The bass playing businessman-in-makeup from KISS helped create a generation of weirdos that his political worldview has no tolerance for.
Gene Simmons is a patriot, goddammit, and America made him great. Or so you would be left to believe if you took the Ayn Rand of stadium rock’s word for it. No offense, Neil Peart, but you’re fucking Canadian.
Where other musicians have struggled to balance their commercial success with their aesthetics, Gene embraced the dichotomy by increasingly trading artistic merit for cash and groupies without internalizing a realistic perception of what an unsavory schmooze this made him. All while allegedly remaining completely free of drugs and alcohol, which is sort of a cautionary tale against mixing rock and roll with sobriety.
Given so much success unburdened by artistic or existential self-doubt, Gene has increasingly adopted the belief over the years that anybody could repeat his level of achievement if they weren’t so much lazier and stupider than him. He believes that his current values apply retroactively to his earlier success, although there is no evidence of Gene’s conservative narrative until after he had sold millions of records and sold out major venues worldwide.
However given the aesthetic vision which he contributed to KISS, and the decidedly rash decision to leave a steady teaching career to play bass guitar in make up and high heels, it could probably be inferred that the younger Gene who engineered this path to fame and fortune was not altogether the John Galt character he seems to think (and certainly claims) that he is. In fact his well known history of making such boisterous claims seems counter-intuitive to the play-it-straight Americana he endlessly blathers about.
Fortunately, as Chuck Klosterman has pointed out, you don’t have to like the people in KISS to like KISS. Which is the most absurd form of gaining eminence and prosperity possible, and also one which happened far more coincidentally than Gene would lead you to believe. And so it also seems to work the other way, Gene doesn’t have to like KISS fans to like being in KISS.
Which is even more fucked up when you consider he probably had a lot to do with making his fans the kind of people he doesn’t like.
The entire aesthetic of early KISS was to be weird. They encouraged individuality and freakiness by embodying it aesthetically, and as a way of life altogether greater a sum than just their music. KISS was an image. And that image said to be yourself and explore the fringes and to ignore what the people judging you thought.
All of which is antithetical to the realistic ways in which success is achieved in the mythological American dream. That path leads us to conform and follow the formulas and to cater to paying customers before personal principles. Genes yellow brick road to achievement, according to his rhetoric after the fact, lies in direct opposition to the message embedded in the image of KISS.
In business the only place where straying from norms is considered beneficial is through novel innovation. While I am a fan of both the music and aesthetic of KISS, neither were particularly innovative, let alone completely original. Those evolved from things like glam rock, science fiction, comic books and pseudo-Asiatic theatrics; which I might note are all also pretty non-conservative sources of inspiration.
Yet the people who dived wholeheartedly into those aesthetics continued to seek out the odd and shocking. They explored the outer edges and transformed themselves into something far removed from the All-American archetype, and in doing so alienated themselves from mainstream culture, and so ever further away from the land of milk and honey.
The political narrative of Gene Simmons is antithetical to KISS and his own success, and it heaps nothing but scorn upon the kind of people who made him who he is through their passion and loyalty. As an added insult to fanbase injury, reality television and other media where he spouts off his inane egotistical bullshit have increased his success further.
Which means that even this facet of Gene Simmons could be a facade he created for shock value and increased status, which would make him an even greater God (of thunder) or King (of the nighttime world) than his Army and/or detractors can even yet comprehend. That would be some of the greatest meta-level art of the 20th and 21st centuries, even though I doubt it is true. More likely he is a clever but lucky asshole, and we cannot help but always love the first person who spat blood and breathed fire for us.