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Non-Prog Book Reviews

Peter Criss

Makeup to Breakup: My Life In And Out Of Kiss written by Peter Criss

Review by Greg Olma

Let me start off by saying that I have been a Kiss fan since hearing Alive in 1975.  I was part of the Kiss Army, bought all of their albums (and still do), spent money on numerous Kiss items, and attended quite a few of their concerts.  Like all childhood fantasies, the truth tends to hurt when we are presented with “tell-all” books by our heroes.  Gene Simmons was the first one to explain to us that it was just as much about the money and power as it was about the music.  Ace Frehley was next with No Regrets and we got the feeling that Frehley was more into the excesses of rock and the songs were just something you did along the way.  I love both of their books but, just like Santa Claus, the truth shattered a childhood notion that I had that they were a bunch of rockers who sat around (in makeup no less) and cranked out catchy tunes.

Peter Criss is the third member of the original lineup to share with us his life story along with the juicy dirt on the other members.  The book is a true “life” story as it starts with his upbringing in New York all the way through to his breast cancer.  As a story it is an easy read and pretty heartfelt.  My biggest problem about the book is that throughout his life (including both times in Kiss), Criss tends to complain and make everyone else out as the bad guy.  While his life story is compelling, it is difficult to feel sorry for Criss when he talks about his wife not being faithful when he just spends a couple of pages prior to that explaining that he had a different girl each night.  Criss seemed both hurt and mad that his mate was not faithful yet he didn’t seem to think that same rule applied to him.  He also whines about Simmons and Stanley as bossing him around on the reunion tour.  He felt that he should be a full member and not an employee even though he quit 16 years prior to rejoining.  He was even paid $40,000 per show (Ace was making an additional $10,000 which was a big bone of contention for him) and while the other two were making the lion’s share of the profits, they also kept the Kiss ship afloat through all the lean years.  The only other issue I have with the book is that Criss gives out information that is not really an integral part of the story.  I really did not need to know that Frehley liked to pleasre himself all the time or that Simmons didn’t brush his teeth after performing orally on a girl who was having her “friend” visiting.  Items like that only pad the book for no good reason and make the writer look childish.

I may seem a bit harsh about the book but it is on a subject matter that I hold near and dear to my heart and I wanted it to be treated with respect.  What was I thinking?  It’s rock and roll so respect goes out the window.  I may have some gripes about this book but I still think it is a worthwhile purchase.  As mentioned earlier, it is an easy read and you get Peter Criss’ version of the truth.  In the end, if a book makes you feel happy, sad, mad, or any other emotion, then it has done its job and Makeup to Breakup: My Life In And Out Of Kiss did just that.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at

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