Notoriously outspoken and famously long-tongued, you might think there is little you haven’t already heard from KISS musician Gene Simmons. But after nearly 50 years in rock ‘n’ roll and seven seasons on reality television, Simmons still has plenty of surprises for his fans.
At 65 years old, Simmons still dons his trademark makeup and seven-inch high heels, spits fire, and flies across the stage—touring the world with KISS, one of the most successful music franchises in the world, with more than 100 million albums sold to date. But behind his onstage persona, aptly named “The Demon,” lies a man with many diverse interests, including a passion for philanthropy.
Born in Israel, and raised in a bullet-hole-speckled, one-bedroom home by his mother, a Holocaust survivor, Simmons immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. He spoke no English and had never seen a television, refrigerator or paved streets before.
“We came from nothing. My mother was making $35 a week. Rent was $37.50 a month, but I didn’t know anything,” said Simmons. “I had never seen a television set, or Kleenex, or toilet paper. We just didn’t have those things.”