Peter Criss. Which are very different eyes than the eyes of Ace, Gene, and Paul that recounted these stories in their respective biographies. That’s the thing about the truth – it lies between the many sides of the story being told.
Criss’ take on why his solo albums did not sell well is definitely sordid. He claims the record company did not want him to be successful; when they still had KISS on their roster, so they buried his albums, or refused to release them in the USA at all. That sounds odd to me, and more like an excuse as to why the records did so poorly. Rather than fess up to the truth, that the albums just weren’t that good and were recorded by someone who was out of his mind on cocaine and Quaaludes, Peter simply blamed the record company for lack of execution.
The problem with Peter Criss is Peter Criss. It’s clear from his memoirs that he felt the world owed him everything. Paranoia and delusions didn’t help him either. He felt that the acoustic shows in 1995 were a “test” and that the reunion tour was just a way that Gene and Paul could make money. He failed to take any blame for things that went wrong in his life. It was always someone else’s fault, never his own, and he always had a reason and a story as to why.
After reading Makeup To Breakup I can understand why Paul and Gene wanted Peter out of the band and didn’t want to work with him anymore. I was getting angry as I read! I wanted to smack Peter around, tell him to quit acting like a baby and to wake up!
At certain times the book isn’t even an autobiography, it’s a pages long diatribe on why Gene, Paul, and Ace are such evil and vile people. Peter comes off as the whiny child that never grew up and is still upset years later that he didn’t get his way. His jealousy over the other members of the band shines bright throughout the tale of his life. He claims anger and disgust with each member of the band in their own way, but when the astute read between the lines it is clear that Peter is upset he is nothing sans KISS.
Peter Criss is delusion and looks at the past with a revisionist sight. His stories are far-fetched and he struggles to find ways that he is better than everyone in the group. His claims of how every tour was unsuccessful until they re-signed him are just exhausting. And his constant bad mouthing of the band mates that gave him a second, third, and fourth chance are sickening. He is just a whiny child in a 60-something year old’s body. And that is as sad as it is frustrating.