"I tend to hype," Gene Simmons told reporters recently, drawing no disagreement. Hype helped build his Kiss rock band into a powerhouse; now it has turned a losing football team (the Los Angeles Kiss) into one of the attendance leaders of the Arena Football League. A reality show about the team's first year starts Aug. 12; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Right now, Paul Stanley is a football boss, with a team (the
Los Angeles Kiss) named after his rock group.
Decades ago, however, he was just another teen, playing
“I was always a fairly sturdy, strong kid,” he recalled.
“And I was playing football and somebody tackled me. And when I finally ceased
to be airborne and landed on my stomach and knocked the air out of me, I
decided that a guitar was much safer.”
Good choice. He and Gene Simmons – backed by cascades of showmanship,
make-up and music – propelled Kiss to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That fame
helped them start this Arena Football League expansion team and now “4th
and Loud,” a reality show that profiles the team’s first year.
The team itself is legitimate (if not yet a winner), in a
legitimate league. “You want to make sure that it’s real football for real
football fans,” Simmons said.
But surrounding that is the Kiss touch. “The band has always
been about bang for buck,” Stanley said. “The band has always been about giving
So the goal, he said, was to add spectacle around the games.
“We wanted BMX bike-riders. We want pyro. We want to envelop you and pummel
you.” That ranges from the uniforms (suggesting Marvel superheroes, he said) to
the women on the sidelines.
“I think a lot of the cheerleaders … have become rather
sexless,” Stanley said. “We wanted … to have not the girl next door; we wanted
to have the girl we wish was next door.”
Still, Stanley admits, the Kiss guys had “a certain naivety.
We came in believing we would win the championship.” They won 3, lost 15 and
finished 12 games out of first place.
The showmanship, however, worked. This is a league that once
teetered near bankruptcy; it cancelled its season in 2009, the year the
previous Los Angeles franchise folded. With an expansion team that followed a
five-year void, Kiss averaged 10,945 fans per game, second only to Tampa Bay. “We
are trying to … open the league’s eyes to what’s possible,” Stanley said.
At least, what’s possible with help from rock stars. Season-ticket
holders ($99 for eight games) got a free Kiss concert; now there’s the reality
show. “We are the Tiger Woods of (arena football),” Simmons said. “Before
Tiger, you didn’t care about golf; now everybody is going to pay attention to
this new thing.”
Well … maybe not everybody. “I tend to hype,” Simmons said.
“So believe half of what I say.”
A few minutes earlier, he also admitted that “I love the
sound of my own voice.” That may qualify him perfectly for reality TV.
“4th and Loud,” debuts 9 p.m. Aug. 12
on AMC, rerunning at 10 p.m. and 1:30 and 4:45 a.m.
Also, reruns late Aug. 13-15 – technically, 4
a.m. Aug. 14, 12:15 a.m. Aug. 15, 1:30 a.m. Aug. 16.