kiss merchandise dealer

q: please write a short bio on yourself.

a: that's hard. i'll be 33 this august. i first got into kiss in 1976 when i saw them on the paul lynde halloween special and i've been a fan since. in 1982, i formed a kiss fanzine called "the kiss revolution" to help inform other fans of what kiss was doing. in 1983 i met a guy named keith leroux and we formed a kiss fan club we called "the kiss force." it was the most successful kiss fan club in the 80's. we put out fan club packages with 8x10 pictures, folders, stickers, bios, etc... not to forget the newsletters where we had exclusive interviews with eric carr, ace frehley, peter criss, vinnie vincent, mark st. john and bruce kulick. it was a lot of fun. by early 1986, vinnie vincent was so impressed with the job i was doing, he asked me to do his official fan club for his new band (vinnie vincent invasion). from there i did fan clubs and marketing for a lot of bands during the late `80s, early `90s -- like britny fox, tuff, vixen, la guns, every mother's nightmare, joan jett, y&t, dio, and the list goes on.

q: kiss' reunion brought back another merchandise marketing blitz. what do you consider the best - and worst - of the new merchandise.

a: there's a lot of good things with the new merchandise - i really like the gene halloween costume, the 3d destroyer sculpture, and the autographed figurine from gartlan. as far as worst, i'd have to say the stock cars. i loved the die cast funny cars, but the stock cars are the same design, same packaging, same photo cards, everything is the same, except for the shape of the cars. to me, they should have went back and redesigned the artwork on the car, then put it on the stock cars, but to take the same design and apply it to a car with a different shape is taking advantage of fans. i'm sure most people won't probably even notice the difference between the shape of the funny car and stock car.

q: even though you are a kiss merchandise dealer, do you feel kiss are overdoing the merchandising?

a: yes! i would hate to see the merchandise overshadow the music as it did in the late 70s. kiss was the biggest band in the world in `77-'78, but by `79, there was so much merchandise, that it turned the band into a merchandising machine and a joke to a lot of people. it's like they always say, "it's not easy being a kiss fan." and it's not. everybody knows who kiss is and when you mention it to some people, the first thing they say is, `i used to have a kiss lunchbox.' or something in that vein. to me, kiss is about the big rock show - the fire, explosions, smoke, theatrics, but what it all comes down to is the music. without the music, none of that would be possible. i will say, one of the newest items i'm offering is the "psycho circus" japanese limited edition cd and i have been completely overwhelmed by the response. it's good to see people are just as, if not more so, interested in the music. going to the shows are great, collecting the merchandise is great, but you don't get all the explosions, fire and theatrics when you put on the cd. it's just the music. i'll be the first to admit, the first time i saw kiss was on the paul lynde halloween special in 1976 and it was the look and theatrics that hooked me, but if they didn't have the music to back it up, i would have lasted this long with the band. the music is first and foremost with me. that's why i offer the remastered cds and not just the merchandise. believe me, for what i pay for the cd's, i don't make any money on them, but i feel it's important to offer them.

q: what kiss merchandise would you like to see released, that is not available now?

a: that's a hard one because there's so much stuff out there. probably the thing i'm looking forward to the most is the box set that gene has been talking about for the last 2 - 2½ years.

q: being a kiss collector yourself, what is your most prized kiss collectible?

a: i would have to say the photos i have of me with the band, some letters from eric carr, some of ace's original artwork and the kiss pinball machine. the pinball machine holds special meaning to me because i first bought it in 1983. then money got a little tight around `89-'90 and i sold it to a very close friend of mine. last year i bought a house and my friend who bought the pinball machine from me gave the machine back as a house warming gift. the items that i would say are my most prized are the ones that really have special meaning, maybe not so rare, but special to me.

q: what's the one kiss collectible you don't have, but want the most?

a: an 8x10 photo of the band from 1979 backstage at madison square garden with george sewitt and autographed by the band and sewitt. this is something i would want for personal reasons.

q: having ran the vinnie vincent invasion's official fan club, do you have any interesting stories about vinnie?

a: tons of them!!! vinnie was extremely nice, and perhaps the most talented person i've ever worked with. and i've worked with quite a few artists in the last 12 years. the thing with vinnie was, when the times were tough, he was great, but once success was around the corner and things were starting to head in the right direction, he changed and everything went to pieces, which is what happened to the invasion band and they split up. i used to go out to california a lot and see the band. when i did, vinnie would come and pick me up, take me out around l.a., rent a few movies and just sit in his music room and watch videos all night. it's the same stuff you'd do with friends. i was there when they rehearsed, recorded demos, and did the actual recording of "all systems go." it was a magical time for the band, but also very tense and you could sense the end was near. the album release party for that record was very cool. it was held in a warehouse in l.a. after the band rode down sunset blvd on an army tank full of women. the party was a `who's who of who' affair. what made it very exciting was to see peter criss there. i had interviewed him, spoke to him on the telephone on several occasions and this was my first face to face meeting with him and his wife debra. peter hugged me and debra hugged and kissed me. i could go on with more, but maybe that's something for the band to tell.

q: you were involved with ace frehley's "rock soldiers" fan club, and helped peter criss with his "cat club". tell us about those experiences.

a: doing fan clubs are tough. you have a lot of people to please and you learn fast, you're not going to make everyone happy, no matter how hard you try. i did ace's rock soldiers for a brief period while he was on the road with kiss to help him out. i put out issue #10 of the newsletter and once the tour ended, he decided he wanted to be more actively involved in the fan club, so i turned it all back over to ace. i wished him well with it, but i haven't heard anything about it since. i didn't help the guys out for financial gain, i did it as a favor to try and help them out during a tough time for them. ace and peter had just rejoined kiss and both of the fan clubs were a mess, and basically inactive. what i was hoping to accomplish with it was to fulfill their obligations to the fans who were members and then end the fan clubs until their stay with kiss was over. i see no need for individual fan clubs while they are members of kiss. it would be like having a paul stanley fan club - paul stanley is kiss, so what's the difference between a paul stanley one and a kiss one? the same holds true for any of the band members.

q: you are one of the most respected and recognized dealers of kiss merchandise. what do you attribute this to?

a: i try to give the fans what i expect from companies that i order things from. i'm also a fan, so i look at things in that perspective as well as a business person. i do everything involved with the company so i know what everybody is getting. i know that i've very fortunate that i have people who help me who feel the same way. steve higgs is someone who helps me and i know he shares my vision of giving people what you would expect. he buys a lot of stuff from a lot of different companies, so he too knows what it feels like to have good service.

q: please give us info on your website,

a: originally i had my site on the kiss otaku with mike brandvold maintaining the site for me making changes and updates. then i contacted an old friend of mine who had a shopping cart program that he offered to adapt to my kiss site. now, i must say, mike did an incredible job with the site, but i had the opportunity to get my own site, with my own domain name and on a secured server. so i spoke to mike about it and he was great and offered to help in anyway possible. the website has two different names, but both point to the same location, one is and the other is as i said, it is a secured server, so all credit card transactions are safe. when new items come out we try to put them on the front page for a little while, then we move them into different categories. right now there are 30 or more different categories on the site. if you click on say `mouse pads' it will take you to the page that pictures the 2 styles currently available. then you can click on the one you like and it gives you a bigger picture, description and the opportunity to order it. it's not a fancy site, but it seems to work well and it's very fast. all merchandise is pictured in color and we try to update it as much as possible. it's a growing process. two years ago i wanted to produce an all color kiss catalog and have my own domain that could accept credit card purchases. now i have both. i've been very fortunate and lucky. i hope to see things grow more in the future. i'm not looking to get rich on selling kiss stuff or retire. i put most of it back into the business. i still work a full time job at a digital service provider as a computer tech/digital artist, so i'm not looking to live off of kiss. before we go i must thank lynn's kiss dominion for the opportunity to let people know a little more about me and what i do with the kiss merchandise. and i also want to thank mike brandvold of kiss otaku and chris, john & beth white from kiss asylum for linking my site to theirs and for all the wonderful things they have done for me. i attribute a lot of the success i've had in the last 2 years to those people.

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