Kiss wants to “Rock” The O.C.
Kiss bass guitarist and relentless self-promoter Gene Simmons isn’t going to play in short-yardage situations with hopes that his tongue will stretch through the helmet face guard for a few (no, several) extra inches to pick up a critical first down.
And when it is suggested – jokingly – that newly acquired linebacker Beau Bell could make his entrance to the Arena Football League team’s debut at the Honda Center by descending on a giant mechanical spider – like the band has done – he laughed.
“I’m afraid of heights,” Bell said. “I’m not coming down on that.”
As the laughs of the executives – dressed in suits and sitting in the swanky bar of the Honda Center during a November afternoon interview – died down, LA Kiss President Schuyler Hoversten offered that the spider thing would still be pretty cool.
It would be pretty cool.
Those five words could be the distilled business plan that’s guided Kiss for four decades as it pursued an image of excess and relentless marketing that has left the indelible imprint of black and white face makeup and the all-caps KISS logo on everything from caskets to Hello Kitty.
Simmons and Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley have called their band a “brand.”
Now they’re moving into football in Southern California, preparing for their April home opener, and will unveil a line of team-related merchandise Tuesday night at the Honda Center.
The LA Kiss would seem to be an unlikely avenue for Simmons, who told Bill O’Reilly in 2002: “What is all-American is to be on a football team and put on big guards and go bang into another guy. I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing.”
It would appear he’s changed his mind.
The last AFL team here was the Los Angeles Avengers in 2008. It played at Staples Center and, in its last year, averaged 13,590 fans. It drew more than 869,000 over the course of nine seasons.
The AFL shut down operations in 2009 and the Avengers folded. In 2010, the league came back under new leadership and this year marked the expansion of the AFL to Southern California when Commissioner Jerry Kurz announced the new team with its owners – Simmons, Stanley, Doc McGhee and Brett Bouchy. Team officials said that although the team plays in Anaheim, they expect the fan base to encompass the greater Los Angeles market.
When asked at the news conference how the team was going to promote itself, Stanley said: “We have big mouths.”
The singer-guitarist whose makeup consists of the black star over the right eye said in an interview with the Orange County Register that the AFL experience with LA Kiss will be unique.
He said he wanted a person who drops $99 for a season ticket – which averages out to about $10 a game – to feel like they got football and entertainment.
“I’d rather go for people rappelling from the ceiling,” Stanley said. “I’d like to incorporate elements of Cirque du Soleil.”