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BOOK REVIEW – Makeup To Breakup by Peter Criss with Larry Sloman

| 5 December 2012 | Reply

Published by Harper Collins
Released: November 2012
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

KISS’s legendary “Catman” promises “to deliver an unvarnished and eye-opening personal tale of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” with this bio, in collaboration with Larry “Ratso” Sloman, a veteran of similar books with Red Hot Chilli Pepper frontman Anthony Keidis and magician David Blaine.

It’s graphic, that’s for sure, detailing his childhood as Peter Criscuola, through his rebellious teen years running with gangs and brawling, to joining KISS and their meteoric rise to being the biggest band in the world.

Along the way drugs, booze, egos and assholes enter the picture and all manner of madness is going down nightly.  Criss is happy to share all this matter-of-factly, treating the book like one of his AA meetings or group therapy, perhaps, which is fine, though there’s not a lot of remorse shown for his more selfish excesses – hitting women, for example, is the fault of his drug use.  Though he declares that he is sorry, there’s always a twinge of doubt in there when he returns immediately to sharing the more sordid details of his decadence.

Most readers are going to be picking the book up to read about his former band, of course, and let me tell you right now, there is a LOT of bitterness still there.

Criss has axes to grind, and grind he does – Gene Simmons is a “lying fuck”, Paul Stanley doesn’t fare much better, being basically outed by Criss as gay (though without any definitive evidence, it must be noted, unless shopping for drapes and a penchant for interior decoration counts), the band’s managers and record label bosses were almost without exception coke fiends and assholes, one of whom, Doc McGee, “can go eat a bag of dicks”.

Even his blood brother, guitarist Ace Frehley, for whom Criss repeatedly professes undying love, is a greedy asshole who betrayed him (not to mention implying some bedroom shenanigans happened involving Criss’s manhood and Frehley’s mouth!). His bitterness over Frehley’s “betrayal” seems to stem from the one getting paid more money than the other per show on the band’s reunion tour… it doesn’t seem enough to warrant the vitriol on offer.

He feels unjustly tainted by the ‘drug addict’ brush following the events of the Seventies, even when he was still using in the Nineties.  Again, there is a child-like refusal to admit where he’s at fault, and that there are repurcussions to his actions.

More recently Criss married his soulmate, and successfully beat breast cancer, though even here he struggles to find forgiveness – his KISS bandmates “never even sent a get well card”.  Even his dentist donated money to a charity he was supporting, whilst his former band didn’t, he spits angrily.  When he found the news about the cancer he also admits to treating his wife terribly and they almost broke up, so it seems he may not have learnt enough lessons from his former mistakes…

There’s no denying that if even only half of this actually happened as described, that Simmons and Stanley could rightly be considered selfish, greedy and manipulative, though there are precious few people (fans included) who are going to be surprised at this news (Simmons famously and braggingly named his solo album Asshole, after all).  Never-the-less, this reviewer found sympathy for Criss after putting the book down.  He may not have learnt enough from all those mistakes, but he seems to be genuinely trying, and his treatment by his ex-band members certainly constitutes emotionally abuse.

Criss was nicknamed “the complainer” whilst in KISS, and if you can sidestep his whinging throughout Makeup To Breakup, then you should find it an enjoyable and eye-opening read.  For all it’s self-involvement and narcissism, he does seem to be brutally honest and forthright, and although Criss desperately wants to be liked, whether we do or not is irrelevant to enjoying reading about his experiences with his bandmates and on the road with KISS.

Category: Book Reviews

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