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Gene Simmons Talks 'Family Jewels' and Why Blood is Thicker Than Hummus

(JewishJournal.com) In the June 28 episode of A & E’s reality series, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” flamboyant KISS frontman Simmons – famed for his demonic makeup, fire-breathing, tongue-flicking, 10-inch platforms and female conquests – cries at his father’s grave in Israel.

It was the first time Simmons (born Chaim Witz in Haifa) had ever visited the grave; in fact, it was the first time the 61-year-old had returned to Israel in more than half a century, having left at 8 with his mother, a Hungarian survivor of Auschwitz. He stood at the grave and said “Kaddish” with half-siblings he did not even know he had until this “Family Jewels” trip; they were his father’s children from subsequent marriages.

Simmons’ longtime partner, Shannon Tweed, a former Playboy playmate, had arranged for the rocker to meet them: “She was very sneaky and planned the whole thing, with a lot of surprises,” he said. “I didn’t even know I had any siblings. We were at a restaurant when a good-looking guy approached me; I thought he was the waiter. Then they sprung it on me that he was my half-brother – and I met my half-sisters.”

For the KISS bass player-singer-songwriter (a.k.a. “The Demon”), it was a chance to confront some personal demons; particularly those surrounding the father he believed had abandoned him and his mother.

“It was too much, actually,” he said of the cemetery trip. “I didn’t even know that was going to happen. They don’t tell me anything on the show; what you see is pretty much what you get. They have cameras on all sides, so people think we do additional scenes, but we don’t. I thought we were going sightseeing on that day.

“I found out a lot of stuff: that my father was married at least six times, and apparently had a lot of kids,” he added.

Tweed, who this season has threatened to leave Simmons for his infidelities, noted the similarities between father and son. “Her point was: lots of women—it seems to be in the DNA,” he said. “Let’s just say I’ve been around thousands of women.”

Confronting issues about his father proved transformative, however: “The last time I saw him I was almost 7,” Simmons said. “So it was time [for me] to grow up, because men don’t want to grow up, you know.”

Here are excerpts from the rest of my conversation with Simmons, who was alternatively thoughtful and provocative as he discussed his ardent support for Israel; why President Obama is “foolish” for his take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; why Jews should change their names, and how “Baywatch” can save the world.

Read the complete atrticle and interview by clicking here

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