Gene Simmons and son Nick
Gene Simmons and son Nick

Why I walked out on the ‘sexist pig’ Gene Simmons

THE only interview I have ever walked out of was with Gene Simmons.

It was in the 1990s and the first time I had the displeasure of speaking to the KISS bassist face-to-face.

I had already endured frontman Paul Stanley on the phone, regurgitating a revolting sexist quip the pair always used when promoting an Australian tour.

"We love coming to Australia because we are welcomed with open arms and open legs."

During every single interview, Stanley or Simmons would smash that wholly repulsive one-liner out. They clearly thought it was clever and amusing.

The first half-dozen times I heard it, I ignored it and moved on to the next question.

KISS was a band who had soundtracked my childhood. I had screamed out and danced to I Was Made For Loving You at every school disco through the 1980s.

I wanted to like them. I didn't want them to be cringe-worthy caricatures of rock'n'roll cliches.

But after suffering their sexist schtick on the phone on numerous occasions, being stuck in a room with Simmons at a Sydney hotel forever killed any affection I had for the band.

I pride myself on researching my interviews and had pages of questions to ask of Simmons.

It didn't matter what I asked him, I got the same answer.

"I love coming to Australia because all the women have big tits and big asses."

His verbal harassment tipped me over the edge of professionalism and I responded that as I possessed neither attribute, would he mind answering a question.

He laughed at me. I asked two more questions, he gave pretty much the same answer and I told him he had wasted enough of my time.

When you’ve grown up loving KISS and their music, it would take a lot for them to fall from grace. (Pic: Ellen Smith)
When you’ve grown up loving KISS and their music, it would take a lot for them to fall from grace. (Pic: Ellen Smith)

The photographer who was with me told me he felt like smacking Simmons in the face. I quickly got him out of there. I was grateful for my colleague's chivalry but didn't want him damaged by an unreconstructed sexist pig.

I wrote the following about Simmons in 2000 when the band announced their "farewell" tour of Australia.

"Whenever the band has toured in recent years, Simmons has offended most female interviewers - and a few male ones as well - with constant references to how well-endowed Australian women are in various body parts, along with other plainly sexist comments. Despite all attempts to get this rock dinosaur back to the topic of what a great band KISS was, Simmons has seemed determined to be an outdated rock cliche."

A few years later, another female colleague had a similar experience when interviewing him about his second solo album.

In addition to copping the slimy "open arms and open legs" script, he said: "Australia is fantastic. The girls keep lifting their tops during the shows."

Or, regarding Asshole, the fitting title of his solo album.

"It's tongue in cheek - not like my tongue in your cheek,'' he "joked".

Simmons is now being sued by a Californian radio personality, known in legal papers as "Jane Doe", for sexual misconduct during a recent interview.

The KISS musician has denied any wrong doing and stated that: "I am conferring with my lawyers with the aim of vigorously countering these allegations."

The lawsuit alleges Simmons made "several aggressive, unwanted sexual advances despite Jane Doe's active and clear discouragement".

Those actions allegedly included taking the woman's hand and placing it on his knee, touching her throat and later her buttocks during a photo opportunity.

And answering questions with "sexual innuendos".

The suit comes just weeks after reports Fox News banned him for life because of "inappropriate and sexist antics" in their offices while promoting his latest book.

In an interview addressing the Fox ban, Simmons told BBC's Hardtalk the reports of his behaviour at Fox had been exaggerated and offered that he had not misbehaved.

"I did nothing. I always had people around me. Like when I come here, I've got handlers and everybody sees what I'm doing. You can't go into a public area and do anything," he said.

I call BS on that. Those people are enablers who perhaps fear for their jobs.

There were record label and promoter representatives in that Sydney hotel room with me who heard exactly what he said. One was appalled, another suggested that is just the way KISS rolls.

When I did report his behaviour in my weekly column, one woman called me to suggest I thank her for calling off the KISS Army. She claimed they had threatened to picket our offices because I had called him out.

I think she was trying to protect her job at the instruction of his minders.

Since I posted my experiences with him on Facebook earlier today, several men and women have shared their #metoo moments with Simmons.

The serial pest is due in Australia for a solo tour in February. Considering his relentless and vile disrespect of Australian women, I put him on my list of banned musicians about 15 years ago.

Now it's over to you, Peter Dutton.

Kathy McCabe is News Corp Australian national music writer.

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