Paul Stanley, an original member of the iconic metal band KISS, will host an exclusive exhibition of his paintings, sculptures and limited-edition prints 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Wentworth Gallery inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
Best known as the singer and principal songwriter for KISS since its 1973 founding, Stanley has been a painter and artist for more than 20 years, and started marketing much of his artwork in 2006. As a gesture of thanks to fans and art collectors who purchase pieces of his work, Stanley will meet with collectors Saturday at Hard Rock, which has displayed many of his original pieces since its June opening. Top collectors will have the opportunity to dine with Stanley after the show.
Press of Atlantic City Director of Entertainment Publications Scott Cronick interviewed Stanley on WOND’s “Off The Press with Scott Cronick” radio show Friday, Oct. 5.
Cronick introduced Stanley while the KISS song “Tears Are Falling” played in the background.
Scott Cronick: Here he is, KISS frontman Paul Stanley, welcome to the show.
Paul Stanley: I got to hear “Tears Are Falling” — that was cool. And at the Hard Rock you’ve got all the KISS costumes in the entryway, so I’m blessing the entrance and I can’t wait be down for the Wentworth show. I’ve been doing these gallery shows for a while, and I’ve reached a point in terms of sales and in terms of popularity of my art that I’ve just never expected. But I’m humbled and grateful and having a ball.
SC: Paul Stanley, I want to tell you that I’ve met you before. You were so kind to my son one time here in Atlantic City when you played the House of Blues and, first of all, I want to tell you that I got my brand-new Paul Stanley PUMAs today in the mail. I didn’t wear them yet, but I have them.
PS: You’re lucky, because they basically sold out around the world at this point. I know they’re doing a second run of them at the end of the month, because they’re gone.
I did a really cool PUMA Suede, which was a zebra one, and I’m doing another one called the PUMA Breaker, which I did in different furs (faux animal prints such as leopards and tigers). And the cool thing is, when people I know wear them, others come over and ask “What are those?” I was watching (The Tonight Show with) Jimmy Fallon and there’s Jack Black wearing them, so it’s been pretty awesome.
SC: Yeah, awesome indeed and I can’t wait to pop those on my feet, and maybe I’ll have them on when I see you. But let’s talk about your art. You started doing this about 20 years ago — some things changed in your life that you wanted to start expressing yourself through that medium. I was just in the Wentworth Gallery and a lot of your stuff is already up, whether it’s painting on guitars, paintings of your fellow KISS members, maybe it’s Jimi Hendrix or maybe some floral arrangement that inspired you. Do you want to tell us where the art began, and how it’s evolved to now?
PS: Sure. When I first started I had no experience painting, but I needed — and I didn’t know I needed — but I definitely needed an emotional outlet. When you’re going through trials and tribulations and chaotic parts of your life, you need to express yourself, and a good friend of mine said “You need to paint.” I was like, what? But something about it resonated with me, so I went to an arts supply store and bought some paint, brushes, an easel and went home.
Having no idea what I was going to do, I just started painting. It was more of an emotional release for me — just a way to kind of purge — and it was awesome. It quickly led to more painting. I was really enjoying it, and I never, ever had any aspirations or thoughts of showing my work. But a few pieces were hanging in my house and people would come over and ask “Who did that? Who did this one?”
At that point, somebody I know who had a gallery said “We’d like to do a show.” I was kind of ambivalent and didn’t quite know how to respond, but I wound up doing a small show and I was amazed that people took pieces home. So that was really the start, and it’s grown into something far, far, far bigger than I could have ever imagined.
I think at last count sales were over $10 million. Yes, there were KISS fans (who bought many) and that’s terrific, but I want everybody to know that you don’t have to have any background or education in art to have an opinion. You don’t need to explain what you like or what you don’t like. I tell people, “Look, good food you know is good because you swallow it. Bad food you spit out.” What someone else likes doesn’t matter. There are people who have never been to a gallery that will show up, which I think is awesome, and there will be famous collectors who collect work of artists who I’m very pleased to be on the same walls with in people’s home. So, it’s been an amazing experience. I spend quite a lot of time painting when I’m home. It’s a daily exploration.
SC: I do want to talk about the (KISS) Farewell Tour a little bit, but I would like to talk about your art a little more. Were you ever concerned that, as the art became more popular, which is kind of going to happen with someone of your popularity, that the business of it was going to infringe on the creative outlet, and that it was going to become more of a business than something of enjoyment?
PS: That’s a really great question. First of all, there’s no doubt that my success and my fame gets the door open. But the novelty wouldn’t last 15, 18, 20 years. Did I have an advantage starting? Absolutely. But what has happened over time goes far beyond what it started as, because there are collectors who don’t like KISS, don’t know KISS and couldn’t care about KISS. So it really runs the gamut.
Something that started initially as something very personal and private became something very big, so I was always very aware that I wouldn’t let this become a factory, where I’m just churning out pieces of art. I don’t second-guess the public, I paint for myself, and eventually when I do something I like, invariably it finds an audience. If I do something that appeals to me, it appeals to other people, so my art has really transcended or gone far beyond a KISS base. It’s been great, and I’m very aware that I don’t it want it to become a chore.
SC: So, Paul, we’re excited but feeling a bit bittersweet that there’s going to be a farewell tour. We’re sorry to see you go, but at the same time a lot of us want to see you guys enjoy painting or whatever it is as you go into the musical sunset so to speak. So tell us a little bit about the tour. You’re already rehearsing, and how is this going to be a little different from your past tours?
PS: It will be more than a little different, it will be a completely new show — we took everything we’d done before and basically threw it out and started from scratch. This is a victory lap for us. It’s a chance for us to go around the world celebrating what we’ve done with the fans, and not only say thank you, but say thank you in the most combustible and explosive way.
This is going to be an amazing state-of-the-art show, and for us it’s a way for people who have never seen us to come see what KISS is all about. Every band and every performer that’s out there in one shape or form is doing a KISS show, because it’s really the whole format basis of what you’re seeing a lot of now, and it started with us. But you may be seeing KISS-like shows but you’re not seeing KISS, and there’s nothing like us.
Really, when you think about it, if we were on stage wearing jeans and playing rock-and-roll music wearing PUMAs or whatever, yeah, we could do this into our 80s. But we’re carrying around 30 or 40 pounds of gear, jumping around like crazy, and it does come to a point where the reality and the practicality of touring, and doing it night after night — it’s not something that we can keep either the standard or the quality.
We want to be able to do this one more time at the top of our game, and also to say thank you to everybody. That’s really what this is about at this point. The people who have seen us in the past will be blown away by the show and the music, and the people who have never seen us before will finally be able to say “I saw them.”
SC: You know, set lists always put you between a rock and a hard place. You want to please the loyal fans like me who want to hear that rare B-side cover that you haven’t played in 30 years, but at the same time you want to hear “Strutter” one more time. So how do you go about devising a set list?
PS: Especially in a case like this, we have to be well aware that, A) this is the last time around, and B) the majority of people may have seen us couple of times or may have never seen us. To play something that’s obscure — there’s a reason that the song’s obscure. For whatever reason, those songs didn’t connect with people or they’re just not as good, you can put it any way you want.
I will tell you that if you put on a live concert video of the Stones, or McCartney or anybody who’s been around, and you turn off the sound, I will show you every time that they’re playing a newer song. And why? Because the audience sits down. When the Stones go out and they play a new song, the fans go “Well that’s great, now play ‘Brown Sugar.’ That was really fun, now can you play ‘Honky Tonk Woman?’” We have such a catalog of great songs. Will there be surprises? I think the surprise will be how many songs we play.
SC: Well, Paul, I need to ask you one more question about the tour and it might be a question you guys are not ready to answer. I know you want to wrap this up and do it right, but there are a lot of rumors going around that Ace Frehley has been playing with Gene (Simmons) overseas and at Gene’s house parties. (Frehley) has no immediate tour dates set, and has a new album coming out in a couple of weeks. So, is there a chance that we’ll see past members like Ace pop on stage, whether it’s every night or here or there?
PS: I’m not ruling anything out, but the idea that anybody is going to make regular appearances — that’s not really what this is all about. This is about celebrating the legacy of KISS. And when we play, for example, to 15,000 or 30,000 people, people are coming to see KISS and what they’ve heard is a great show and everything that the band has always stood for. So it’s not a celebration of any lineup or any individual.
Anything’s possible, but that’s not the crux or the core of what we’re doing. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, I can only tell you we’re in the midst of rehearsals and putting together the greatest, most bombastic show we’ve ever done. Beyond that, everything else is icing.
SC: Paul, how important was it for you to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? To me, KISS was the poster band for bands who deserved to be in and weren’t. But now you’re in (since 2014) and now I don’t really have a poster band anymore. So how important was that to you?
PS: Initially I was very pleased for the fans. It was vindication for the fans. It meant a lot to them that the band that they championed, and God only knows for the prior 17 years belonged in the Hall of Fame because we met the criteria and then some. But somehow they found their way around us. So initially I was pleased for the fans, but I have to say that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame walls are coming down because the people demanded it, and it’s slowly becoming the Hall of Fame it was always meant to be.
The Rock and Roll Hall should be about the people in the industry who have mattered and made a difference, so if we’re in the forefront of that change, I’m real pleased. And to see the other bands who deserved to be there and are becoming members, I’m in great company.
SC: I hope that after the Farewell Tour is over, Paul, that we get to see Soul Station here in Atlantic City. I think that’s a perfect fit. For those that don’t know, Paul does a great R&B side project where he’s doing Motown, Stevie Wonder, Smokey (Robinson), Natalie Cole, all that kind of stuff. I can’t imagine a better place than Atlantic City for that show.
PS: You and me both, and that’s certainly in the cards. All members of Soul Station, all 13 of us, want to do it, and we will.
SC: Saturday night, 6 to 9, Wentworth Gallery at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, we’re going to see you, we’re going to see your artwork — I just want to give you the last word and tell us what a night with Paul Stanley and his artwork is like.
PS: Well, because of the massive turnouts it became impractical to just let everybody in, so people who purchase a piece get a chance to meet me, get a photo, get a personal salutation or greeting that I can write out. It’s certainly not an autograph session with memorabilia or bringing your guitar or anything like that. That’s not what this is about. There’s a time and a place for everything. But I’ll get to spend a little time with everybody, and the people who are purchasing the larger original pieces, we’ll go to a dinner together and get to spend more time together.
SC: Thank you, Paul, we’ll see you soon.
PS: Thank you.
Johnny Devenanzio aka 'Johnny Bananas' hosted a special Day-Life at The Pool After Dark
Reality TV star’s best known from MTV’s hit series “The Challenge” Johnny Devenanzio known professionally as “Johnny Bananas” along with Cara Sorbello better known as “Cara Maria” host a special Day-Life event at The Pool Harrah’s Atlantic City, NJ on Saturday Oct 6, 2018
Photo: Tom Briglia/PhotoGraphics