Wednesday, June 3, 2009

creem magazine unmasks kiss... (circa. 1974)*

Back in 1974 it had been reported that KISS were duped into being photographed sans make-up by rock magazine Creem. The band had been promised a generous spread in the magazine on the proviso that they also allow themselves to be photographed without the make-up. Now as everyone knows, back in KISS’ heyday, no one knew what they looked like as photos without the greasepaint in the 70’s were practically non-existant. Granted that today, there are many photos of the band during the 70’s without the make-up. (Look for a future ‘photo special’ segment on this blog for some mind-blowingly candid off-stage shots!)

The following photos are some of the first to appear of the band without the trademark war-paint. Jaan Uhelski, Creem journalist who was once painted with a collage of each member’s make-up and appeared on-stage with KISS in Detroit circa 1975, says… ” I actually inherited the KISS beat at Creem, because no one else really wanted it. For me, nothing is more compelling than an idea whose time had come. KISS’ had. They first came into my life when their promotion man at Casablanca Records called and asked if we could do a Creem profile - the fake ad we used to have in the magazine based on the Dewar’s Scotch ad. So without any hesitation, Larry Harris brought them to our office, a rather casual suite of offices in suburban Detroit above a movie theater. They walked in without their trademark make-up, looking like four rather normal rock types. Very politely they asked if they could take over the women’s bathroom to suit up. The transformation was incredible. When they had their make-up on they became towering giants and they took up more psychic space than they did without the make-up on…”

“…It was pure bedlam, with the staff secretaries fighting to sit on Gene Simmons’ lap and the dentists across the hall from us popping in to see what all the commotion was. And there was a lot of commotion, it was strange what havoc, a few jars of clown make-up, red lipstick and eyeliner could wreak. Charlie Auringer, Creem’s art-director, took the shots with them in full regalia and that was it. Or so we thought. They retired to the bathroom again, removed the make-up and were about to pop back into their waiting cars, but Charlie convinced them to pose for one picture without the make-up. I think it was so early in the game, that they just agreed. Just one of those split-second things. That was the beginning of our relationship with the band…”

After that anything we asked their management for, they always complied. We gave them a lot of coverage when everybody else was treating them like a joke. To me it was a campy, bizarre, death-of-art, Warholian kind of thing. Why would you ruin their superhero kind of appeal by printing those photos of them without the make-up? It never really entered our minds to do that. Okay, maybe it entered our minds but…”

Says Paul Stanley, “We got duped into doing that photo for Creem without make-up. We were doing a photo-shoot at their offices and they said, “We just spoke to your management and they said we could take pictures of the band without your make-up”. And being green we said, “Really?” And they said, “Yes, really”. And we said, “Okay!” It’s a cool picture in terms of marking a certain period where most people never got a chance to see what we looked like…”

edward przydzial~the kiss museum news